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E3: Economy, Energy and Environment

Community How-to Guide

The Community How-to Guide is intended to help companies, local government agencies, and community organizations team up to implement E3. While this guide gives a general overview of the process, E3 can be customized to meet the needs of each community and its manufacturers.

  • Step 1. Assemble the Community's E3 Team

    An E3 project begins with a declaration of intent (following research) by an interested person or organization. This person or organization typically takes on the role of the project lead and works to assemble an E3 team, secure funding and resources for the project, and draft a project charter.

    Many types of organizations can participate in the E3 process. Organizations eligible to participate in E3 include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Local and municipal governments
    • Local or regional utilities
    • State government agencies
    • State universities
    • Local manufacturing extension partnerships (MEPs)
    • Local industrial assessment centers (IACs)
    • Local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
    • Local Workforce Investment Boards
    • Cooperative Extension System experts

    A community's E3 team can include any of these organizations, but could also include other stakeholders involved with the manufacturing community, such as representatives from the insurance industry. Insurance underwriters and companies are beginning to consider sustainability as beneficial when writing manufacturers' insurance policies.

    If you do not see your type of organization listed here, contact us to find out if you are eligible to start an E3 project in your area.

    If you are interested in the E3 process and ready to plan an E3 project, simply register online. When registering your intent to start an E3 project, you will need to identify a primary contact who will serve as the E3 project lead. The project lead should at least be familiar with the types of manufacturing sectors that operate in the community; experience working with grants and the local MEP and IAC are helpful, but not necessary.

    Project lead roles and responsibilities can include:

    • Assembling the E3 team.
    • Coordinating E3 team meetings.
    • Establishing criteria to identify manufacturers and other companies to take part in technical assessments.
    • Coordinating the E3 communication plan and project charter draft.
    • Acting as a primary contact for EPA and other federal agencies, as well as local media.

    To move forward with your E3 project, the project lead will be responsible for holding regular planning meetings, during which the team will:

    • Participate in a project kickoff meeting to learn about to the E3 process.
    • Garner commitments from the various team members and have them agree on the scope and scale of the project.
    • Make sure the project scope makes sense socially, politically, and environmentally.
    • Agree on a timeline for activities and the project's financial needs.
    • Decide which of the team member organizations will contact companies to gauge their interest in participating in an E3 assessment.
    • Garner support from state agencies, mayors, foundations, utilities, local business organizations, and nonprofit organizations.
    • Engage local utilities to participate in applicable energy efficiency programs.


  • Step 2. Leverage Resources

    E3 projects are typically supported financially by leveraging existing funds. E3 communities have secured funds through project participants with a practical interest in improving the local manufacturing sector, or from federal funds already allocated and distributed to them.

    To ensure that funding will be available for an E3 project, the E3 project lead should research federal grant opportunities and contact state and local authorities to determine funding availability. The project lead can also:

    • Consult state energy and environment departments about the existence of any funds designated for sustainability efforts.
    • Consult local electricity utility providers, as many now have programs dedicated to local sustainability efforts and rebate programs and often see benefits of reduced industrial demand.
    • Research project participants who have a practical interest in improving the local manufacturing sector.
    • Contact the local SBDC.
    • Contact local private foundations to see if any are currently funding efforts to strengthen local communities.
    • Look for periodic announcements soliciting proposals for sustainability efforts like E3.

    To cover assessment costs, E3 teams commonly charge participating manufacturers a modest fee to participate in the project. The return on the manufacturer's investment, as observed in past E3 projects, is quite high and can typically be achieved within the first year of the project.


  • Step 3. Draft Project Charter and Communication Plan

    It is very important that the community's E3 team draft and agree on a project charter. To create a well-drafted project charter, the E3 team should include all of the decisions made during the project planning phase, as well as local project goals, a communication strategy, an outreach strategy, distribution of responsibilities, and a project schedule.

    The E3 team should create a well-organized communication plan that documents the team's intent to hold regular meetings, lists points of contact for each organization participating in the project, and identifies technical assistance leads for the planning, implementation, and follow-up stages of the technical assessments.

    Refer to this charter template and communication plan template (DOC) (11 pp, 120K) while crafting a project charter and communication plan.

