Thought Community Growth

First of all, the Electronics Supply and Manufacturing website just summarized the first chapter of the book Green Electronics Design and Manufacturing by Sammy G. Shina. My Cradle to Cradle sumnmaries pale in comparison to this in depth excerpt. It’s more like a brief text book.

It would be a great read for green manufacturing managers who aren’t sure if they need to read the whole book. However, they do provide a link to buy the book (Perhaps I should provide one to Cradle to Cradle).

Second, The Greening of Lean Manufacturing, a press release for McClarin Plastics published by informs readers that McClarin has increased business, kept to their lean principles, become greener, and increased profits.

“We are anxious to share what we’ve learned about eco-responsibility through using Lean principles. Our hope is to get everyone in a supply chain operating on the same page so they too can realize the benefits…We’ve lowered overhead and increased cash flow which we’ve re-invested back into the company.”

 said Roger Kipp, vice president of marketing and engineering for McClarin Plastics in Hanover, PA

Suniva Solar announced the establishment of a factory in the Atlanta area that could bring in 100 new jobs. Made possible by 50 million dollars of second round investing and the expectation of “$10 million in revenues this year and will be profitable next year with $100 million in sales.”

According to, Georgia beat out several states, who were offering big incentives. I guess the fact that Suniva was founded at Georgia Tech’s Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics gave the state a bit of a home advantage. expanded on the Lieberman Warner bill and gave some interesting points about why it might actually just be congress creating a tax hike in order to create projects in their home states. Initially, I hopped on the ‘Bush is missing the environmental boat again’ bandwagon but it will

“represent the largest tax increase in U.S. History.”

The country is pretty much on hold until a new President is inaugurated so this debate might be just a discussion to get a better sense for what our best options are.







Two green manufacturing stories caught my eye this morning.

The first is the plan for a ‘Center for Green Technology at University of Toledo’ that was published yesterday.

“The proposed Great Lakes Center for Green Technology Manufacturing would help develop and commercialize renewable energy manufacturing processes, materials, and infrastructure,”

Senator Brown (D Ohio) said in a statement.


A provision in the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill will fund the construction of the ‘Center’.However, President Bush has assured that he will veto the Bill if it gets to his desk.

There is strong support throughout Ohio for building the Center in hopes that Toledo can further their reputation since they are “already recognized as the solar manufacturing center of the U.S., and are hard at work developing wind, water, ethanol and bio-diesel clusters,” according to Toledo Mayor, Finkbeiner.

Now the second story, this one published today, announced that Ford motor company has chosen an Ontario company to lead a project that will help them avoid the harmful emissions created by burning off paint during the automobile manufacturing process.

The project:

‘was stimulated by $100 million in funding for the Oakville complex through the Ontario government’s Automotive Investment Strategy. “That’s real forward-looking thinking,” Kit Edgworth, the head of the Fumes to Fuel Project, says. “If it weren’t for the government money, Ford would have probably waited five years to embark on this project. And then it might have been located elsewhere.” ‘

The project, if it works, will turn the burned off chemicals from the painting process into fuel for the factory.

Personally, I can understand how the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill can be considered a “costly bureaucracy and drive up the cost of coal-based energy without first making alternatives available,” as described by Sen. George Voinovich (R Ohio) but these stories came out one after another.

Ford, one of the largest manufacturers in America, is using a fast moving Canadian funded research team to reuse fumes as fuel, while at the same time a bill that could build a Center for Green Manufacturing in Ohio is headed for a veto.

So…either the bill neds to be re-written with more attractive numbers or more support for the bill is needed to convince Bush to approve it.


Just watched a Bill McDonough video on youtube that highlights some important aspects of Cradle to Cradle, which can be related here. As he said, “He is in the business of making things.” So are we.

The video gives a basic idea of what the book was about; one youtube commenter said “no bother buying and reading the book, he summed it all up here.” There’s no substitute for reading the actual book but I kind of agree that he sums up the ideaas behind Cradle to Cradle and gets you to buy into his concepts in the 20 minute video.

He states that

Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safem healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power- economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed.

