Committing our nation to a carbon-free energy system is big news in energy and politics. Ideally the move to clean energy will be viewed as a next stage of Total Quality Management (TQM).

Might say that TQM = CEM (Clean Energy Management). From a business and environment standpoint driving toward a clean energy system is wise. Be sure, this is not a blog about any political viewpoint. It is about our energy and economic emergency.

TQM is a predecessor to going low or no carbon, I believe. If you are not familiar with the TQM movement, here’s an explanation.

Total quality management is an ongoing process of finding and eliminating concerns or faults in manufacturing, supply chain, customer experience, employee education, and company culture to improve operations. That can enhance profits, reduce risk, increase innovation, and improve stakeholder relations. It is a long and continuous process.

One way to express the strategy: Future proof the business. “Failure to future proof your business doesn’t show up right away. Your business goes chugging along, whether you future-proofed or not but if you didn’t future proof your business, you might hit a wall when external conditions change. …Hence, rather than spread the pain over a long period of time, you experience it all at once.” (Source)

Mitigate risks is another way to say it. The road to carbon-free is lined with risks for companies that don’t take it seriously: Fines and taxes, loss of customers, added expenses, supply chain disruptions, fence line problems, becoming irrelevant in the market.

These are some beginning business steps to address carbon from

  1. Move toward zero waste: The current way we conduct business – that is, through production, transportation, consumption, and disposal of materials – accounts for 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
  2. Harness renewable energy sources: Given the finite nature of fossil fuels and the likelihood of international climate change regulations … companies should start measuring and reducing their energy consumption now.
  3. Cut business travel emissions: The transportation sector accounts for 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions each year.

There’s more, especially in manufacturing. Make processes vastly more energy efficient, re-formulate products, find supplies that are less energy intensive or environmentally sensitive, find materials closer to home…

Some examples of companies working to reach sustainability goals:

Phillips 66 and Southwest Airlines are working together on commercialization of a sustainable aviation fuel, a lower carbon-intensity fuel produced from renewable feedstocks such as waste oils, fats, greases and vegetable oils. (Source)

Schneider Electric works with its top 1,000 suppliers – which represent 70% of Schneider’s carbon emissions – to halve their operations’ CO2 emissions by 2025. It’s part of Schneider’s 2021-2025 sustainability goals. Reducing supply chain emissions from a company’s value chain is tough. (Your mother taught you to share, this is how it’s done.)

A new plastic called poly(diketoenamine), PDK, has the good properties of traditional plastics without the environmental drawbacks. PDKs can be recycled indefinitely with no loss in quality. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says can be commercially competitive and will get less expensive and more sustainable as time goes on. (Source)

Biomedical company Amgen completed a Singapore manufacturing plant in 2017. The new plant has a 73% reduction in energy use, 54% reduction in water use, and 69% reduction in carbon emissions. Amgen’s next facility will be in Rhode Island. (Source)

This is all a change in thinking. How?

Now Is The Time To Make Resilience, Not Efficiency Your Primary Business Objective says a Forbes column. Absolutely! Says the column: “…resiliency requires a broad set of competences: anticipating, understanding, preventing, containing, recovering and learning from crisis. … Because only then can we expect them to achieve stable and sustainable performance.” Efficiency is the front door to a large opportunity (and this is an energy and environmental crisis).

Low-or-no-carbon energy is possible. Can be done. Must be done. Done with objective examination, open conversations, sincere give-and-take, and no partisan agendas.