    Once the E3 project charter is finalized, consider holding a media event to accompany its signing and/or issuing a press release to announce the E3 project. Holding a media event and/or issuing a press release will attract the attention of the community and potential participating manufacturers.


  • Step 4. Identify Manufacturers

    Once the E3 project team is assembled, it's time to find manufacturers interested in participating in E3. The team should identify potential manufacturers, make sure they qualify as good candidates for the project, and market the project to them.

    The team can identify many different types of companies to potentially participate in the E3 activities. It is highly recommended that a community select manufacturing facilities with fewer than 500 employees because the expertise of the technical assistance providers is suitable for small to medium-sized enterprises. When researching potential manufacturers, an E3 team can look for the following features:

    • Requires high-intensity energy use.
    • Employs high-quantity solid waste generation.
    • Practices high-quantity water use or withdrawal.
    • Meets any selection criteria specific to the community and agreed upon by the E3 team.
    • Offers workforce development or employee training.

    When selecting a manufacturer, your team should consider whether it has the resources to effectively implement E3 recommendations, as some recommendations may include capital improvements. The local Small Business Administration or SBDC can assist in selecting appropriate manufacturers to participate in an E3 project.

    The E3 team must meet with the identified manufacturer(s) and present them with an E3 project overview. This meeting is necessary to explain the E3 process and what is expected of the participating company, as well as answer questions the company might ask.

    The initial meeting is also a good opportunity to make manufacturers aware of the proposed schedule, the types of data that will be required during the assessments, and how to gather baseline data in preparation for the assessments.


  • Step 5. Sign Contracts and Schedule Assessments

    Next, the E3 team and each participating manufacturer sign a contract and select assessment dates. Each contract should include the assessment schedule, a description of assessment deliverables, and any costs incurred by the manufacturer. The contract should clearly state that the manufacturer is committing to fully participating in the E3 project and does not have any objections to the proposed schedule or the project's scope and objectives.

    While it is ideal that technical assistance providers conduct the entire E3 assessment during a concurrent three- to four-day timeframe, it does not always happen that way. The E3 process depends upon the participation of several technical assistance organizations, so scheduling conflicts may hinder full team participation. The technical assistance providers should strive to coordinate their schedules to provide a seamless delivery of the E3 assessments and reduce the impact on the company.

  • Step 6. Conduct E3 Assessments

    Once a manufacturer commits to participating in the E3 assessments, the E3 team goes into action. The team—made up of appropriate technical assistance experts—conducts assessments and presents a comprehensive package of services to the company to improve its environmental performance, energy efficiency, and economic condition. The E3 team presents assessment findings to the company in one comprehensive final report.

    Assessments can also include continuous improvement training and discussions on how the company can take lessons learned through the E3 assessment and apply them to other aspects of its manufacturing process.

    Assessment Subtask 1. Establish Baseline

    During the E3 assessment process, the E3 team must establish a baseline for the individual manufacturer. The baseline should reflect the current state of the company (prior to assessment) and any improvements the company makes as a result of the assessment. A good baseline includes data for a variety of lean, energy, and environmental metrics. The E3 team usually holds a brief meeting with the company or a series of phone interviews to help establish the company's baseline data prior to the assessment.

    The E3 team should also establish assessment boundaries to ensure the maximum impact of assessment time and resources, as too broad an assessment scope allows for only a global view of the company. Examples of well-established boundaries include limiting the assessments to a specific product line, a few interconnected process lines, or one building in a facility complex. If the E3 team will be developing a value stream map (VSM) as part of the assessment, the team should identify the process or product line to be mapped during this step.

    The E3 team should also provide each company with the assessment schedule and agenda so the company can properly prepare for the assessment, as well as identify key personnel to participate in the training, assessment, and baseline data collection.


    Assessment Subtask 2. Conduct Lean and Green Assessment

    The E3 team conducts a lean and green assessment at the participating manufacturer's facility. The assessment is meant to identify the company's root cause of waste and inefficiency, as well as recommend lean and environmental improvement opportunities for that company. EPA is not involved in any technical assistance.

