Green Advantage Consultants is a boutique sustainability consultancy based in Detroit, but rooted in the green hills of East Tennessee and North Carolina, and in traditional environmental engineering work. This is my motto:
“Sustainability is smart…smart business…smart community!”
What do I do? I help small-medium-enterprise manufacturers in the Detroit area prepare for the future by designing smart, sustainable solutions to business problems.
How do I do this? I work with clients to create awareness of sustainability issues, build the motivation to move in the right direction, and to generate the resources necessary to make the journey to sustainability within the context of our economy, society, and environment.
In 1920, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) wrote these familiar words:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
The story of Green Advantage Consultants is a tale of two roads, both of which were roads “less traveled by.” The idea for what eventually became Green Advantage Consultants was conceived on the first road, while employed in an industry that might be voted “Most Unlikely to be Sustainable” – the Federal nuclear weapons industry. While working as a mainstream environmental process design engineer, happily designing industrial wastewater treatment facilities and hazardous waste management systems, and doing a little pollution prevention work along the way, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a national DOE Pollution Prevention Conference, where it happened that two of the speakers were Gunter Pauli (head of the Zero Emissions Research Institute, and is a leading expert in the area of industrial ecology) and the late Ray Anderson (founder and chairman of Interface Inc., which became a pioneer of sustainability when Anderson publicly committed the company to sustainability through its “Mission Zero” program). Anderson chose “the road less traveled” when he realized that the technologies of his companies and all others were plundering the earth of its resources, and that this should not and could not go on ad infinitum (for more history, please read the book Mid-Course Correction by Ray Anderson). Just as Anderson’s original inspiration to set his company on that course was (in his words) “like a spear in the chest,” the words I heard during those presentations had a similar effect, and told him that he needed to go beyond pollution prevention, and reach for sustainability. Pollution prevention and environmental process engineering were great, but sustainability offered much more potential.
After searching for opportunities in the field for some time, the two roads intersected. Eric had the opportunity to work for, of all companies, Interface – in their fabrics division, leading their green chemistry efforts and eventually their corporate sustainability strategy after a divestiture. What seemed like a dream job was unfortunately derailed by the Great Depression of 2008-2009. It did, however, engender a great interest in chemicals contained in products, processes, and plants, and the hazards associated with those materials, and how we can pursue safer and healthier replacements.
Fast forward a few years, and in 2012, Green Advantage Consultants was founded as a boutique sustainability consultancy, with an initial concentration in the chemicals and toxics area. Later on, an additional concentration in the water and wastewater area (harkening back to an earlier career phase where the design of industrial wastewater systems was featured) was added. However, no area of sustainability is safe from our attentions.
This road has made all the difference, and I believe it will make a difference in businesses all over. My clients have ranged from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute 9non-profit) to Washington State state government) to AlixPartners (global consulting firm) to NuCraft (furniture manufacturing)
Here is what some clients and past employers have said:
“Eric has been extremely helpful to us as we transition the Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) Product Standard from a private to a public process. His interdisciplinary knowledge of chemical hazard assessment and the many nuances of certification standards has been very valuable. I have appreciated the thoroughness and timeliness of his work, particularly when we needed help on a tight timeline.”
(Susan Klosterhaus, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute)
“Eric provided a very thorough & professional connection to our supply chain in order to further our goals of raw material improvements. He is very well-read in his field of environmental aspects of manufacturing, and he brought those ideas to our Sustainability team. Eric listened well, kept great records, and was accountable to complete the tasks I assigned him on a timely basis. He was flexible and willing to help in any aspect of our development team that I asked of him.” (Patrick Hawks, InterfaceFABRIC/True Textiles)
“I had the pleasure of working with Eric on a very proactive effort by his company to restrict the use of toxic chemicals in certain of their product lines. Eric lead the effort, and provided very thorough and appropriate direction throughout. Under his leadership, the team conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the system, and identified opportunities for improvement that resulted in a far superior process for his company. My experience is that Eric is a focused, detail-oriented and highly personable colleague.” (Pam Eliason, Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute)
“Eric has been a leader in prioritizing and substituting chemicals of concern in textile products. He worked on developing the details of a scheme for True Textiles that has the potential to be a model for others. He is detail driven and committed to working in a team to advance a project’s objectives.” (Joel Tickner, University of Massachusetts – Lowell)
“Eric is very knowledgeable about the impact of industry on our environment, and helped us better understand how to minimize our footprint, as True Textiles strives to make greener products with less and less waste. His leadership and teamwork helped the company to excel in integrating sustainability principles with our quality and lean manufacturing objectives. Eric cares deeply about our environment and helps other to do the same.” (-Debra Taylor, True Textiles)
So, how is Green Advantage Consultants different from our competition? We have engineering experience and design orientation, project management capability, are ahead of the curve with circular concepts, deep knowledge of the sustainability field, location in our target market (geographically speaking), lower cost, greater responsiveness, and a visionary outlook.
Today, I am focused on orchestration of circular cities and the circular economy, especially as a way of revitalizing the legacy cities of the American Rust Belt, starting with Detroit, where I am based. My mission is to help small-to-medium-sized designers and manufacturers in the Detroit area to build business value through sustainability and by embedding themselves within the circular economy of Detroit, and to help communities such as Detroit to become circular themselves.
Why do I do what I am doing? I believe that to ensure the lasting happiness of all of us, we need to pursue the creation of a safe and just space for all humanity, a society that surpasses sustainability, a society that is flourishing, resilient, and beautiful.