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Lean & Green ... What's In it for Me?

In our last article “LEAN to be GREEN is a 2020 Vision for a NetZero Building Industry” we introduced the Lean to be Green strategy as a smart way to fix productivity issues in building design and construction for the purpose of creating a NetZero building industry. Based upon the success of the two #NetZero buildings outlined in the case studies that were delivered using #LEAN Project Delivery, it is proposed that North America adopt a NetZero energy standard by the year 2020. The proposed adoption a national LEAN to be GREEN strategy will turn the over $100 Billion in year of waste into a truly sustainable NetZero Building industry plus help eliminate 35% of the green house gas emissions.

In this article we want to establish the business case and ramp up national acceptance of this strategy.

The SKY is Falling

In the fable the Sky is Falling, Chicken Little having got hit on the head with what he claimed was a piece of the sky shaped like a stop sign, got excited, rang the fire bell and warned his town of the impending disaster called climate change and told everyone to run for there lives. His father Buck Cluck could not see this chunk of sky and assumed it was just an acorn that had fallen out of the tree, hit him on the head. This made Chicken Little the laughing stock of town, until the next year when the aliens showed up.

In our story the aliens showing up are the extreme storms and abnormal weather patterns that are wrecking havoc causing billions of dollars of damage and creating uncertainty about our future.

This should motivate our government and business leaders to jump on board, listen to what our Chicken Little Scientists and Economists have to say, but is it enough?

Why is the Building Industry Not Jumping on Board with Lean & Green?

Having stood on a soapbox preaching how a Lean to be Green strategy can help save the planet, I have come to realize that greening up our economy for the good of the planet is not enough of a motivator, although it should be. With the vast majority of the building industry still trying to decide on LEED Silver or Gold and are still fighting it our on low bids, we have a long way to go before we get to nirvana, all new building NetZero by 2020.

The adoption of Lean Project Delivery has also been slow in ramping up as traditional processes are so entrenched in the way we do business, that there needs to be a significant trigger for firms to jump on to use lean to get us green.

How about the other type of Green?

For a select few the IDEA of a NetZero Building industry would be motivation enough jump on board with lean and make the significant investment in time and resources that are needed to build lean capabilities. To put this in perspective, my small company of fifteen people has invested five years and over $250,000 to get us to second base in the lean league.

Our motivation originally was to prove that we could eliminate enough waste to build NetZero buildings at no additional cost, which we have. Having worked on six Lean to be Green projects, we know the strategy works and are now applying the same principles and practices to how we run our business.

Now our strategy has evolved to creating a Lean and Green consulting company that can enjoy a sustainable competitive business advantage. Through efficiency, partnerships and recognition as innovative lean and green company we hope to receive a return on a significant investment and realize the the other type of Green that comes with early mastery of a skill.

We recognize that building high performance green building addresses our teams needs to work towards a higher purpose, but realize that the catalyst for widespread adoption of Lean Construction practice will be the based upon the extra profit and growth it will provide. This is important differentiator for knowing WHY and HOW to sell the industry on this much better way.

In the “Sustainable Advantage” by Bob Willard we learn that companies that work towards a higher purpose like helping to solve the climate change problem are considerably more profitable. In his study he found that companies like Interface carpets that are committed to sustainable business practices are 38% more profitable.

We also know that companies that adopt lean practices like Toyota that wrote the book on lean production are significantly more profitable. In one comparison, Toyota is shown as being 2.5 times more profitable than there next closest competitor.

Just imagine the jump in performance, productivity and profit that could be achieved when we combine the power of working for a higher purpose with the productivity achieved with lean. If we approach the building industry with the promise of both types of Green, we will ramp up the adoption of Lean Project Delivery as a means to create an economically viable NetZero building industry.

It will take two types of GREEN (sustainability & profit) + Lean to hit the tipping point for a viable NetZero building industry

Next week we will explore how to avoid the SHOCK of lack of engagement and a poor return on your Lean investment using a 3 Pronged Approach.

Murray Guy, @Lean_tobe_Green

Integrated Designs, EcoSmart Developments & Shift2Lean

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