AIChE’s Path to Sustainability

2/4   in the series Path to Sustainability

This is the editorial that appeared in the print version of Chemical Engineering Progress, August 2012.

In my July CEP editorial (read on ChEnected here), I wrote about some of the sustainability activities underway in and around Grand Canyon National Park, and how my vacation there got me thinking about AIChE's sustainability efforts. The most recent initiative is the formation of the International Society for Water Solutions (ISWS). This community of professionals will work to benefit the industrial users of water and people who set policy for industrial water use and reuse. Membership is open to individuals, corporations, universities, and other organizations with an interest in water. One goal of AIChE's Institute for Sustainability (IfS), which was formed in 2004, is to facilitate the development of measurement tools and frameworks to guide the design of more sustainable products and processes. Toward that end, IfS created the AIChE Sustainability Index, which companies can use to benchmark their sustainability performance against a group of their peers (CEP, Jan. 2009, pp. 60-63). This index is at the heart of IfS's newest offering -- the International Certificate on Sustainable Standards for Engineering (ICOSSE). The ICOSSE Suite includes a certificate program that recognizes the sustainability of a product, process, or service. A joint initiative of AIChE and DECHEMA, it was unveiled in June, and the first applications from exhibitors at the ACHEMA tradeshow are now being evaluated by an advisory board. For information or to apply for the certification, click here. The index is also the basis for a body of knowledge that IfS is developing, against which engineers and other qualified professionals can become credentialed.

A more sustainable 2012 Annual Meeting

Attendees at the 2012 Annual Meeting in November (pp. 22-23) will notice some changes related to the program book. If last year is any guide, we can expect a book of about 450 pages weighing over 3 lb. With attendance projected to top 4,500, that would amount to more than 2 million pages, or 1,012,500 double-sided sheets of paper. According to How Stuff Works, one pine tree yields about 80,500 sheets of paper. The book is printed on paper containing at least 30% post-consumer waste, so it would require about nine trees' worth of paper. Add to that the energy, water, and emissions involved in the papermaking and printing processes and shipping 13,500 lb to the meeting site, and you've got a hefty environmental footprint for just the program book. You can help minimize that impact. If you register before the early-bird cutoff of Sept. 14, you will be asked whether you want to receive a printed program book. You could choose to instead view the technical program online. There you can access the Personal Scheduler, which allows you to search or browse events, create your own schedule, check for conflicts, make notes, and either download your schedule to certain digital devices or access it from a smartphone or tablet. This year, for the first time, the program book will be available as an e-book. You will be able to download specific pages as a PDF file, or install the application on your device and read the program as if it were a digital magazine. While the personal scheduler is useful, it has some limitations, one of which is that it requires Internet access, which the e-book does not after you've downloaded it once. In addition, the e-book has search capabilities and a note-taking function. Program book options under consideration for the longer term are a web-based app (inexpensive, but requires an Internet connection) and a smartphone app (on your device, but more expensive).

What sustainability efforts is your organization making?

Image: Flying Singer


Alessandra Carreon's picture

This is a timely and important series to post, Cindy! What a great intro to one of our organization's newest initiatives. Readers can learn more about AIChE's new effort to "green" our Annual Meeting at the following link: