Green manufacturing: energizing teamwork

How to bring people together to manage the process

June 25, 2012

Energy is critical to the operation of any organization and with prices on the rise, optimizing its use is critical to protecting eroding margins, the bottom line and its impact on the environment.

Maximizing energy savings requires the collaborative efforts of many stakeholders. Here are four steps to deploying an effective management team:

1. Secure senior level support. Communicate the enhanced benefits that a team will realize versus an individual effort. Include higher cost savings, enhanced energy security and greater buy-in across the organization.

2. Sign up team members. The number of members depends on the size of the organization. The priority should be on getting the right mix. Consider a representative from each operational area that significantly affects energy use, such as production, facilities, logistics and the front office. A member from finance can calculate and communicate financial savings, while a member from senior management will help secure required resources.

3. Create a charter. It guides decisions, keeps the team focused and eliminates confusion.
• Develop a vision that will focus and guide the team. Examples are “reducing energy consumption from a particular line” or a higher level vision such as “reducing energy consumption throughout the organization.”
• Define the objectives that will drive the team closer to achieving its vision. Brainstorm challenges and steps required to overcome them.
• Assign roles and responsibilities. Common roles include: a secretary to document and administer team meetings; a technical expert to provide engineering support; a treasurer to calculate and quantify costs, savings and ROI; and a leader to ensure the team stays focused and on track.
• Schedule meeting dates and locations. Pre-scheduling secures attendance at team meetings, especially if they are on a regular day at the same time and location.

4. Take action. For each objective, assign a champion and due date, review the status of each one at team meetings and develop solutions to any problems that arise. Communicate progress to senior leaders and celebrate successes.

Brett Wills is the director of the Green Enterprise Movement and a senior consultant with High Performance Solutions in Cambridge, Ont. E-mail

This article appears in the May/June 2012 edition of PLANT.