Gearing Up to Go Green

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Quick. Name an organization that has planted enough trees (over 400,000) to offset the carbon emissions from its core operations for the past 6 years – and the next 40.

NASCAR might not have been the first name that occurred to you, but that is exactly what they have done through their NASCAR Green program. “Laudable” you might say, but what qualifies this for inclusion in the Manufacturing Innovation Blog? Stay with me and all shall be revealed…

Our sister program here at NIST, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, develops and disseminates the Baldrige Criteria – the de facto national standard for leadership and high performance. One of the questions from the Leadership category of the Criteria asks, “How do you actively support and strengthen your key communities?” NASCAR’s efforts in this area embody the spirit of the Criteria – going beyond being an organization that is simply “doing good” to seeking to create shared value in the communities in which they operate – one of those communities being small and medium sized manufacturers in the states where the NASCAR series racing events are held.

Through a partnership with the E3: Energy – Economy – Environment Program, a federal technical assistance framework supported by six federal agencies including NIST MEP, NASCAR has joined the team in creating a series of E3 Challenges that encourage manufacturers to implement efforts to reduce environmental impacts, improve efficiency, and generate measurable cost savings. Participants document both their efforts and the impacts achieved. Applications are then reviewed by a panel of experts with the winner receiving VIP-level access to an upcoming NASCAR event.

The most recent E3 Challenge took place in Virginia where Intertape Polymer Group of Danville was recognized for demonstrating outstanding commitment to world-class business practices that align with sustainability and making the company more profitable. GENEDGE, the Virginia MEP affiliate, collaborated with partners from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Richmond International Raceway (RIR) to host the competition. At a special ceremony held at the Raceway, Intertape’s accomplishments on their E3 journey were shared with state and local officials along with colleagues from the manufacturing sector. These included: improvements in first pass quality of over 20%, reduction of plant energy intensity of almost 10%, elimination of almost half of their VOC emissions, and cost savings in excess of $3,000,000.

So on September 10th, as you are watching the Federated Auto Parts 400, know that not only will NASCAR and RIR be recycling part of the 25 million cans and bottles they collect each year and composting over 5 tons of food waste, but they will also be providing well-deserved recognition to some of your manufacturing colleagues for their commitment to sustainable practices that also make good economic sense.

About Author

Jeff Lucas

Jeff Lucas is a Regional Manager working with the MEP Centers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Before joining MEP, he previously worked with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, also at NIST. He has also used his background in organizational development and program evaluation in the fields of career and technical education and hotel management.

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