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William A. Levinson


ISO 14001, ISO 50001 Benefit the Environment and the Bottom Line

A matter of muda

Published: Monday, December 17, 2018 - 13:03

The U.S. government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment warns that climate change “creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.” The same report mentions increased risks of wildfires along with droughts in the Southwest.1 There are numerous financial advantages, regardless of the role of carbon emissions in climate change, to use ISO 50001:2018—“Energy management systems—Requirements with guidance for use” to reduce these emissions, and also to adapt its new clauses to the environmental management system ISO 14001:2015.

Climate change and risk

Climate change is a fact of geological history. There were once no polar ice caps at all, and fossils of prehistoric fish prove that much of the central United States was once a sea bed. New York’s Finger Lakes and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains were created by glaciers during the Ice Ages. Had Napoleon Bonaparte been around roughly 9,000 years ago, he could have simply marched his Grande Armée across the Doggerland—now submerged beneath the North Sea—into England. Various folk tales recount legends of sunken cities, while the story of the Egyptian city of Heracleion is now a proven fact.

Coastal cities like New York might one day be similarly covered by water, regardless of what humans seek to do about climate change. Nobody who is familiar with Hurricane Agnes (1972) buys property near the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. Risk management might similarly include not purchasing real estate near any coastline—at least not with any expectation that it will be usable 50 or 100 years from now.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane contribute to global warming, but their role is probably less important than factors such as solar activity over which we have no control. Considerable controversy has surrounded the need to act on greenhouse gases for reasons ranging from outright denial from opponents of regulations to extremely mixed messages from supporters, such as using private planes and other energy-intensive forms of transportation to attend a climate conference.2

The physical sciences do not have political affiliations or agendas. They are what they are, and they offer profitable and noncontroversial solutions to whatever problems greenhouse gases might cause. There is no guarantee that they will prevent climate change, even through the creation of a carbon-neutral energy economy, but they will at least leave all stakeholders (i.e., relevant interested parties including customers, employers, workers, and society) richer rather than poorer for trying. This is the best that anybody can do, and this is where ISO 50001 and ISO 14001 can help.

The material and energy review

ISO 50001:2018 includes the following clauses that do not have counterparts in ISO 14001:2015 but can be easily adapted to it. These are:
• 6.3—Energy review
• 6.4—Energy performance indicators
• 6.5—Energy baseline
• 6.6—Planning for collection of energy data

ISO 50001 requires users to identify significant energy uses along with energy performance indicators, and to establish an energy baseline (EnB) as an output of the energy review. A plan to collect energy data also is required. The role of the material and energy balance, a simple chemical engineering analytical technique, suggests however that a material review can do for ISO 14001 what an energy review does for ISO 50001. The result is a material and energy review that addresses materials as well as energy, from the standpoint that any process input that is not converted into a saleable output is waste (muda). This includes not only the environmental aspects that are covered by ISO 14001, but also all materials, including consumables and stock.

The material and energy balance is simple. The first step is to place an analytical control surface around a process; in other words, the technique fits right in with ISO’s process orientation. Process inputs must then balance outputs in quantity and kind. If, for example, 100 pounds of paint, consisting of 50-percent solids and 50-percent solvent, go into a process, then it must come out as either 1) part of the product; or 2) waste due to evaporation and overspray. Overspray was an environmental issue in a Shigeo Shingo case study3 while evaporation was not, but Henry Ford had previously disliked the idea of using a solvent once only to have it dissipate into the air. He recovered solvents through adsorption, and to the extent that one gallon did the work of 10. The lesson is simply that any material that enters the process and does not come out as part of the product is waste—and no material waste can, as far as I know, hide from a material and energy balance.

Greenhouse and vertical farms are both relatively immune to drought and other climate extremes, and require less land, water, and fertilizer than traditional farms. Consider the traditional farm vs. the greenhouse or vertical farm. Water inputs, in the form of irrigation, must become outputs in the form of crops as well as penetration into the water table. I suspect that most of it goes into ground water rather than crops. Fertilizer runoff is a serious environmental problem, i.e., an environmental aspect, but note also that farmers had to pay for the wasted fertilizer just as Shigeo Shingo’s client had to pay for the wasted paint. The very phrase “fertilizer runoff” shows, in fact, that a lot of fertilizer is being wasted, which makes food more expensive than it needs to be, and farming less profitable than it ought to be. Greenhouses and vertical farms are closed systems that waste far less water and far less fertilizer.

