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Sustainable Manufacturing and E3 Join Forces for the 10th SMART

January 4, 2011
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Bill McElnea is an International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration. He leads the Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative.  

Early December marked the tenth Sustainable Manufacturing American Regional Tour, or SMART and this one took place in Detroit, MI. Sixty representatives from Detroit’s manufacturing sector, state government, nonprofit sector, academia and federal government gathered to discuss, learn, teach and embody the lessons learned from companies who have applied the concepts of sustainable manufacturing. The event was free to participants and the objective was to connect Detroit manufacturers to the federal government’s E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) Initiative, a multi-agency effort aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers and utilities become more energy-efficient, sustainable and competitive and showcase Detroit-area industrial energy efficiency and sustainability successes through company presentations and manufacturing facility tours. This was the second time the Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative or SMI has formally partnered with E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment). As the largest exporting metro region in the U.S., Detroit area businesses benefit from E3 initiatives, which present an array of opportunities for Detroit businesses looking to cut costs, identify new markets and create jobs.

Mary Saunders, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, tours Goodwill's GreenWorks facility in Detroit, MI

Mary Saunders, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, tours Goodwill’s GreenWorks facility in Detroit, MI

DTE Energy, Detroit’s largest utility, hosted the day’s morning session that featured opening remarks by President and COO Steve Kurmas and Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Mary Saunders. Saunders highlighted the range of tools and resources available to Detroit-area manufacturers, provided by the U.S. Commerce Department through the SMI, CommerceConnect and local Export Assistance Centers. Other federal government resources, such as the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, the local Manufacturing Extension Partnership affiliate, and Small Business Administration district office were also highlighted.

The day’s events included a discussion about the successes and challenges in industrial energy efficiency and sustainability. The panel included Gerald Polk of DTE, who discussed their energy optimization programs for manufacturers, a program for which DTE has allocated more than $10 million. The program also provides grant incentives to manufacturers that plan to implement energy efficiency enhancements in their facilities. Over 1,100 businesses are currently participating in this program.

A highlight of the day included a tour of Goodwill’s Green Works facility where participants had the opportunity to hear personal success stories from employees and observe Green Works’ asset recovery operations. Participants toured the facility’s sorting and processing operations which use state of the art machinery donated by DTE Energy.

All in all, the day was a great success, with substantive discussion throughout on ways the federal and state governments, private sector, academia and nonprofit sector can work together to advance the green economy in Detroit. The E3 program will provide substantial follow-up to this event, recruiting a steady stream of Detroit-area manufacturers interested in implementing energy efficiency and sustainability improvements in their own operations to enhance competitiveness and environmental stewardship. Presentations, photos, and a full resource guide from the event are available on the SMI website.