Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

E104: How Process Improvement Can Help Address Climate Change with David Saunders

37 min read

In this episode, I speak with David Saunders, who is a retired Quality consultant and has focused his next career on using improvement tools to reduce the impact of climate change. He is a Certified Climate Change Professional (CC-P) through the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), and volunteers with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

He shares his journey on how he has dedicated his life to using his quality skills to tackle one of our biggest challenges, climate change. He also encourages others in quality and process improvement to get educated and more engaged in climate change work before other less experienced groups take over this effort. But it’s not just David who’s seeing this trend. In a 2023 survey by ASQ, “44% of respondents indicate that their organizations will be inceasing the involvement of quality professionals in ESG (environment, social and governance) initiatives in the next 3 years.”

He spent 38 years as a quality professional with ARBOR/ResCare. He is a graduate of Hobart College in Geneva, NY, and received a master’s degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He is a co-author of the book, Four Days With Dr. Deming.

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Have you ordered the new book, “Lean Six Sigma for Good: Lessons from the Gemba (Volume 2)?” The book is made up of 8 chapters written about experiences from Lean and Six Sigma practitioners, to give you tips and tricks to help you work with nonprofits in your area. All proceeds donated to charity. You can also order Volume 1 released in 2019.


Brion (B): Welcome, everyone. My guest today is David Saunders. David, could you introduce yourself? Give us a little background on your years of quality experience and, eventually, we’ll talk about sustainability.

David (D): Thank you so much, Brion. Thanks for reaching out to me. I’m so glad to be here. I started my quality journey back in the days of quality circles. I had been working for the mayor of Baltimore in the manpower programs when Ronald Reagan became president, before many of you were born. He then cut the programs and I had to reinvent myself, and in those days, quality circles was the big news. I tracked down the first quality circle facilitator at Westinghouse and I interviewed them and I learned about quality circles. I had an organizational development background, I had a Masters in urban planning, and I got into that field. And then, luckily, along the way, I actually met Dr. Deming personally. I got invited to his lectures and I became a devotee of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. I became a coach in his workshops and I became an apprentice to Bill Latzko, who was one of Deming’s real protégés. Bill Latzko is the one who suggested to Dr. Deming that drive out fear should be one of Deming’s points, and that became point number eight. Another time, I’ll be very happy to do a podcast just on Dr. Deming.

B: That would be great.

D: The company I was, with we specialized in the voice of the customer before it was called voice of the customer. We had a product called Customer Window, and we taught quality engineers how to conduct customer studies. We wrote an article in Quality Progress in 1987 called Customer Window. Intel called us right away. They bought the license, the program, and taught it at Intel for 20 years. So we had a good run with that. The company was purchased, and then I became an inside guy. I was no longer a consultant; I became the Senior Director of Quality for a big company with 45,000 employees and I worked there until I was 70 and then retired.

Then, retired, people would ask me what are you doing and I’d say Monday, I go to Pilates, Tuesday, I go to yoga, Wednesday, I do high interval training, and Thursday night, I have a poker game. My wife said, “David, this really doesn’t sound very good. You really should do something a little more substance,” and then two things happened. I met someone at my 50th college reunion that said, “David, you used to be an activist. What are you doing now?” And then I met Richard Emery, who had just written a book on climate change and I began to look at the climate change and focus on it.

I found the Maryland Climate Leadership Academy, and that I understood. There was a certification program, there were a set of classes, there were some exams, and I joined that program. It was really a low cost. Actually, the state of Maryland paid half of my tuition, which is only a few hundred dollars. For probably about six months, I studied climate change. I took the classes; I took the exams. I knew, from my daughter, that if you needed to pass an exam and learn a vocabulary, to make up flashcards. I probably had 500 to 1000 flashcards by the time it was done, but frankly, it was not that high a bar. What I come to you with is a suggestion for people in the quality field to get on this bandwagon. This is good for us personally, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the planet, and it’s good for our businesses, so that’s basically what my talk is going to be about.

B: I think that’s how we connected. I saw a post you made on ASQ, and we’re both long term members. That was really intriguing to me because I feel the same way, that the skill set that we bring to the table is unique and it’s much-needed. Even after decades of these methods and concepts being out there and people being aware of it, there’s still a lack of application, I think, even in general settings and normal production and service processes. Now we see these bigger challenges going on, and we need that same skill set over here with the same people who can facilitate those types of discussions.

