Posted By Paul Tate, July 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM, in Category: Sustainability
Perhaps one of the most uncharted implications of the journey to Manufacturing 4.0 is how new digital technologies, pervasive sensor networks, lean production models, smart products, and advanced new materials can help the global manufacturing industry achieve higher levels of sustainability in their operations.
This is not just about being green for green’s sake. Or simply the importance of environmental responsibility and its brand value among customers. It’s also about making manufacturing processes, material handling, and supply chains as efficient and as cost-effective as possible.
Green manufacturing saves money. And sometimes, it saves a whole lot of money!
The good news is that an increasing number of manufacturing companies are already pursuing voluntarily certified greener strategies in the way they build and operate new, more sustainable manufacturing facilities.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), for example, oversees a voluntary green building certification system called LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED rates a spectrum of activities, from waste to energy use, and provides third-party verification of the features, design, construction, maintenance, operation and effectiveness of industrial, warehousing and distribution facilities.
Across all sectors, the USBGC estimates that 1.85 million square feet of space in more than 160 countries certifies with LEED everyday.
LEED is certainly an approach that’s becoming increasingly adopted by manufacturing and industrial companies worldwide. The USGBC’s recent report, LEED in Motion: Industrial Facilities, reckons there are now more than 1,755 LEED-certified industrial facilities globally, comprising more than 496 million total square feet. Over a thousand of those facilities are in the U.S. There are a further 2,710 projects registered for the scheme, totaling an additional 737 million square feet worldwide.
The LEED User Group for Industrial Facilities also includes some powerful industrial concerns –– such as Intel, P&G, Toyota, Johnson Controls, Kohler, United Technologies, BASF, Diagio, and Colgate/Palmolive.
“The LEED influence in the manufacturing environment is growing and is viewed very positively in the supply chain and by customers,” commented John Gagel, Global Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability at printer manufacturer Lexmark International, and a member of the Manufacturing Leadership Board of Governors. The Lexmark Cartridge Collection Program (LCCP) manufacturing facility in Juarez, Mexico is a LEED Gold-level certified facility.
“Operationally, the efficiencies gained by following LEED building principles are real and measurable,” adds Gagel.
Take Fiat Chrysler’s Trenton South Engine plant in Michigan. The sustainable design of the world’s first engine plant to achieve a Gold LEED rating has helped slash annual CO2 emissions by 12,000 metric tons, reduced energy consumption by 39%, and saved £1.25 million a year.
Ford, meanwhile, plans to transform its famous Dearborn campus into a high-tech headquarters and expects all renovated facilities to achieve at least a Silver LEED standard. And Toyota is aiming for Platinum LEED status with its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, which will include a 7.7 megawatt solar array for 100% renewable energy.
But you don’t have to be big to be more sustainable and save money for the business. Method’s soap factory in Chicago, for example, has already hit LEED Platinum with the help of its own wind turbine, “solar tracking trees” that follow the sun, and what is claimed to be the world's largest rooftop farm, a 75,000-square-foot commercial greenhouse set to produce 500 tons of food a year.
The whole LEED movement could be good for U.S. economic prospects too. A recent report by Booz, Allen Hamilton suggested that by the end of 2018, green buildings could generate 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $190 billion in labor earnings.
There’s certainly plenty of room for improvement and savings for the manufacturing industry here. U.S. manufacturers alone account for 30 percent of the country’s total energy consumption and an estimated 15,900 million gallons of water a day.
Has your company taken the LEED approach to building more sustainable facilities? What kind of improvements and savings have you achieved?
Written by Paul Tate
Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive