Learn how to be sustainable

In November, 2008, Plant Services magazine carried my article about sustainability. The idea behind the article was to highlight the results of my research that identified Web sites with a rational relationship between the manufacturing world we know and love and the sustainability concepts embodied in the initiative called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

One of the sites I uncovered has a checklist of sustainability measures that can be applied to an existing building to garner points necessary to have the building LEED-certified, thus demonstrating to the surrounding community a third-party endorsement of one’s “greenness.”

I perused the checklist, but I didn’t spend much time contemplating its details. At that superficial level, they struck me as being something that any plant manager could accomplish, given enough time and money.

Recently, however, I read an online interview featuring David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. In it, he mentions that it’s possible to engage in a bit of gamesmanship with the LEED program. The reason is a typical case of cost-benefit analysis. Some point-earning moves are a lot cheaper than others.

The point of the interview is to explain that Pomona is taking the high road and going beyond the LEED guidelines to make a real-world difference in the school’s greenness.

Have any of you tried to apply the LEED guidelines to the industrial world? I’d sure like to know what you tried, successfully or unsuccessfully. As Bill Haney, former director of C-E Raymond’s pilot laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, put it, “In all the years I’ve run this lab, we’ve never had a failure. We did, however, discover raw materials that we couldn’t process successfully.”