D: I was sitting in class learning about climate change, and they were teaching, as if it was brand-new, as if it was a new invention, a five-step problem solving model. This is something that quality have been using for 40 years and they were teaching look at this wonderful model for problem solving. Actually, NOAA has a wonderful website and they lay out the five-step problem solving model applied to climate change. The first article I wrote for ASQ laid that out and said, hey guys, go to this website and you can see our quality technology applied to climate change. It’s just laid out very nicely. At that point, I realized ASQ could really benefit from this.

B: Very cool, and I’ll link to some of these articles and references you make in the notes here so we’ll get all that to people that want to go deeper and check that out. Tell me about some of the articles you’ve been writing with Quality Progress, which, for those of you who don’t know, that’s ASQ’s magazine that they put out. Give me a little background on some of those articles.

D: Then after I received my certificate as a Climate Change Professional, I could put CCP after my name and I had a certificate signed by the Association of Climate Change Officers, and also by the state of Maryland. It may be licensed one day. Just like we license people who do cosmetology and barbershops, we’ll be licensed, maybe Climate Change Professionals will be licensed.

But the certificate gave me the confidence to approach ASQ and write some articles, which I had done in the past. The first article was about the thing I just mentioned, the NOAA website. I wrote a total of five articles for ASQ. Two were rejected and three were published. One of them was put on the cover of Quality Progress Magazine, and a third article was one that they asked me for. The two articles that were rejected, interestingly, they were rejected why? Because they were about climate change and the reviewers actually said climate change is not a quality subject and it’s too controversial for us, so we can think about that for the future.

The most recent article is Ask the Expert, and it was about how climate change can impact company stock. I thought that was important because company stock, when I was doing consulting, and certainly when I was an inside man doing quality for this big corporation, we all knew company stock. We knew the price of company stock and we knew this is what senior management focused on for better or for worse. So when I came across BlackRock, which has 15– I don’t know if I have the numbers right. It’s in one of my slides. I was going to say 15 trillion, but let me just make sure I have it the number right of assets, $10 trillion managed assets. Larry Fink, the head of it– and you know what? At this point, I’ll just pull this up in case anybody is viewing this.

B: If you’re listening to this, we’ll have a video link to the pictures so you can reference that and look it up because it’ll be hard to explain everything here.

D: The quote from the head of BlackRock, which when I do the workshops at ASQ, says every management team and board will need to consider how climate change will impact their company stock. So this is no longer becoming voluntary. Right now, the reporting it in the SEC is voluntary, but it’s going to become a required report where Wall Street wants to know, if we’re going to invest $1 million or $500 million in your company, how will that impact company stock? My wife gave me an article. This is under the Trump world where there was an oil company that was about to spend $1 billion in drilling in Alaska and it was stopped. Why was it stopped? Was it stopped because the Native Americans chained themselves to the oil wells? Was it stopped because of regulatory? Why was it stopped? It was stopped by the banks. The banks said I don’t think we want to invest $1 billion in more fossil fuels. Let’s spend that billion-dollars and invest in wind farms and solar farms, so I think that’s what we’re beginning to see and that’s a very important trend.

B: It has become a political and a controversial issue topic, but if you look at the large companies, they all have a sustainability report or a social responsibility report that they’re putting out because they’re getting a lot of these questions and they’re having to come up with a strategy and plan around it. So whether individuals think there’s controversy around it, the big organizations and most businesses with a significant size have some kind of thoughts or at least are putting together a lot of this planning around what they’re going to do. The business world, to me, I don’t see that controversy. It seems pretty straightforward. Now, whether it’s how we’re going to address climate change versus pollution and stuff like that, maybe there’s some focus that certain companies have, but I don’t think there’s denial that sustainability is an important topic in business today. But what I think is lacking a bit is the plan and how do you get to the plan. Is it just looks throw out these ideas, or do we walk through a process of solving a problem like we would any other business problem? I think that’s where maybe there’s some guidance that our skill set can provide.

D: That’s where I basically came up with this model here of five teams, I call it 5T, for dealing with this issue. This is part of the talk that I’ve given to almost 30 ASQ sections over the past three years. Thinking about how could this be packaged, and coming from a consultant’s point of view, as I mentioned early on, we had this process to teach quality engineers voice of the customer. We put together a package, we put together article, we called it Customer Window, we had a class, and it basically gave me about a decade of consulting, maybe a little longer, maybe 15 years. But the Customer Window we service marked and we protected it, and every time we used Customer Window, we had our service mark and it didn’t get really widespread use because anyone who used that term had to come to our classes for better or for worse.

