Manufacturing, along with other industrial processes, is one of the primary industry sectors being targeted for green technology use. Traditional manufacturing methods are transforming into lean, green conserving machines that benefit the planet and the bottom line.
More than that, companies need to communicate how they are dealing positively with climate change to customers who increasingly demand environmentally responsible practices. The consumer class has expanded to the point where upward price pressures are being placed on resources, including construction and industrial materials, energy, and water. The costs of conservation and green technology are more easily justified in this financial climate.
Globally, government-led incentives are being developed for businesses willing to adopt emerging green technologies (EGTs).
What Exactly Is Green Technology?
Plunkett Research defines green technology as the “application of advanced systems and services to wide variety of industry sectors to improve sustainability and efficiency.”
EGTs commonly show improvements in:
- Energy efficiency and conservation
- Water conservation and quality
- Reduction of waste, carbon emissions, and emissions of toxic gasses
In addition, these technologies create systems that promote reuse and recycling of all types of materials.
EGTs can be split into a number of categories including energy; water; environmental, pollution devices and services; and engineering, architecture, and design.
Renewable and alternative energy production and storage coordinates with energy conservation through the use of green building materials and processes.
Water saving is predominantly performed through conservation and recycling. However, production of potable water is also being promoted through alternate sources such as the desalination of sea water.
Environmental , Pollution Devices and Services
Waste management and disposal have changed over the years to emphasize recycling and reusing what were previously waste materials.
Pollution services include the reduction or elimination of toxic waste and controlling emissions. Services include compliance auditing and inspection as well as engineering, testing, and consulting. Other areas impacted by the green wave are product and systems design and re-engineering to meet new regulations.
Engineering, Architecture, and Design
EGTs are also creating changes within product design and industrial process design, including factory automation, in an effort to drive efficiencies in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products and building design.
We Must Manage Our Resources
The EPA stated that in 2013 the industrial sector accounted for 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions, right behind electricity production and transportation. The increasing cost of water and energy has caught the attention of manufacturers since 22% of the GDP is produced in water-scarce areas. If things continue at this pace, up to 45% will be produced in these areas by 2050.
When resources are limited, so is growth. This means manufacturers must look for long-term annual savings, not just short term fixes.
Green Technology Can Boost Manufacturing Activity
Somebody has to design and fabricate wind turbine components and solar panels, as well as transport them to where they need to go. Diesel and port fees are rising, discouraging off-shore production and transportation. Green technology could be a boon to U.S. manufacturing.
Green technology will require skills and manufacturing expertise to cost effectively produce components for solar arrays, energy storage, and other technology.
- The number of parts to build green technology must be reduced
- Manufacturing of green technology must orient itself to mass production and efficiency
- EGTs must align themselves to industry standards and capabilities
- Supply chains for glass, steel, adhesives, and controls must be built
All of these things are needed to reduce the cost to manufacture green technology to the point where it is a (pardon the pun) sustainable business in itself. The demand is there. Green technologies are available and are being integrated into the manufacturing industry every day, making new companies eligible for government contracts and helping them attract and retain customers.
Traditional manufacturing is changing, as it always has, to incorporate new technologies that increase efficiency and decrease cost. It is now integrating green technology because it not only saves money, it saves the Earth. It’s the right thing to do.
If you liked this article, here are others you might also find interesting:
- Why Your Factory is Failing in Its Green Initiative
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- Green Manufacturing is a Global Practice