- Introduction: The System Approach to Carbon Footprint and Energy Reduction
The energy and carbon footprint analysis and reduction process presented in this book is based on the systems approach of engineering. The systems approach is a problem-solving process that focuses on a holistic view of an organization by analyzing the connections and interactions between the parts and processes that comprise the entire system. A common de’nition of a system is a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole coordinated to achieve a stated purpose or goal. The systems approach emphasizes that the best method to understand problems is to understand the individual parts in relation to the whole. From a highlevel view, a system is comprised of inputs, processes, and outputs intended to accomplish a given goal or goals. The de’nition and clear understanding of this goal is critical to de’ning the system in terms of its processes, required inputs, and desired outputs. For example, there will be very different systems for an organization that produces solar cells versus an organization that provides food services. The signi’cant bene’t of the systems approach to energy and carbon footprint analysis is that it addresses the problem from a business standpoint, consistently focusing on the organization’s goals, and confronting the problem at every stage of the supply chain. Traditional approaches tend to address the issue of carbon and pollution emissions only at the end of the process, when determining how to cost effectively remove or mitigate the waste from the facility. Many organizations also manage pollution and energy usage as compartmentalized “problems” that are managed separately from their core processes. The central issue with this traditional approach is that by focusing on these individual outcomes, overall system optimization cannot be achieved. The systems approach addresses issues at all phases of the supply chain, from raw-material procurement to the design of environmentally friendly processes that reduce emissions and pollution. To that end, the complete life cycle of the product and process is analyzed for potential environmental improvements, not just the waste left over or emitted at the end of the day. Areas such as raw-material wastes, energy usage, HVAC, and end-use disposal are examined and covered in this book. Figure 9.1 provides an overview of the system as it relates to business processes, and energy and carbon footprint minimization.