5T is open source. It’s in the common open source. Anyone can use it; anyone can modify it. It’s an open-source concept. There’s no other 5T around and it’s open source, so that was the approach here. Just as we have Six Sigma, we have the seven-quality tool, we have Deming’s 14 points, we have Deming’s five deadly diseases, I thought 5T would fit in well, and here are the five teams. This is in the Quality Progress article in January 2022. A strategy team, and I’ll walk through what that is, an adaptation team, mitigation team, reporting, and opportunity. 5T can be added to Six Sigma, to Lean, to sustainability. It’s an implementation model, and also, it’s a consulting model. I thought about how, as a consultant, you can manage this. As a consultant, you have five teams, they have to be supported, they have to be trained, then they do a project, then they do a dashboard, and then they give a presentation, and this is very much similar to the quality models that we’ve used for so many years.

So five teams, the first team would be a strategy team and that gets to why address climate change, why should our company, why should our organization address climate change. Of course, there, we start with what Fink said about the impact to company stock, but also, you can begin with your personal climate story. Those of you who attend the Al Gore training, which is called Climate Reality, which will be part of the links, this is free training available and you can become a Climate Reality Leader. There’s a process to go through, and part of that process is to write a story about your personal climate change story.

Frankly, when I first was given the assignment, I went like, gee, I don’t have any climate change story and I had to think about it a little. I realize that I do have one, and it involves Hurricane Wilma. The path of Hurricane Wilma, it went through Florida. The eye of the hurricane was right over my mother’s apartment in Delray Beach, Florida. I talked to her on the phone and I said, “Mom, the hurricane is coming. How are you doing?” She said, “It’s been raining for a couple of hours, but everything’s fine.” I went on my computer, I looked at the map and I saw she was in the eye of the hurricane. I called her back and the phone line was down. She described that she heard a freight train, the noise of a freight train, coming towards her as the eye came towards her. She quickly went out of her bedroom, in the bathroom, closed the door, and heard the windows being smashed, the mattress being blown up against the wall. Everything in the apartment, a third-floor corner apartment, wrecked, and she barely survived. At the end of the storm, she had to literally climb out of her apartment. I immediately went down to Florida on the first plane I could and brought my 87-year-old mother back to Baltimore. The insurance paid for the apartment. They just paid for everything. Of course, then they canceled our policy and my mom subsequently moved to Baltimore.

This is where we have to ask do we have anything for ourselves and for our company. So as our company, do we, as an organization, have climate change story? Have we had assets that have gone underwater? Have we had customers that we lost? Have we had damage due to storms? Are we at risk of fire damage? There was a fellow who I met and he had a company that did– they would take your documents and they would scan your documents. They were in the document scanning business. They were also in the document retention business, and they had warehouses with documents and they realized that they were at risk for forest fires and brushfires. They had to change their business model and digitize everything. It became a profit center for them because they were good companies and so you can’t store things anymore. You never know. You can’t store papers. We have to digitize. And they turned it into a great profit center for them, so they were able to take this situation, as we’ll see later, this is the opportunity team, and turned it into a revenue source. So what is our company, where are we susceptible? So that’s the first question, and in one of these workshops, we talked about that.

The other thing that we do in the workshops is we show a tape of my hero, who is Saul Griffith. Saul Griffith has been one of the leaders in this whole field, and his work is at Rewiring American. When the Inflation Reduction Act was announced, I went to the press conference virtually, and there, the senators personally thanked Rewiring America for the logic that was behind the Inflation Reduction Act. Basically, the logic is this, America, for the last four years, has been trying to put a tax on fossil fuel, on CO2. Every time it gets close, it’s turned down. The fossil fuel industry is very powerful, very strong, and they win every time, and they’ve been able to scuttle that every time. What Saul Griffith and his group came up with is instead of a tax on carbon, let’s do it with a carrot. We’re going to give a tax incentive, and other incentives, when you decarbonize, and that’s with the Inflation Reduction Act does. It basically says to America if you can cut your gas line, if you can stop burning fossil fuels, we will give you a tax incentive for doing it. Saul Griffith then has this 12-minute video that’s really wonderful and it’ll be in the links and it explains that whole approach.

What I’m suggesting is that, for your strategy team, you basically show the video, you can show it at home, and you ask the question how will this impact our company? What are the implications for our company? If America is going to build a billion new machines, and these machines are going to be electric machines, we’re not going to rely on fossil fuel, how will that impact our company for all sorts of ways? And then the book, Electrify, is in bookstores, and that’s written by Saul Griffith. I recommend that if you get into this field, this is one of the books that we read. Just as we read Dr. Deming’s book, we should be reading this book.

