RIT Expert Chairs Group Advising U.S. Government on Sustainable Manufacturing

Golisano Institute for Sustainability helps in creation of toolkit for sustainable manufacturing

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Nabil Nasr

Sustainability in the manufacturing world is no longer a buzzword—it’s a business must. That’s exactly why the federal government tapped Nabil Nasr, director of Golisano Institute for Sustainability, to advise in the creation of a toolkit for manufacturers in how to partake in sustainable manufacturing practices.

Nasr, a world-renowned expert in sustainable manufacturing, served as chair of an advisory board that helped the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development create the “Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit.” The OECD is an international economic organization of 34 industrialized countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

The toolkit provides a set of key indicators or metrics, which companies large and small, domestic and international, can use to measure their environmental performance.

“We’re excited to take the good work we do here at Golisano Institute for Sustainability and turn it into a model that American and international manufacturers can use to better their companies environmentally speaking and ultimately save money in the long run,” says Nasr. “We’re certain that sustainable manufacturing is the key to a healthy and robust economy.”

The advisory expert group, chaired by Nasr, consisted of 50 experts from 17 countries.

The toolkit is comprised of two components. It includes a 54-page start-up guide that lays out seven steps to environmental excellence. It also includes the OECD Sustainable Manufacturing Portal, which is a website that includes information on the program.

The toolkit provides a set of the comparable indicators to measure the environmental performance of manufacturing facilities and products such as overall energy consumption as well as the mix of sources that provide your energy.

It is geared toward businesses of any size, sector or country and includes guidance on how to use the metrics given in the toolkit and to identify and make improvements.

Sustainable manufacturing—creating products in an environmentally and socially responsible manner—has become the focus of research at Golisano Institute for Sustainability. The institute recognizes that “greening” the manufacturing process is key to achieving global competitiveness.

The global market for low-carbon products already exceeds $5 trillion and companies that demonstrate green credentials are enhancing their financial value.

The toolkit is a resource made through the U.S. Department of Commerce Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Green Growth Initiative.

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability, founded in 2007, is a world leader in promoting sustainability through education, research and partnering with industry. The institute shares the model of sustainability with companies and municipalities in the U.S. It also shares the model of sustainability education with five partner universities in developing countries around the world as part of the Clinton Global Initiative. It currently houses one of the world’s first Ph.D. programs with a focus on sustainable production as well as master’s degrees in sustainable systems and sustainable architecture. The institute conducts cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, alternative energy development and validation, sustainable design, sustainable mobility and pollution prevention. RIT broke ground on a state-of-the-art “green” facility for the institute in April 2011, with funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and New York state. The building will serve as a center for sustainability research, technology transfer, education and outreach and will provide a showcase for green construction and design. Construction is expected to be finished in fall 2012.

The Golisano Institute has also received several national awards for its research and outreach efforts, including the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Excellence in Economic Development Award and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s MVP2 Award. Golisano Institute for Sustainability was formed in part of a $10 million gift from Paychex founder and philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano. Other founding partners include Staples, Caterpillar and Eastman Kodak Co. The institute also houses the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. For more information, go to www.rit.edu/gis.