A noted "green sustainability" author kicked off the Design & Manufacturing
Midwest Show on Tuesday by telling engineers and executives that they
should view environmental regulations as business opportunities instead of as
Pamela J. Gordon, who authored
"Lean And Green: Profit For Your
Workplace And The Environment," acknowledged that environmental compliance,
customer's "green" demands," the tough economy and cost cutting form a
"quadruple headache" for engineers. Still, she said, manufacturers need to
understand that there's more to it than pain.
"When you put these four headaches together,
you actually have a business opportunity," said Gordon, who also serves as
president of Technology Forecasters
Inc. Gordon made her comments as part of green manufacturing conference at
the show, which is being held in Rosemont,
IL, this week.
By looking for environmental opportunities,
Gordon said, manufacturers can find between 1 - 5 percent savings on cost of
goods sold. Moreover, investments in green energy, such as solar panels, can
yield a return on investment in five to 10 years, she added.
Gordon also suggested that
engineers can boost the reliability of their products by employing green
sensibilities. "You need to use a good âdesign-for-environment' checklist for
all your designs, just as you use a design-for-test or
design-for-manufacturability' checklist," Gordon said. "About 80 percent of the
items on that design-for-environment checklist will increase your product's
Engineers and executives in the
audience pushed Gordon on the subject of return-on-investment for such programs
and Gordon responded with stories of companies that realized benefits by
cutting water and electricity usage. In particular, she said, Intel Corp. used
a notable green program called "known good die" in some of its facilities,
resulting in substantial reduction in electricity usage.
Gordon also cited "ten steps to
best practices," which included:
following the law; finding executive-level sponsors; forming
multi-functional green teams; involving all employees; selecting champions;
obtaining CEO approval; measuring carbon footprint; providing updates;
publicizing green plans; and continually renewing the âroadmap.'