The first team is the strategy team, and I remember, back in the old quality circle days, and the TQM days, and when I was doing voice of the customer, we always would have a steering committee, some management team, management council. So that’s team one is your strategy team, your management group. Find a manager who is predisposed. Run away and hide from climate deniers. If someone says, “Nah, I’m not really interested,” ignore them, get away from them. I know, in my career, I have often avoided senior managers. I actually had an agreement with my boss at one point. There was a senior manager, I said to my boss, “Never put me in the room with Pat because if you put me in the room with Pat and I have to talk about quality, I probably will be fired,” and my boss, Charles Cianfrani, who some of you may know, who’s very active in ISO 9000, always kept me out of the room. So certain managers, avoid. Go to the ones who are predisposed, so that’s team one.

Team number two is adaptation, how do we protect our valuable assets. So that’s team two, what are the risks and how do we protect our assets. You can have situations where there’s water on the street. When I was on vacation, I took pictures of Cambridge, Maryland. There’s water on the street but there was no rain. Water on the street but no rain. How could that be? They call that nuisance flooding, and it’s basically sea level rise. Sea level rise, for many of us, is a real concern. We have to look at, and this is what the adaptation team does, is you can look at the local planning documents and see what areas are subject to sea level rise. They’re clearly shown by your local planning agencies, and these are documents that are available online, you can go find them. In the classes that I took, I learned to do this. I learned to go to the public databases and find these, and then identify what adaptation means.

Adaptation for sea level rise often means building a seawall at great cost. They work, but they cost a lot and you’ve got to build a lot of them. A seawall is an adaptation. It doesn’t solve the problem; you adapt to the problem by building a seawall. In one of my classes at the Association of Climate Change Officers, there was an engineer from the Army Corps of Engineers and she said she’s moving to Texas. I said, “You’re moving to Texas? How interesting.” She said, “The Army Corps of Engineers has a project for me there that will last the entire decade, and it’s about building seawalls in Texas,” so Texas is going to need seawalls to prevent sea level rise.

B: I’ve also seen where the focus around the adaptation aspect to having to plan and look at– I’m close to Miami, and so they’re looking at pump systems to try and deal with sea level rise. But they’re like we keep having to build out larger infrastructure to handle this, but the cost of laying out the seawall installations and building, that puts a financial number to the problem and now people have to step back and say, whoa, we’re spending this much money to deal with this? What else could we do to maybe mitigate or prevent this from happening instead of just putting in this adaptation? And so I think that discussion is actually, it seems kind of like you’re giving up, but actually it’s a good discussion to get the focus back on what can we do right now so that this adaptation isn’t so expensive. It’s going to be something. We’ve already gone too far to stop things from moving forward, but maybe we can slow down the size and the magnitude of this adaptation by talking about what do we need to do.

D: You can hear in the background, I don’t know, it may be annoying and will change sites, but lawnmowers. I live in a condo and they’re mowing the lawn, of course, with internal combustion engines, so we have all this noise, let alone the pollution. Someday in the future when we have electric vehicles and electric lawnmowers, and actually we probably can eliminate many lawns in general and let them fill naturally, use regenerative agriculture, we won’t have as much noise pollution from these internal combustion engines.

So let’s say we have an industrial building and we’re not ready to retreat from the coast. What can we do? We see this in Baltimore. There’s now a way of wet flood proofing your basements. You take the lower floors and you put vents in the building so seawater can come in. They will flood the basement, but the advantage is that if you flood the basement, then the pressure of the water is not leaning against the wall. If you seal the basement, you have all that water pressure against the wall and that could cause significant damage. So one of the adaptations is to wet proof your basement, take everything out of there. When the floods come, as we know they do now, let your basement flood, and then when the storm is over, drain the basement, so that’s another adaptation. At the beach, you’ll see adaptation people move their air conditioning units up a level. You’ll see them up on stilts. They’ll put the air conditioning, hot water up stilts. That’s an adaptation. It doesn’t solve a problem, but you adapt to sea level rise. I was giving a talk in California and I had to come up with an adaptation there. There, the adaptation is to make your home fire resistant. This is now a whole industry, to make a roof that will have fire resistant materials, to have a 100-foot defensible property line, to do things for your house so that it won’t burn. God forbid, we’re hearing today the terrible fires in Hawaii, people running to the ocean to survive the fires. So this is adaptation.

