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For Immediate Release:September 3, 2008
Contact:Seamus Kraft/Michael Brown  (202) 482-4883


Grand Rapids – U.S. Commerce Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services William G. Sutton today continued the Sustainable Manufacturing American Regional Tours (SMART) at four companies based in West Michigan: Cascade Engineering Company, Herman Miller, Rapid-Line, Inc. and Steelcase, Inc.  SMART seeks to share with U.S. businesses successful and easily-adopted sustainable manufacturing practices that reduce natural resource use and energy consumption while enhancing profitability.   

“Sustainability is integral to American manufacturing’s continued global leadership and growth,” said Sutton.  “SMART showcases U.S. companies that have become more competitive and profitable through sustainable production practices, helping other businesses learn from these successes.” 

Sustainable manufacturing seeks to profitably produce goods while minimizing the firm’s environmental impact, natural resource use and energy consumption.  Convincing evidence has shown that companies that employ both environmentally and economically sound manufacturing practices gain significant competitive advantages across the board.  Sustainability helps companies comply with domestic and international regulations related to the environment and health while at the same time improving their products, image and services. 

The tour began at Steelcase, Inc.’s Wood Products Plant in Grand Rapids.  The plant was the first manufacturing facility in the world to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.  The company is a founding partner in the EPA Green Power Partnership and is a corporate champion in the Green Suppliers Network.  Steelcase designs its products to require less packaging in order to save on shipping costs, while simultaneously conserving materials.

According to the U.S. Green Counsel the LEED Green Building Rating System encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally accepted tools and performance criteria.

The next tour stop was Rapid-Line, headquartered in Grand Rapids.  Rapid-Line is a metal fabrication and tooling company that is a supplier to companies such as Steelcase.  Rapid-Line was nominated to participate in the Green Suppliers Network in 2006.  By joining the network, Rapid-Line developed a plan that included new insulation, temperature-monitoring equipment and fans to redirect heat from the curing ovens to heat the factory during cooler months.  These efforts have resulted in savings of $50,000 plus one year’s worth of energy costs.

The tour moved on to Herman Miller, headquartered in Zeeland, Mich.  Herman Miller is a furniture manufacturer focused on eliminating landfill use by 2020. The company’s waste reduction efforts and energy reduction programs saved Herman Miller $50,000 and over $1.5 million respectively in fiscal year 2007. Additionally, Herman Miller earned $1.8 million from recycling.

The tour concluded at Cascade Engineering Company in Grand Rapids.  Cascade is a manufacturer of engineered plastic systems and components providing solutions for the automotive, solid waste and industrial markets.  Cascade is the sole North American importer and manufacturer of the first environmentally sustainable, rooftop wind turbine, which provides a quiet, cost-effective renewable energy source for industrial use.   Cascade offers consulting to other businesses interested in sustainable manufacturing.

For more information on SMART, please visit: