Green Six Sigma, also called “Green Sigma” by IBM, refers to a Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma (LSS) project in which the tangible benefits are also environmentally conscious – such as reducing landfill waste, reducing energy requirements, reducing variation in energy usage, and systematically conserving energy or other natural resources (e.g. water). In addition to the environmental benefits, there are also often cost reductions – trash service can be expensive, especially if the refuse needs to be hauled or special pick-ups must be arranged.
Although the term may be new, the practice is not! One of the pillars of the Toyota Production System, which developed in the early days after World War II, was its aggressive attitude towards waste – Toyota was the first company to achieve zero landfill waste in all of its operations. The tools and techniques of Green Six Sigma are identical to those used in any other LSS project.
In its 18 August 2008 press release “A Measured Approach to Going Green“, IBM describes the “Green Sigma” consulting offering. It’s nice that the company is calling attention to the fact that established methodologies can be used to promote sustainability, but don’t be confused – it’s not a novel approach.