The same principle goes for energy. If, for example, 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy go into a building for heating, and the building’s temperature remains constant, then 1,000 kilowatt-hours had to come out. Better insulation can reduce the rate of loss, the organization’s power costs, and if the power comes from a fossil fuel source, carbon emissions as well. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED-certified buildings also have lower energy costs.

Now consider a manufacturing process that, on paper, should require 10 kilowatts but draws 20; this is the gap between ideal and actual performance. The motors of hydraulic tools meanwhile run continuously to maintain pressure regardless of whether the tools are making anything, while electrically driven tools draw power only when they are adding value. “Figure A.3—EnPI and EnPI value” of ISO 50001:2018, regarding energy reviews and energy performance indicator (EnPI) value, puts this kind of gap analysis in perspective. Michael Stowe defines “loss” as the difference between the energy that goes in, and the energy that comes out in terms of value added for the customer.4 “Loss is wasted energy that is not useful to the process and degrades efficiency,” he says, which brings us back to the material and energy balance. Anything that goes in and does not come out again as value for the customer, is waste.

Carbon recovery is now profitable

Chemical engineers have known for a long time how to scrub carbon dioxide from power plant emissions, but the process has been uneconomical until recently. That is, the cost of removing the carbon dioxide exceeded the potential sales revenue. India’s Tuticorin coal-fired power plant, however, uses a new patented salt to strip the carbon dioxide from the stack gases.5 The carbon dioxide is then used to make soda ash (sodium carbonate), which can then be sold, much as Henry Ford turned the previously useless slag from his blast furnaces into cement and paving materials. The key takeaway is that it is now profitable to recover carbon dioxide from power plant emissions, which fulfills the objective that greenhouse gas mitigation should benefit all relevant interested parties.

Meat is muda

Meat is relatively expensive because most of the food eaten by the animal is consumed by metabolism. Methane emissions from animals are not only greenhouse gases, they also represent food that was not converted into a saleable product. There are some very good health-related reasons to avoid red meat, which I have done for 30 or so years. Red meat has been implicated as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.

Researchers are, however, developing ways to grow meat from cell cultures, as opposed to harvesting it from animals. It has the advantages of:
• Growing only the part of the animal one wants, without any unwanted by-products
• Not expending food energy to keep an animal alive
• No intestinal bacteria that turns food into methane rather than meat
• No animal welfare issues
• Quite possibly no animal fats and associated risks

This again exemplifies the principle that any input that does not come out as saleable product is waste, and a material and energy balance on a food animal will rapidly expose a lot of waste.

Beware of waste that hides in plain view

The World War II German board game Jagd auf Kohlenklau (“Hunt for the Coal Thief”) personifies energy waste as a man with a walrus-like mustache and a bag of stolen coal on his back. Unusual for propaganda at this time, the game did not target Jews or other people, but the personification of waste. This noncontroversial game directs animosity—and action—solely against waste, and is therefore socially acceptable in modern Germany, as shown by the Energy Consumer’s Union. Some of the game spaces cite energy conservation practices that are very common today, such as ensuring that windows do not leak and turning off heat and lights in unused rooms. It also suggests making heat work twice by heating water for dish washing in a tower cooker. The game also showed why people should use electricity during off-peak hours.

The takeaway is that the Kohlenklau—or perhaps we can call him “Mr. Muda”—can do most of his business in plain view when people do not know how to recognize him. We have already shown why he cannot hide from a material and energy balance, but now consider how much energy is wasted to move bottled tea because the product is mostly water. Tap water costs roughly a penny a gallon but it also weighs 8.34 lb, which means the cost of 16 cups of bottled tea includes (mostly) the cost of transporting 8.34 pounds along with the cost of the containers and labeling. The weight of 16 tea bags, or the equivalent in loose tea, is but a few ounces. The same principle applies to the cost of any product, such as carbonated drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, and canned soups, that are mostly water. Condensed soups and powdered soups are cheaper for exactly this reason. Another way of saying this is, if we increase a truck’s fuel economy by 10 percent but continue to transport water—Mr. Muda disguised as the product—we might still be throwing away several times as much energy as we need while generating unnecessary carbon emissions.