    During the lean and green assessment, E3 technical assistance providers work to identify sources of non-value-added time or materials, identify opportunities to increase efficiency, and develop a plan for implementing improvements. VSM serves as a critical tool during the review process and can reveal substantial opportunities to reduce costs, enhance production flow, save time, reduce inventory, and improve environmental performance. If you are unfamiliar with VSM, learn how it works.

    As part of the environmental assessment, the E3 team provides the manufacturer with a carbon footprint analysis using such tools as EPA's Simplified Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Calculator. EPA offers tools to help an E3 team develop a company's GHG inventory and establish a plan to track progress toward reaching an emission reduction goal.

    Using the discoveries made during the assessment and the VSM exercise, the E3 team should document the initial findings and opportunities and include these in the final report.


    Assessment Subtask 3. Conduct Energy Assessment

    The E3 team's energy assessments can identify immediate opportunities for a manufacturer to save energy and money. University-based IACs typically perform energy assessments; qualified MEP centers or other qualified E3 team members can also perform energy assessments.

    The energy assessment focuses on key systems—steam, process heating, compressed air, fan, and pumping systems—that consume most of the energy used by the manufacturing industry. The assessment should demonstrate to each company that fine-tuning these systems may cost little, but offer the potential to yield large savings.

    The E3 energy team will tour the facility with the plant manager to identify energy-saving opportunities and prioritize processes. The E3 team collects and analyzes data to find specific energy efficiency opportunities, which are then presented in the final report as recommendations by the IAC, MEP, or other qualified technical staff.


  • Step 7. Deliver Final Report

    The E3 team drafts a comprehensive final report that summarizes and prioritizes all the recommendations gathered from the lean and energy assessments. Before delivering the final report to the company, the E3 team will research additional improvement opportunities or technologies beyond the initial opportunities identified during the assessments. Doing so adds value to the final report so it is not presented as a simple summary of the findings discussed during the assessments. All data collected will be held strictly confidential and will be aggregated in the final analyses before it is shared among others.

  • Step 8. Facilitate Implementation

    After conducting the E3 assessment, the E3 technical assistance providers should conduct regular check-ins with each company to assess its progress in implementing E3 recommendations. Check-ins can also serve as a useful forum for networking, discussing issues, and keeping current on the latest technologies and sustainability issues. The project lead should assign an appropriate E3 team member to conduct check-ins.

    One of the biggest challenges facing the E3 team is ensuring that companies make progress in implementing the recommendations provided to them. Some recommendations require minimal effort and can be acted upon immediately, while others might require significant time and capital investments. To help enable implementation, the E3 team members should all collaborate. In some instances, local utilities participating in E3 projects have used rebate programs to provide additional resources to those customers taking steps to improve energy efficiency. Other E3 team members, such as local SBDCs, workforce investment boards, or other state or federal organizations, can provide additional resources that help foster implementation.

    The E3 team should investigate ways of providing support to those companies implementing improvements. For example, the E3 team can help companies find interns to assist with data collection, locate additional training available through appropriate organizations, or highlight any other technical resources available in a given area. Technical assistance providers, such as manufacturing extension partnerships (MEPs), can also take this opportunity to market additional services available through their organization.


  • Step 9. Gather Results

    After implementation, the E3 technical assistance providers will help gather metrics data to measure the outcome and effectiveness of the E3 assessment. As part of the check-ins, a representative of the E3 team should contact each manufacturer that participated in the E3 project and assist in collecting actual savings data by comparing any improvements implemented against the final report recommendations. The E3 project lead should compile the data collected from all of the manufacturers annually and share the findings with the rest of the E3 team. All data collected will be held strictly confidential and will be aggregated in the final analyses before it is shared among others.

  • Step 10. Sustain Relationships

    After completing E3 project activities, your team should make every effort to sustain the relationships formed throughout the E3 process. The real value of committing to an E3 project is forming a network of like-minded individuals and organizations who are dedicated to supporting the local manufacturing sector. Look at the assessments and final reports simply as deliverables in a larger effort that can lead to greater collaboration and partnership among local manufacturers, community leaders, and technical assistance providers. E3 teams should maintain relationships by holding regular E3 forums to discuss past achievements and new opportunities. Every E3 project team should work toward achieving the goal of continuous improvement and greater efficiency for the local manufacturing sector.