The topic of sustainability often centers on the triple bottom line of economic considerations, social responsibility and the environment. In these challenging times, more and more manufacturers are adopting sustainability into their overall business strategies. They understand how sustainable business practices reduce waste, improve the efficiency of their operations and position their firms to be more competitive in the global marketplace.
Small to medium sized manufacturers, however, often lack information to integrate practical, sustainable approaches in their operations. In 2009, the federal government created a framework called E3: Economy, Energy and the Environment to help bridge that gap.
E3 brings together federal agencies, states and local communities for a broad discussion on how to connect respective programs to deliver responsive, coordinated solutions in a manufacturing environment. The E3 Framework facilitates collaboration among groups with common interests and a common agenda. This framework focuses on strengthening small to medium sized American manufacturers, which represent the largest proportion of the manufacturing sector. State and local communities use the E3 framework to help boost local economies to achieve their sustainability goals.
Renews American Manufacturing. Central to the E3 framework is a focus on continual improvement to manufacturing operations with regard to productivity, energy, and environmental performance. E3 coordinates technical assessments that are conducted by an experienced team of experts from the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, the Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Centers and State Environmental experts with support from local Workforce Investment Boards and Small Business Development Centers and others. They conduct customized, hands-on assessments of production processes on the factory floor with manufacturing personnel who are are then trained to use MEP, DOE and EPA tools on lean manufacturing and energy management. Manufacturing staff acquire knowledge and skills to continuously improve their manufacturing operations. When completed, manufacturers are provided a list of recommendations and ROIs that will streamline their industrial processes, increase profitability, and improve overall environmental performance.
Promotes Smarter Government. In 2010, five federal departments and agencies demonstrated their support of sustainable manufacturing by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (PDF, 6 pp, 1.74 MB) to officially establish the E3 framework. In 2012, the framework expanded when a sixth federal agency signed the MOU. Through coordinated collaboration, each federal organization optimizes the value of its human and fiscal resources, leveraging and building upon existing activities to support E3 programs. Federal organizations use regional and local constituencies to encourage collaboration among programs at the local level. As a result, this team-oriented approach resonates well with local communities by targeting their needs and challenges.
Delivers Service in a Refreshing New Way. Interest is growing across the country to take part in the E3 framework. When the State of Alabama formally adopted E3 as a framework for change, former Governor Bob Riley praised E3's effectiveness in bringing together federal and state government organizations to work together as one team. At the most basic level, E3 brings people together around a common set of objectives to maximize local sustainability efforts. By working together, an E3 state or community can leverage the know-how of industry leaders to produce better energy and natural resource conservation, better fiscal health, increased competitiveness in the global market, and workers trained to meet the needs of our greener economy.