A story of sustainable manufacturing

I n 2007, a small group of no more than 12 people met in the basement of the White County courthouse, just north of Purdue. We came to explore what steps they could do to move their region of 14 counties toward a sustainable economy in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We started out with the first question of Strategic Doing: “What could we do?”

Strategic Doing is an agile strategy discipline that we have been perfecting at Purdue to stimulate open innovation in loosely joined networks. By “open innovation”, we mean innovating in partnership with others outside your organization by sharing the risks and rewards of both the  process and the outcomes.

Here’s how we framed the question: “What could we do to distinguish our region nationally in sustainability and clean energy?”  My colleague at Purdue, Christy Bozic, was the first to speak. A manufacturing engineer, Christy pointed out that Purdue had a lot of assets in teaching manufacturers new skills for sustainability. She wondered, “Could we establish a new green collar certification for manufacturing?”  She added, “I don’t think anything like that exists.

The representative from Ivy Tech, the state’s community college system, pointed to the expertise within her system to develop and deliver curriculum. The economic developers around the table immediately saw the value of promoting their region as a center for sustainable manufacturing. They noted that Subaru, located in West Lafayette, was a national leader in “zero landfill” manufacturing. As our conversation evolved, the opportunity became more clear in everyone’s mind.

From this conversation, which took no more than 90 minutes, the group launched the first national certification in green manufacturing, the Green Manufacturing Specialist Certification. The training educates both hourly and salaried workers in the principles of clean manufacturing, energy conservation and waste reduction. Through Purdue’s collaboration with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the certificate is now offered nationally.

  • The Green Generalist (Green 101) serves as the foundation course for the green initiative. You’ll learn about topics like sustainability, solid waste management, energy management and environmental business management. We’ll also teach you how to develop and implementation action plan for your green initiative.
  • Level two of Purdue’s green manufacturing program is a Green Specialist Certificate Series with six workshops titled “Dumpster Dive”, “Energy Management”, “Green Chemistry”, “H2O Conserve”, “Pollution Solutions” and “Sustainability into Practice”.
  • The level three Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Green Manufacturing Specialist Certificate serves as verifiable proof of your green knowledge by successfully completing an exam. The SME GMSC exam (which includes over 100 questions) and the Purdue TAP GreenED Specialist Series are built upon the same body of knowledge.
  • Purdue also offers a two-day interactive Waste Stream Mapping program, in which participants learn the fundamentals of solid waste streams and their associated sources including energy, solid waste, water and hazardous wastes. Using a Waste Stream Mapping assessment and planning tool, participants learn how to analyze alternative approaches, develop future-state scenarios with significant reductions in waste stream output and create an implementation plan for future state.

You can learn more here: http://www.greenmanufacturing.purdue.edu/


Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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