The question becomes what do we have to adapt, and in the classes that I took, there were these tools for doing it. They introduced it like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was a matrix. We’ve been using this in quality for 20 years and they introduced it, “Look at this wonderful tool we have. On one side, you put your locations, and then you rate what is the risk of climate change, and then you put on this next column, you can riff what are you going to do about it,” and I was like. But these are things we know how to do and these are things we can do. We can be leading our companies in this area or we can be bystanders and let it go by. It’ll be done by somebody else. Believe me, it’ll be done by somebody else. So quality people, either step up to the plate, take some classes, learn about this, go forth, or someone else will do it. Believe me, someone else is going to do it. If we don’t do it, someone else will do it.

So that’s the adaptation team. The third team is the mitigation team. For adaptation, we can think of risk management. For mitigation, we can think of prevention. This is how do we lower the greenhouse gases that we emit. Right now, my personal electricity in my home comes from a solar farm. Community solar farm, that’s how I get my energy, and my cost is actually lower than the standard price so I actually save money and I get green energy, and I don’t have to argue with my wife about air conditioning. It’s like air conditioning’s okay? Because it’s all clean energy. This is something that’s now available. Get online for it. Maybe you can sign up or you have to go on a waiting list. So this is the mitigation team, how to lower greenhouse gases.

You may ask yourself what are these greenhouse gases? What is it? I was sitting in class learning about this, and the instructor says if you take a ton of coal, coal is 80% carbon, and you burn it, one ton, you get 2.86 tons of carbon dioxide. I could not understand that. It was beyond my imagination. In my brain, I could not understand how. If you burn a ton of coal, you get ash and they’re saying one ton of coal is equal to almost three tons of carbon dioxide in the air you can’t see. So what does this mean? Part of what I had to do, and you’ll have to do if you go through this, is you’ve got to Google everything. I had like 20 pages of Google links as I studied climate change. I had to look everything up. I had to look everything up, so I looked at the atomic weight of carbon. Who knew, is 12. Oxygen, 16. Two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom has an atomic weight of 44. Who knew that carbon dioxide had weight, and if you look at the smoke coming out of my house, out of the vent, it’s just this very plain innocent looking white smoke goes into the atmosphere, we think nothing of it. But I learned to do the calculation.

By the way, when I took these classes, I think I was the only one who did the calculation of therms. They give us a calculator to do the calculation, but I wanted to do it myself and it wasn’t that hard. I got my bill out for my utility and I added up how many therms of natural gas I used every month for the year. I came up with 1026 terms, and then I did the calculation, which I’m very proud of, and it came out to 5.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide going into the air for 100 years. Then I went to the EPA calculator and I got virtually the same number, so I was safe. So this is what we’re faced with. So what is this CO2?

B: I was going to ask you how does that translate.

D: The way translates is if we look back to the year 1800, before the Industrial Revolution, a photon would come from the sun, it would come to the earth, and it would be absorbed by the soil, absorbed by the ocean, or a lot of it would bounce back harmlessly into space and this had been going on for a million years. It bounces back into space. In 1850, we started burning fossil fuel. By 1900, we had a significant amount of fossil fuel. Nothing like today, but still, the photons would bounce back into space. But by the year 2000, we’ve now been burning fossil fuels for 150 years, and a lot of it. Mankind has been very good, and actually, fossil fuel industry, although we think of them as bad guys now, they were really good guys. They created massive wealth, they created wonders for us. They did a fabulous job, and at great risk. They went all over the world and they sought out fossil fuel, they drilled it in the desert and in the ocean and in the Arctic, and they worked hard, they did dangerous things. They were smart, they were intelligent, they built this fantastic infrastructure and we have to give them credit and thank them for it.

However, 40 years ago, they discovered this is not such a good idea. Maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. There, the photon, instead of bouncing back harmlessly into space, will hit one of these molecules and the molecule will begin to vibrate. Heat, as I discovered, is the motion of the molecule, so as the molecule moves, it has more energy and that’s where the heat is. It will throw off that photon, and it’ll either go back to earth or go into space, but more of it is going back into the earth, and we call that the Greenhouse Effect. In the last 20 years, we have more of this fracking gas, which is CH4, which is methane, and that is even worse, so that’s what we are up against. You can see, clearly, the data shows that as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, measuring parts per million, global temperature goes up. They go up right together side-by-side, and you can see the graphs. Actually, this was the chart that ASQ did not print. I had a whole cause and effect diagram showing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 800,000 years, and the graph peaks up like this. It’s a famous one that Al Gore shows in his old film, and that is the chart. It was just a big cause and effect diagram with very little text, and they refused to publish it. They said it was too controversial. This is what we’re up against, that’s the science.

