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NA 2010 Keynote Wrap Up: Sustainability put under the microscope

May 11, 2010

Two keynote presenters at the recently concluded NA 2010 considered the similarities between business sustainability in the profit and not for profit sectors as well as the role materials handling can play in ushering in a greener business operation in the session “The Business Case for Sustainable Distribution Centers.”

Keynoter Carol Tienken is the COO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, a facility with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification. Tienken’s 125,000-square-foot food bank distributed 32 million pounds of food last year, following at least 15 years of double-digit growth.

“It’s not a small facility and it’s not a small task,” said Tienken. “And neither was the process of retrofitting the facility with an eye toward sustainability. Every 50 cents we can save puts a meal on a table.”

John Ling is the vice president of supply chain management at Crate and Barrel, which handled 350,000 home deliveries and 5 million parcel deliveries last year. Sustainability was a top priority at the LEED Gold-certified, 1.2 million-square-foot facility, said Ling. The company has also retrofitted three other DCs for sustainability.

“We didn’t come up with huge initiatives, we looked for quick things to solve,” said Ling, who advised other businesses to, “do it for the right reasons. Don’t just do it because it’s popular.”

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