What Do Pollution Prevention, Business Profitability And Green Jobs Have In Common?

By Tom Murray

The answer is a guy named Tim.

I’ve been in the pollution prevention game for quite awhile now and I and others in the field can regale you with P2 success stories well into the night. But every once in a while a story crosses my desk that just grabs me and this is one of them. A few years ago, the word sustainability crept into our lexicon and has set the world on fire. It is a cool word that many refer to as the triple bottom line; People, Planet, Profit and so forth. Well, like our brethren in other federal agencies and those with whom we partner in the manufacturing world, we have learned to speak P2 within this new concept of sustainability. We have also learned new and interesting ways to quantitatively measure our results especially as they relate to environmental improvement (Planet) and business profitability (Profit). But how do we measure the third element? – The people element? I think we do that through stories and that brings me back to Tim.

Under the Pollution Prevention Program, we issue grants through our regions to organizations which then use those dollars to put P2 activities in motion. Tim was a beneficiary of one of those grants through the 2011 Southwest Ohio Intern Program funded by our EPA Chicago office. To me, Tim’s story represents the People part of sustainability because he made the best of this opportunity. Tim, who is graduating from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in June, was assigned as an intern to a manufacturing facility in Southwest Ohio. This facility had recently undergone assessments which created for them many opportunities that when implemented would increase their profitability. Tim was asked by the facilities engineering manager at this company to help him implement these key P2 opportunities. In the short time that Tim was there, he helped save the company over $140,000.00 annually – that’s money saved every year, folks. And, his efforts helped set the stage for further improvements by this company as it waved Tim farewell and looked ahead for further environmental and business improvements on its personal sustainability journey.
But here’s what grabbed me. Tim’s efforts caught the attention of many in the engineering field including senior engineers and sustainability professionals at Honda.Motor Company. Tim announced recently that he has been hired by Honda R&D as a Transmission Design Engineer starting June 2012. Pollution Prevention, business profitability and a new job for a young person with green skills and a great attitude–that’s sustainability and that’s cool. Congratulations, Tim!

About the author: Tom Murray is a senior scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and is currently chief of the Prevention Analysis Branch in the Agency’s Pollution Prevention Division.  Tom has 40 years in government service.  Tom and his staff are the architects of several environmental partnership programs including the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program, the Green Suppliers Network and the new E3 (Economy, Energy and Environment) initiative, a cross-agency collaboration with industry focused on manufacturing growth, energy efficiency and environmental performance