So what mitigation is, and here’s an example, a store like Target will put solar panels on the roof of their stores and that’s mitigation. They’re now producing their own energy, and they’re lowering their carbon footprint, and we see all sorts of efforts like that. That would be a question for the organization, how can we mitigate our footprint, and there are all sorts of ways of doing that. How are we doing? Should I continue on?

B: I have a hard stop at the top of the hour in 20 minutes, but I think we’re on good track. It looks like we have 15 minutes and then we’ll do a close up.

D: I hope anyone driving in their car or listening to this while they’re exercising is finding it of interest and stay with me. The fourth team– and here again teams because we know how to work with teams, that’s where we can be effective. You can do so much by yourself and then you need a team and we know how to work with teams, we can make teams effective. The fourth team is the reporting team because we’re going to have to report our emissions. Our organization’s going to have to do this. I was in New York City recently and the buildings would have a little plaque on the outside. You know restaurants have a plaque, how is the health department, A, B, or C, how is the cleanliness. Now the buildings have a CO2 emissions document on it, and they have a rating for how effective is this building at their CO2 emissions in New York City, and we’re going to see that. Washington has that also, Washington DC, so we’re going to see that all over the place. So there’s going to be reporting.

This reporting, now fundamentally for reporting, here is what you need to know about reporting. Go back to 1992. This is when the United Nations would hold these annual meetings. In 1992, they met in Kyoto and the host nation usually does some extra work, and the Japanese were right up on their game. They identified the Greenhouse gases and they documented them, and they set up a measurement. The measurement is called the Global Warming Potential. We’re scientists. In the quality world, we’re scientists, so we can understand this Global Warming Potential, GWP. They set the GWP for carbon dioxide at one, and then they looked at all the other greenhouse gases, the main ones. Methane has a GWP, a Global Warming Potential, of 21. It is 21 times more impactful on the environment, bad for the environment, than carbon dioxide. That’s what we call natural gas. Nitrous oxide is 310. It has a GWP of 310.

So these are the greenhouse gases, and as you get into the field, you’ll see a diagram and I tracked down the diagram. It comes from the New Zealand Business Council and it shows a cloud with these greenhouse gases in it, the seven greenhouse gases. And then the question becomes how do we contribute? The worldwide standard for this discussion is called Scope 1, 2, and 3. What you’ll see as you get into this, and this is something that we’ll be able to deal with, Scope 1 are the emissions we produce ourselves, our organization, our company produces from our manufacturing, our industrial, our service process is Scope 1. Scope 2 are the emissions from the grid, from what we buy from the outside, mainly from the grid, and that depends upon what your grid is. In some grids, they use more nuclear. In Maryland, we have a fair amount of nuclear, so our Scope 2 when we look at it, the nuclear does not count for emissions, but the burning of coal, which we still do, and the fracking gas, which we do more and more now in Maryland, that counts as Scope 2. Scope 3 are the indirect, and this comes from our customer usage.

I was on a call yesterday, a conference yesterday, and there was a representative from Pepsi and a representative from eBay. Pepsi was talking about distribution is Scope 1 because there are the trucks that are used for distribution. And eBay was talking about Scope 3 is the shipping and they’re actually finding ways to encourage shipping so that you’ll be shipping locally and they’re trying to build in incentives so you’ll do less shipping. You won’t be so quick to ship by air from California if you can get something locally, and let’s say it takes a few extra days.

So this is Scope 1, 2, and 3, you’ll see this in the literature, and then the reporting is, and it’s a simple matrix, if you have your Scope 1, 2, and 3, and then you have your different gases, and where do you get this database? You can get it from the purchasing department. It’s not hard. You go to the purchasing department. I did this the other day. I’m in a condo and we have a clubhouse. It said, it in the minutes of our condo association, that we’re going to replace the gas burner in the clubhouse. I said, “Gas burner? You’re going to replace the gas burner? You’re going to put in another gas burner?” And that’s what they were going to do and they set aside $60,000 for a gas burner. I went and met with people and said, “Wait a minute, let’s putting heat pumps.” “What difference will it make? How much more will it cost?” They said let’s see what it’ll save, so I got the bills. It wasn’t hard. They give me the bill from the utility and I added up the number of therms that they used in the previous year. It turns out 20 metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere for 100 years. I said, “Guys, do you want to do that? What’s going to happen if the community finds out that you’re going to do that?” And they said, “No, you know what? We’re going to look for a heat pump,” and then not only do they get the heat pump, but then we’re going to sign them up for a solar farm so their heat pump will be run on the community solar farm.

