The Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) Initiative, a collaborative effort involving five federal agencies, state and local governments, utilities, and manufacturers to support sustainability, boost competitiveness, and spur job growth and innovation in local and regional economies while, recently completed successful pilot projects in Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a partner in the effort, through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Additional E3 pilot projects are under way in Alabama, Michigan, and West Virginia. Others, including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, have expressed interest in starting E3 projects.
Leveraging the resources of the Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Department of Labor, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, the E3 Initiative will provide customized assistance to manufacturers as they act to improve their competitiveness and business performance. The process begins with a comprehensive assessment of a process or facility, focusing on lean manufacturing, energy use and environmental practices to identify opportunities for improvement. With a focus on continuous improvement, the team then works with the company to identify resources, available financing options, training and capacity building to support the implementation strategy.
Each federal partner brings its specific expertise and resources to this collaborative initiative. NIST MEP offers its more than 20 years of experience in helping their clients to reduce costs while growing their business through lean manufacturing and innovation. The Small Business Administration is providing counseling services and, as applicable and available, financing for business improvements through its loan programs and Small Business Development Centers. The Department of Labor coordinates with the team on training needs in support of the project and works to align with workforce development funding that may be available. The Department of Energy provides direct support through its Industrial Assessment Centers, it has additional programs, including the Industrial Technologies Program, Save Energy Now Leaders program, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, designed to help businesses improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use and emissions. Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency offers pollution prevention expertise through state-based experts and its Climate Leaders program, a partnership with industry that measures emissions and sets aggressive reduction goals.
"Sustainability has become a key driver of economic growth due to economic, environmental and societal challenges and opportunities," says NIST MEP's Alex Folk. "Our goal is to help companies gain a competitive edge and access to new markets by reducing environmental and energy costs through the development of new sustainable materials, products and processes. We see this as an opportunity to strategically re-position U.S. manufacturing."
This year, NIST MEP has completed over 50 sustainability-related projects, with a goal of completing 100 by the end of the year. E3 is one of several partnerships through which MEP intends to meet these targets.
Companies interested in becoming involved in the E3 Initiative should contact Alex Folk, alex.folk [at] nist.gov, (301) 975-8089.