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By Paul Thomas, Senior Editor
In the Lab
Another relatively new initiative is the Labs21 project (www.labs21century.gov/), an EPA/Department of Energy joint project aimed at making all laboratories more environmentally sound. The program’s LEEP, or Laborotory Energy Efficiency Profiler, tool, helps labs to look at areas that may be easy targets for immediate improvements—ventilation, heating and cooling, and so on. Used with the Labs21 Energy Benchmarking Tool, a web-based database containing energy use information from more than 200 labs, labs can benchmark how they’re doing in terms of whole-building metrics (e.g., BTU/sf-yr) as well as system-level metrics (e.g., ventilation W/cfm).
Merck plans to take advantage of Labs21, noted Broome. Many aspects of lab work can be made more energy-efficient, he said, and projects are easier to accomplish within labs than in GMP environments.
Identify and Integrate
How does a manufacturer identify what metrics are needed throughout the organization, and prioritize them? This is where NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is lending support with its new sustainability measurement infrastructure repository (SMIR). The tool includes three components, says Shaw Feng of NIST’s manufacturing systems integration division: an indicator repository that stores information on what to measure, a set of measurement guidelines, and a specification of reporting measurement results.
“To become sustainable, a company needs to develop and implement a company-wide sustainability measurement infrastructure,” Feng says. But selecting the right indicators requires cross-disciplinary expertise, budget awareness, market understanding, and so on. Ideally, companies would have as many sustainability metrics as possible, Feng says. But practically, even experts can be overwhelmed by the scope of the task.
Sound methods for selecting companywide indicators already exist, Feng notes. Examples include the pressure-state-response method developed by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the driving force-pressure-state-impact-response developed by the EU, and the stressor-status-effect-integrality-well being (SSEIW) method for metric classification developed by Oklahoma State University’s Karen High. “The proposed hierarchy can be applied within the framework of life-cycle assessment (LCA), which provides a promising solution to "best-practice" metric identification as well as expanding the LCA applications to the sustainability field,” writes High .
“A company can select suitable indicators by going through the process of problem analysis, risk characterization, pressure point identification, and goal setting,” Feng says. Once that’s been done, the manufacturer can measure processes and apply valid benchmarks by which to improve.
1. Sustainability: The “Embracers” Seize Advantage. MIT Sloan Management Review. 2011. http://sloanreview.mit.edu./files/saleable-pdfs/52314.pdf
2. Van Der Vorst, G., Dewulf, J., et al. A Systematic Evaluation of Resource Consumption of API Production at Three Different Levels. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45 (2011), 3040-3046.
3. High, K. A new conceptual hierarchy for identifying environmental sustainability metrics. Environmental Prog. 23.4 (2004), 291-301.
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