Such a great image that seems very possible, but comes with manufacturers consiously choosing a lifecyle for prducts that is sustainable.

Another point that he makes that was my facvotire part until I watched the city creation at the end was his description of the elegance of a tree,

Imagine this design assignment: Design something that makes oxegyn, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy as fuel, makes complex sugars and food, creates micro climates, changes colors with the seasons and self replicates.

Now, why don’t we knock that down and write on it.”


He also points out that “Competition means strive together. Olympic athletes compete together in order to get fit together. Survival of the fittest can build a fit community.”

He created a city that you have to see to believe.

It’s worth it to watch from 17:44 on to watch the transformation of a field to a city. Completely sustainable and follows his ideas of cradle to cradle.





I finally watched The Story of Stuff, the 20 minute web movie about, well, The Story of Stuff. Maybe I’m the last person but I’m glad I finally took the time to watch it.

So informative and didn’t seem too lean to far to the green side of business. It really just laid out the reality that we only have one planet and we are using and wasting resources at an alarming rate. If not for our behavior just for the sheer number of people on the planet.

Obviously this affects manufacturing and it brings me back to the “Cradle to Cradle” concept, which is that we can’t have a linear production system. Part of green manufacturing is that the products that are produced must have a definite destination once they are done being used.

Since, as pointed out in The Story Of Stuff, we are a consumer society that thrives on using things for a while and then throwing them away, the manufacturing of the stuff must take this into consideration as well.

Once whatever you make heads to a consumer, where is its final resting place. In the Green Collar Economy, this question must be answered before it is even made. Will it be recycled? Will it be incinerated? Will it last for a long time? Was it made to last for a short time so that people buy more?

The true green manufacturers take this into consideration and ethics and corporate responibilty are critical points that sometimes conflict with the almighty dollar.

That’s why we’re working toward profitable sustainability

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart was written in 2002. Since I am a relative newcomer to the world of green manufacturing, I haven’t read the book yet, but in my research I have seen plenty of references to the book and its concepts. So many referances in fact that I get the sense that it is a must read. How can I comment on this topic without understanding the books principles better?

According to Cradle to Cradle:

“describes the hopeful, nature-inspired design principles that are making industry both prosperous and sustainable, the book itself is a physical symbol of the changes to come. It is printed on a synthetic ‘paper,’ made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, designed to look and feel like top quality paper while also being waterproof and rugged.”

Words about sustainable methods made by sustainable methods. While I support a book that strives to be eco friendly through and through, I have chosen to obtain it in an even greener fashion. I’ll borrow it for free from the public library near my house, and I’ll start reading it as soon as it is available. Then I’ll be able to pass on important principles for all my green manufacturing readers.



Happy Earth Day. I must say that the media blitz on the Green America lately cannot be avoided. The weather is nicer in most of the country and people are outside enjoying the fresh air. This season, this year, after this Earth Day will be one of the greatest tests of how serious Americans really are about environmental issues. A huge spike in eco awareness among our population could lead to a huge spike in alternative ways to deal with waste, energy, and personal decisions.


The manufacturing sector should be ready for the type of overhaul that will surely come in the next few years. The average American home will look different and the most glaring difference would be what today is called eco-friendly practices. The Green Collar Economy is a place where today’s eco friendly practices are commonplace. Automatic givens in every community.


Starwood hotels is working on an experimental earth friendly hotel where they try out the following green features:


Energy star appliances

Energy efficient light bulbs

water saving faucets and fixtures


Soap dispenser in the shower

Low toxicity paint

Wood bed frames from certified forests

Couch cusions made from soy

Recycle bins

Low toxicity paint

Recycled carpet


The first three save Starwood money and possibly even the consumer and some might argue that the soap dispenser saves money too. The rest are just sustainable ways to give us the things we need, including comfort and luxury. It also shows how its important not to waste anything. Manufacturers must take into consideration that almost everything can be recycled and lean practices have been leading the way to zero waste for years.


The final point I want to leave you with is that the above green features should and will be standard features in the average American home (and extended stay hotels) soon. Just make sure you reuse the out of date stuff in the right way.

          Today, I take a look at my hometown. I believe I can make a difference most in my own community. Impacting the lives of the people I associate with seems more within my grasp. That’s why when the city of Boston sponsors green economic development, I am personally excited. It means that my community is doing something for the environment and is spending their money on renewable alternatives.

          My favorite so far is the urban compost center that will be the first of its kind. It will capture heat from a compost heap made of local restaurant scraps and yard waste and turn it into energy. The co2 that burns off will contribute to a greenhouse full of plants located above the compost pile. They have made plans to install wind turbines on the roof of city hall and there are other initiatives as well.  Also Massachusetts based Evergreen Solar has announced it will double its size and add 350 jobs.

In the article they also cite that

“Besides Evergreen, the state recently attracted a wind blade research facility that will be built near the Tobin Bridge. In addition, Greatpoint Energy, a Cambridge company that specializes in coal and natural gas conversion technology, is building a pilot facility in Somerset, MA.”

          It seems like communities across the country are looking to be the leaders in renewable energy and green business practices. I have read the phrase “If we take advantage of the green movement, we can put (insert region) at the forefront of growth in this industry” or something like that by writers from Buffalo, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, and New Mexico. California and Oregon seem like they are already at the forefront. Hot weather desert states have the sun while the plains are looking towards corn and wind. Detroit has said they want to be at the forefront and think they have what it takes.

          I don’t want to get too historical but besides the analogies to the Industrial Revolution, I’ve also heard the “space race mentality” term being thrown around a bit too. All of these states, along with private corporations, are competing to be leaders and create a competitive advantage. This type of competition also speeds up the progression to a Green Collar Economy.

I spend a lot of time here promoting the use of green practices right now. My opinion has usually been,

“Let start taking advantage of innovative technologies and reduce non renewable energy usage today.”

The environmental reasons and capitalist reasons are plenty. But today I read a statement by Wake Forest University that made me stop and think.

Adam Mayer, the founder of the Wake Forest American Energy Security chapter said,

“…absolutely solar, wind, geothermal, etc., but only as soon as they are economically feasible. Trying to be completely renewable now will put too much strain on the US economy and on US taxpayers. The trucker strike is a prime example of the fact that we need cheap fuel now.”

So I opened my mind and dropped these words in. It makes so much sense. There needs to be a bridge to the green economy. We can’t get by on fumes while we try to set up new infrastructure; we need to work with what we got.

The purpose of is simply to promote the idea that “We need to do the things that will save us money. By converting to renewable energy we are building a new revenue stream and simultaneously preserving the environment.”

If it is not economically feasible to work green manufacturing into your process, be sure to be aware of the things that you can do. Grasp green and apply it where possible.

          On March 13, I wrote about green procurement and commented on Paradigm Group and Harry Brix. Well apparently Mr. Brix has been getting more green manufacturing media play and was cited in a Manufacturing Business Technology article three days ago. He’s quoted as saying that green manufacturing might just be a fad like the 70s and then 90s. However, Nabil Nasr, Ph.D.,The director of the Center for Manufacturing Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology disagrees.

Nasr cites the numbers from a survey which found:

“only 9 percent of respondents prioritized reduction of their carbon footprint in 2007. When asked why, 72 percent of the respondents said they had other priorities to address first, 15 percent said the process is too costly, and 8 percent said they didn’t know how to do it.”

 So that’s what I am going to set out to do. It’s actually what I’ve been doing for the past couple months. Prove that the cost of the process is becoming increasingly easier to implement and can reap even bigger profits; Teach how to find the resources and learn how to make the right moves; And while other priorities may take precedent, the green wave could carry you for years while you address those higher priorities. 

“Green manufacturing cuts across every aspect of manufacturing, including information decisions, process technologies, energy consumption, material selection, and material flow. A lot of the decisions manufacturers make are related to cost, function, and quality. Now they are adding another dimension, which is sustainability.”

 This is just a great quote and sums up green manufacturing very well. Sustainability is where we are headed and its within our reach. Let’s keep driving towards profitable sustinability.

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