That is the reporting and there are a number of standards for reporting. There’s an ISO 14064 and there are several other protocols for reporting. Actually, let me say a word about this. A very widely used protocol is called the Global Protocol for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, GPC, and if you read that carefully, in the document, I remember finding and it was like on page 67, it says use the quality management system to report the greenhouse gases. Use that system. They said it right there. Clearly, they said you’ve got this expertise; use it.

I’m talking to a fellow who’s got a software program for doing this reporting, and he’s trying to sell it in the ASQ community and he can’t sell it. He says I can’t sell it. I said why? He said the quality guys are not at the table. This whole huge measurement system, it’s going to be documentation, it’s going to be computers, it’ll be data collection, it’s all being taken over by the finance guys. He said they’re at the table, they’re the ones who are buying it, they’re the ones– and you know what? It is huge already. I can show you the companies doing it, and quality guys aren’t there. It’s the finance guys who are taking it over.

B: And also on this reporting, like you said, right now it’s not really required. However, I think what my experience has been so far is that it’s the companies driving suppliers and saying this is something we’re getting asked about, and as we look at the Scope 3 and we start looking at our supply chain, we have to have a plan for them. If you want to be a preferred supplier or a supplier at all in our organization, you need to have a plan too. We can’t just manage it at this Scope 1, Scope 2 level and say this is our responsibility and our suppliers is doing their own thing.

When I worked at an aerospace company, our customers said you will do this carbon disclosure project. I’m working with a client right now, and their customer is saying you will do a sustainability reporting, and so I think, whether there’s something that comes out that’s going to require it from SEC or those who have public stock, the customers are saying this is something we’re getting pressure on and we need to have a plan that goes through our entire supply chain. So I think that’s really cool to see that it’s coming through the businesses a lot of it, the required reporting or expectations of reporting.

D: It’s like in the days where I got a phone call one day, a fellow has a bakery. He says, “I have to do a statistical process control in the bakery.” I said, “Why?” He says, “Because we sell to McDonald’s. McDonald’s says we need total quality management.” Bill Latzko, who I mentioned earlier, the Deming protégé, Bill and I, we went to this bakery and we had a ball doing statistical process control and really helped them a lot.

So now we come to team five and team five is the opportunity team, how can we profit from combating climate change. How can we do something for us? We’re capitalists. There’s no harm in profit, and what can we do in that regard. You can see there are simple things like Target stores will put chargers in their parking lot so that you can charge your car while you shop. That’s an example of an opportunity. A personal opportunity for everyone who’s listening to this call is go to the Association of Climate Change Officers, you go to, and there is the class and you can take this class. Your company will pay for it. They’ll play for it gladly. They’ll be happy to have you as a Certified Quality Professional. I remember, back in the day, our company got bought by another company, and I was, at that point, the ISO Management Rep. When I knew the company was going to be sold, I started thinking of going elsewhere, but someone says to me, no, no, don’t do that. It turns out that one of the things the company wanted to buy was the ISO Management Rep. They actually valued us because that gave them some additional capability. So your company will be happy to have you as a certified Climate Change Professional, so I urge you to do that.

So that opportunity, I have here something. If you want to see this opportunity in action, go to the Tesla Investment Day on YouTube and you will see an entire company focused on climate change, on making a profit from climate change. I have no love for Elon Musk, but I do respect what Tesla has done. If you have an opportunity team, show them that video. Show them what Tesla is doing. It’s remarkable and it’s all about making a dollar from fighting climate change.

B: Very cool. I liked the way you laid out a plan for people to go through and give them a roadmap of here’s where you start out. If you’re starting at the beginning and you don’t really have a strategy, just like anything, whether it’s a quality initiative or a safety initiative, you start with what’s our plan, what are we going to do, why are we doing this, what’s our burning platform, so to speak, of why we need to do that. So whenever we run into challenges in the other phases, we come back to that and say this is why we’re doing it, this is why it’s important. Our customers want it, the local community wants it, our employees want it, and it’s good for business.

We talked about once you start reporting some of these, when you see that you’re wasting electricity, that’s money you’re throwing away down the drain, and so that’s good for profit, and it exposes waste in your process and opportunities to make your process more streamlined. Hopefully, people aren’t viewing this as extra work, but it’s more like refocusing on different aspects of your business that maybe you’ve overlooked or haven’t seen in the past that is going to be good for your customers. It may attract customers; it may attract employees and it’s difficult to find employees today. So hopefully, they’re not seeing this as negative, but is a positive way to get ahead of your competition and really separate yourself and do things more streamlined. I think it’s a win-win if you look at it that way.

