DuPont has had a radical policy in place for a number of years now.
Their goal is
zero defects on the production line,
zero injuries in the workplace, and
zero emissions in their manufacturing and distribution.
It has saved them billions and earned them more billions through consulting on their experience.
Or so I have read.
Zero defects is an idea that comes from quality assurance, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, W Edwards Deming, and others.
Zero injuries comes out of OSHA, EPA, and other Nixon era first wave environmental rules and regulations.
Zero emissions is quality control expanded and zero tolerance governance as well as one of the basic ecological design principles of architect Bill McDonough:
waste equals food
use only available solar income
love all the children
Climate change is moot. It doesn't matter whether it is real or not, man-made or natural. What we need to do in order to be productive, competitive, and successful requires the same things that responding to climate change does. I'm not interested in the political debate about climate and carbon. I'm interested in what works.
John Todd, one of the founders of New Alchemy Institute, winner of the first Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an ecological designer and teacher focusing on biological remediation and waste treatment, has twelve fundamental principles of ecological design:
- Geological and mineral diversity must be present to evolve the biological responsiveness of rich soils.
- Nutrient reservoirs are essential to keep such essentials as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium available for the plants.
- Steep gradients between subcomponents must be engineered into the system to enable the biological elements to evolve rapidly to assist in the breakdown of toxic materials.
- High rates of exchange must be created by maximizing surface areas that house the bacteria that determine the metabolism of the system and facilitate treatment.
- Periodic and random pulsed exchanges improve performance. Just as random perturbations foster resilience in nature, in living technologies altering water flow creates self-organization in the system.
- Cellular design is the structural model as it is in nature where cells are the organizing unit. Expansion of the system should also use a cellular model, as in increasing the number of tanks.
- A law of the minimum must be incorporated. At least three ecosystems such as a marsh, a pond, and a terrestrial area are needed to perform the assigned function and maintain overall stability.
- Microbial communities must be introduced periodically from the natural world to maintain diversity and facilitate evolutionary processes.
- Photosynthetic foundations are essential as oxygen-producing plants foster ecosystems that require less energy, aeration, and chemical management.
- Phylogenetic diversity must be encouraged as a range of aquatic animals from the unicellular to snails to fish are as essential to the evolution and self-maintenance of the system as the plants.
- Sequenced and repeated seedings are part of maintenance as a self-contained system cannot be isolated but must be interlinked through gaseous, nutrient, mineral, and biological pathways to the external environment.
- Ecological design should reflect the macrocosmos in the microcosmos, representing the natural world miniaturized and reflecting its proportions, as in terrestrial to oceanic and aquatic areas.
from A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design by Nancy Jack Todd
Washington: Island Press, 2005