Packaged air is meanwhile of value only to astronauts and divers, and it is telling that they usually carry concentrated oxygen without the nitrogen that constitutes roughly 79 percent of our atmosphere. This fact does not, however, seem to discourage people from shipping products such as popcorn rather than popping kernels, and puffed cereals that consist primarily of air. I have personally gotten nutritional supplements and soy powder in bottles that contain a high proportion of air and, in some cases, 80 percent air. The latter means that the costs of shipping, and greenhouse gas emissions, are five times as much for the latter as what they need to be. I brought this to the attention of one supplier, which changed over from plastic bottles to resealable bags that contain mostly product. I don’t know whether this was the result of my feedback, but the takeaway is that any relevant interested party, including a customer, truck driver, or store manager—the latter in the context of occupying limited shelf space—is often in a position to identify waste.


The Fourth National Climate Assessment, along with the recent wildfires in California and elsewhere, have refocused public attention on the issue of climate change and a perceived need to address greenhouse gas emissions. Resistance to change has been primarily due to the perception that any solution, such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade legislation, would involve a win-lose situation in which some stakeholders would benefit at the expense of others. ISO 50001, however, offers proven solutions that deliver lower costs for customers, higher profits for companies, and higher wages for workers at the sole expense of the Kohlenklau or Mr. Muda—fictional characters who do not care, do not vote, and have no influence whatsoever in Congress. The same principle carries over into ISO 14001 when we recognize that the cost of any material not wasted—whether or not it is an environmental aspect—can be simultaneously redistributed as profits, wages, and lower prices.

1. Leavenworth, Stuart. “Climate change could triple the frequency of large wildfires, says new federal report.” McClatchy DC Bureau, Nov. 23, 2018.
2. Gilligan, Andrew. “Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes, and caviar wedges.” The Telegraph, Dec. 5, 2009.
3. Robinson, Alan (editor). Modern Approaches to Manufacturing Improvement: The Shingo System. Productivity Press, 1990, pp. 101–102.
4. Stowe, Michael L., P.E. “A Ten-Step Process for Energy Analysis.” Chemical Engineering Progress, Nov. 2018, pp. 36–41.
5. Harrabin, Roger. 2017. “India’s double first in climate battle.” BBC News, Jan. 3, 2017.


About The Author

William A. Levinson’s picture

William A. Levinson

William A. Levinson, P.E., FASQ, CQE, CMQOE, is the principal of Levinson Productivity Systems P.C. and the author of the book The Expanded and Annotated My Life and Work: Henry Ford’s Universal Code for World-Class Success (Productivity Press, 2013).


Excellent treatment of what could be a deadly subject

Bill has outdone himself with his approach to identifying hazardous and energy waste. His examples are most entertaining. I kept reading not only for the point of the article, but because I wanted to see what Bill would use next as an example of another waste. I learned a lot from the article and had fun at the same time. Well done!!!

No evidence

There is no evidence whatsoever that man's CO2 has caused any of the warming since the Little Ice Age. Anyone who claims otherwise, should present evidence.  I have spoken to Dr Trenberth, IPCC ... he claimed the evidence was sea levels.  He ran away when I pointed out that sea levels have been rising at a DECREASING rate for the past 20,000 years.

When Jerico was being built, the Earth warming 16 TIMES faster.

Global warming is just another scam.

why so equivocal on climate change?

It is certainly occuring and it is certainly attributable to man-made causes.

You undercut your credibility by downplaying the risks

Climate Change vs. Climate Change®™

There is a difference between climate change and Climate Change®™.

sunken cities are proven fact, and new York may very well be undeerwater in a few centuries, much like Heracleion is today. 

But Climate Change®™ is a hoax. 

  http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/06/foreigners_see_president_trump.html#vf-11000109963048 "Climate change" is just another left wing political pseudo religion like Lysenkoism.  If you have to lie about the data, it's for a reason.  Trofim Lysenko, for his personal aggrandizement, destroyed Soviet agriculture to the point where it could never recover.  Like him, the Al Gores of this world want to destroy the U.S. economy for their own benefit.