Expert Profile: Conversation on How We Can Ensure a Sustainable World

Dr. Tom Wiener IEEE Senior Life�Member, Chair-Elect of IEEE?s Committee on Earth Observation

Dr. Tom Wiener


Dr. Thomas F. Wiener is a Life Senior Member of IEEE, and an aerospace engineer with more than 40 years of experience in conducting and directing high technology research and development efforts.  As a U.S. Navy Veteran with 22-years of service, Tom qualified in destroyers and submarines. He is a former nuclear submarine commander, having commanded the nuclear attack submarine USS JACK. A former program manager of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Tom’s technical proficiencies span the fields of missile technology, inertial guidance and automatic control, and imaging and non-imaging sensors.

IEEE: What specific areas or methods should businesses focus on as they look to employ more sustainable guiding principles across their organization?

Wiener: Ensuring a sustainable global environment requires commitment and a life-long partnership between industry and society.

As organizations incorporate more sustainable- or ‘green’-focused policies and procedures within their facilities and everyday practices, our collective global society will reap vast, long-term benefits. Businesses will see a decrease in operational expenditures and society will eventually experience an overall increase in the quality of life – as natural resources will continue to replenish. That being said, companies should look to include sustainability or ‘green’ mandates among key criteria when evaluating business plans, partnerships, internal performance reviews and production cycles; many which can lead to improved earnings and competitive positioning.

To highlight an example where businesses need to take a concerted effort to ensure eco-friendly policies for societal benefit, let’s look at the case of water and an organization’s usage models. Simply, water has a broad impact on many organizations’ production and supply chain – as most often water is a key component in the industrial process, especially in agricultural-based businesses. In issues of water scarcity, or poor water quality, businesses cannot produce goods, their business will suffer and the consumer cannot leverage that product for nutrition. This domino effect of negative outputs are generated as a result of mismanaged water supply.

Companies need to be aware of ways to better conserve their water usage in any, and all, facets of their operations. This in turn will enable organizations to conserve more water throughout production operations, recycle the water used in manufacturing processes and safely manage overall water consumption. As the world has a finite amount of water, the need and criticality to manage the supply properly is of high demand, and we – as a global nation – need to ensure there will be enough to meet society’s personal, agricultural and industrial needs, without depleting what nature has so graciously provided us in the first place.

Every industry and each company should make it a goal to return to communities and to nature an amount of water equivalent to what is used in all products and their production. This means reducing the amount of water used in production, recycling water used for manufacturing processes so it can be returned safely to the environment, and replenishing water in communities and nature through locally relevant projects.

A sound method many organizations are leveraging to manage their environmental consumption is: deploying an Environmental Management System (EMS), which is an approach to ensure the highest standard of “green business practices.” By being eco-business smart, organizations can reduce its environmental impact and carbon footprint, while increasing its operating efficiencies. In following this approach, organizations undertake a variety of environmentally-friendly procedures, including:

  • an environmental management plan with direct accountabilities;
  • standards and audits to maintain compliance and improve performance;
  • engagement programs with business partners and external stakeholders to encourage similar practices.

This is just one step in the long-term environmental approach to control our global society’s usage of resources – but nonetheless – an important one.    

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