D: If you’re in the quality department, and this is something I felt personally until I had this certificate. Once I had the little CCP after my name, I had the credential to say something, but often when I do these calls with ASQ, I’d be afraid of some of the questions I might be asked. Someone might say to me, “How did you do that calculation? What is nitrous oxide?” Or some complicated question. The beauty of this field, frankly, is that when you get a complicated question, you just turn it back to someone and say, “Please Google that and find the answer.” Often, we don’t have to know everything. We don’t have to really be climate experts. We have to be process experts, and that is what we are.

We are process experts, and we can really provide value as process experts to this enterprise. We don’t have to be bystanders. We can be on the team. There may be a sustainability department. Well, they’re handling it. We can be part of that department. We can be a team player with them, we can be a help to them. This is something even for your own selfish career opportunity, to make yourself more valuable to your organization, this is something we, in the quality field, can do just to make ourselves more valuable let alone to tell our grandchildren. The other day, my granddaughter was introducing me to her new boyfriend and she said, “This is my grandfather. He works in the field of climate change.” That made me feel like a million bucks. But it’s real, and it’s here, and it’s going to be here for the rest of our lifetime for sure. For totally sure.

B: I’d reiterate that point is when I started getting into this, I had the same concerns that I don’t know enough, so I went back and took some classes in college and got a sustainability certificate. But I probably delayed my engagement a little bit with thinking I had to wait to be knowledgeable and have all this information about Global Warming Potential and all this stuff. I didn’t really. I’d needed to just bring the skill set I already had, and I’ll pick up and learn that as you go.

But I would definitely tell people just go and express interest to people in leadership that you think might have a sympathetic voice to what you’re talking about and say I’m interested in this topic. Don’t know how I fit in, but I want to move in this direction, and just keep trying to insert yourself in there. Don’t wait for an invitation and say I’m going to hope that the finance team reaches out to us. They’re probably not. Ask to be included. Say I want to be involved, and get yourself a seat at the table because they may not realize they need your help until you get in there and then they’re like this is really helpful. You do have this skill set we didn’t think about or know. So I definitely encourage people to step up and go to your company and talk and say this is something I’m interested in, how can I get involved? That’s what I did and I got a lot of opportunities out of that. We got to do some projects, I got to be part of a corporate sustainability team and it really changed my career path. But I had to step up and no one came to me and asked for my involvement, so I think that’s a great recommendation.

D: Thank you, and Brion, you have a wonderful website that I would urge everyone to go to. Hopefully, that website, focused a lot on Six Sigma, will also focus on sustainability and it’ll be a valuable resource to quality professionals.

B: Thank you. Is there anything else, David, you wanted to share? We have a lot of great info here and we’ll link to all these different resources you’ve got. I’ll put your contact information on there, your email. Any other links you want to share?

D: That one is certainly I’ll be happy to talk to ASQ chapters via Zoom. Afternoons, evenings, whenever, I’ll be very happy to do that. It’s been a pleasure. I appreciate your calling on me and asking me to give this talk. Finally, to say I urge everyone to step up to the plate. Don’t be a bystander. Get involved. In the article in Quality Progress on the company stock, there’s a whole list of movies and books and podcasts and you can really get up to speed pretty quickly in this field and it’s very interesting. It’s fascinating to see what we’re going through, and it’s a real challenge to mankind. When they say it’s an existential threat, they mean it’s an existential threat. It’s a real threat.

Let me maybe just close out with us. Think about is this an all hands on deck moment. I’m suggesting it is. I suggested to quality ASQ that we change the name to quality and sustainability, and got, actually, a lot of pushback. But the argument that Saul Griffiths makes is that, in 1935, America had 18,000 military aircraft. Six years later, we had 350,000 military aircraft in six years. How did we do it? We built up for World War II. The entire economy focused on the war effort, and that effort is what we need to do now. When we think about airplanes, we have to think about wind turbines. When we think about liberty ships that we’re building at one a week, we have to think about solar farms. When we think about communication, because communication was a key to World War II, the mathematicians and breaking the codes and all that, we have to think about smart grids. And when we think about bullets, we need to think about batteries. That is what’s at stake. I have, in my hand, the battery of the future, the rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries are going to be a big part of our future. So we can do this, we did this before. We, as a nation, did it in World War II and we can do it again, but it’s all hands on deck, and join in. You’ll be happy you did. Thank you very much.

B: Thank you, David.

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