By Glacial Wood / February 9, 2016

The Bottom Line of Sustainability? Saves Time & Money

Sustainability is one of the biggest trends this year. We are seeing companies of all types strive to be more sustainable from the materials they use to their supply chain and even their product development. Sustainability isn’t that far out of reach for commercial interior designers. As you strive to design the most impressive waiting area or a stunning hotel room for guests, focus on what sustainability provides – improvements to bottom lines. It saves money and time, and aids in the creation of a far better outcome. Take a look at lean manufacturing and how sustainability fits into this principle.


What is lean manufacturing and how does it fit with the theme and drive of sustainability? In short, lean manufacturing is a method of creating products in a way that still meets the customers’ needs and desires, but does so while minimizing waste. You’ll create more value for your consumer but you will also use fewer resources to do so.

The best way to understand the lean manufacturing principle is to look at the company that made it popular. Toyota implemented some key changes within its framework to reduce waste and overall costs while still producing a high quality product. It focused on three key factors – increasing value, reducing waste produced, and respecting the people within the business. The company structured its manufacturing process by:

  • Allowing the most knowledgeable experts on the floor to contribute to improving the process.
  • Using quality materials, but not keeping large reserves of products on hand.
  • Identifying problems and finding solutions that are robust and ever-reaching.

Lean manufacturing does not reduce the quality of the material. It reduces the quantity of on-hand material to just what is needed, therefore reducing overhead costs, and improving the consumer’s outcome. When a problem in the production process occurs, it’s not possible to simply reach for a replacement product. Rather, the problem must be detected and resolved.


Sustainability as a lean manufacturing principle begins to improve the bottom line right away. By reducing waste, you reduce how much you are spending that’s going out of the window. At the same time, you are reducing labor costs, supply chain costs, and improving overall customer satisfaction, which directly impacts just how profitable your company is. The bottom line here is that sustainable practices within your manufacturing process are not going to cost your company but rather help you to achieve more and grow profits at the same time.


It sounds like a great idea, but how can you spot instances of sustainability opportunity within your business?

  • Focus on internal initiatives that help to find risk mitigation solutions.
  • Learn new ways to reduce energy consumption.
  • Source from more local providers rather than large-scale importers (this in fact could be one of the biggest changes in your business, but one of the most fruitful in creating a sustainable business).
  • Ensure all changes you decide to make are, beyond other aspects, economically viable.
  • Invest in innovations that offer an added value to your consumer. What does the consumer want to see you do to become more sustainable?

Ultimately, sustainability is a lean principle. It is a way of cutting back on your costs, saving money, and saving time while still delivering a higher quality product to your customers. You will also find a wide range of opportunities to use sustainability as a tool to increase your bottom line. For example, the move cuts costs, but also improves customer relations. Not only can it reduce your labor costs, but it also improves teamwork. In short, it delivers a better final product, reduces costs, and improves consumer needs.


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