Frequently Asked Questions

Background Questions

How are E3 and E3's Green Suppliers Network related? gsn icon

E3 originally emerged from the Green Suppliers Network, a technical assistance framework designed to help manufacturers and manufacturing supply chains adapt and thrive in today's green economy. While E3 has adopted a broader, community-based focus in which communities engage manufacturers and local supply chains, E3's Green Suppliers Network still exists to provide assistance to manufacturers located outside E3 communities and manufacturers wishing to target geographically diverse supply chains.

What role do participating federal agencies play in E3?

Part of the E3 framework, six federal agencies agreed to work together to assist E3 assessment teams. With input and assistance from participating federal agencies, local E3 teams are better equipped to offer the latest guidance in sustainable manufacturing and community development.

General Questions

How is E3 different from other sustainability efforts?

E3 works as a collaborative venture among communities, industry, and several federal agencies who share a common focus on sustainability, job growth, and economic development. Supported by a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) (5 pp, 1.6MB) among six federal agencies, E3's collaborative approach has proven successful in providing a framework for local communities and manufacturers to access the expertise of each federal agency and its local affiliates to avoid redundancies, increase efficiency, and grow economies.

Who is part of an E3 team?

Many types of organizations can participate in the E3 process. Organizations that may be represented on an E3 team include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Local and municipal governments
  • Local or regional utilities
  • State government agencies
  • State universities
  • Local manufacturing extension partnerships (MEPs)
  • Local industrial assessment centers (IACs)
  • Local small business development centers (SBDCs)
  • Local Workforce Investment Boards

If you do not see your type of organization listed here, contact us to find out if you are eligible to start an E3 project in your area.

How can a community start E3 locally?

To start an E3 project, an interested party or organization should research the E3 process and declare its intent to conduct an E3 project in its local community. This person or organization typically takes on the role of the local project lead and works to assemble a local E3 team, secure funding and resources for the project, and draft a project charter. A community's unique charter will outline the project goals and expectations and help define each team member's responsibilities. E3 can help your community decide on a project focus and develop your project charter. Visit the E3 Community How-to Guide for more information.

A manufacturer seeking to become involved in E3 will either need to work with their local government and other community stakeholders to begin the E3 process or work with the Green Suppliers Network if they are not located in an E3 community.

How are E3 projects funded?

E3 is not a federal grant program. E3 projects are typically funded by leveraging existing resources. E3 teams have secured funds from project participants who have a practical interest in improving the local manufacturing sector, or from federal funds already allocated and distributed to the communities.

How do manufacturers' supply chains fit into the E3 framework? gsn icon

It depends. If a manufacturer and its supply chain are local, it may want to become involved with its community's E3 project—if one exists—to help broaden its impact. Visit the E3 map to check if your community has started an E3 project.

If its supply chain stretches beyond the community, a manufacturer can turn to the Green Suppliers Network. Now a component of the E3 framework, E3's Green Suppliers Network helps manufacturers and supply chains nationwide enhance competitiveness, reduce cost, and improve performance. Register online and visit the Supply Chain How-to Guide for more information.

A manufacturer located outside an E3 community that wishes to target a specific production process, rather than a supply chain, can also engage the Green Suppliers Network and access E3 resources to perform an assessment. Register online and visit the Manufacturer How-to Guide for more information.

Why should communities, manufacturers, and supply chains be interested in E3 or Green Suppliers Network? gsn icon

E3 helps communities and manufacturers with local supply chains partner with federal agencies in pursuit of sustainable growth strategies focused on reducing costs and fostering job growth. E3 projects have demonstrated their value by helping form lasting relationships among local governments, utilities, and manufacturers and have proven to be profitable investments by the participating manufacturing facilities.

E3's Green Suppliers Network, now integrated into E3, combines resources from federal agencies to deliver a suite of services to manufacturers that will help them systematically identify and eliminate wastes from all aspects of manufacturing operations. Participating in the Green Suppliers Network opens up significant business improvement opportunities and enhances environmental performance.

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Assessment Questions gsn icon

What is an assessment?

Assessments are tailored specifically to each facility, so they vary in scope and can range from a focused investigation of a specific process or product line to a facility-wide review. Once the priority product line or processes are identified for review, the local assessment team—made up of appropriate experts—comes into the facility and conducts an onsite technical assessment. In every project, assessment teams strive to identify solutions that can be expanded to other parts of a manufacturer's operations or even other facilities.

What is reviewed in an assessment?

Typical E3 assessments incorporate a review of water, materials, and energy use, a greenhouse gas emissions evaluation, and some consideration of a facility's waste stream. Green Suppliers Network assessments, however, may not include the same components as assessments for community-wide projects.

Who conducts the assessments?

The local assessment team—made up of appropriate experts based on the priorities of the project and scope of the assessment. EPA is not directly involved in any onsite technical assistance.

How much does an assessment cost?

The cost of a typical facility assessment varies depending on factors such as the depth, scope, and focus of your assessment and the expertise of your local assessment team.

How long will an assessment take?

Manufacturers should expect the energy assessment to take one full day and a full facility review to take two or three days. These timeframes are typical of the assessment process, but might be adjusted, depending on the size of the facility and the scope of the work.

What personnel need to be present for the assessment?

It is very important to have key personnel available for the day of the assessment. Staff who deal with the operations of the equipment are essential as well as the head of the facility, who would be responsible for making budgeting decisions for the facility. This could be the CEO or the manager of the facility.

What data and records will need to be available?

The assessment team will work with you to determine which data sources are required for the assessment. For a list of possible sources the assessment team may ask you to provide, please visit the Manufacturer How-to Guide.

Are assessments related to regulatory enforcement/compliance?

No. E3 and E3's Green Suppliers Network projects are voluntary collaborations and do not involve or require a regulatory inspection or an audit program. Rather, the assessments help identify potential improvements that lead to cost savings and reductions in environmental impact at manufacturing facilities throughout a community. No enforcement personnel are involved in the assessments and each team member is obligated to protect your confidentiality.

Where can manufacturers find more information about assessments?

Visit the Manufacturer How-to Guide for more information.

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Post-Assessment Recommendation Questions gsn icon

Who decides which recommendations to implement?

Manufacturers do. The assessment team will provide a report to management outlining a series of improvements that can be made, but it is up to the individual manufacturer to determine what improvements it implements. The team is also available to help with implementation or identification of other state programs to assist companies.

Are data confidential?

Yes. Facility-specific results will not be shared with any organization outside the assessment team unless the facility agrees to do so (e.g., a case study). To provide public data, facility data are separated from company names and aggregated with others across the country.

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