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systems-based, life-cycle approach. As applied to facilities, this means that both the initial siting decision and the decision to refurbish, sell, or close the facility should take into account the environmental implications of those actions. The second is to realize that this field is in a nascent stage of development. What we present here, therefore, represents an initial effort to define a DFE tool to evaluate ERFs, which we anticipate will be considerably elaborated in the future.
Any methodology that is to be broadly applicable to facilities must be process rather than technology oriented. A fast-food restaurant and a silicon chip manufacturing plant are vastly different in function and technology, yet it is appropriate and necessary to make the same basic evaluations of both. The tool we are proposing here is designed to establish and support a generally applicable assessment process. In practice, however, characteristics specific to the location, purpose, local ecology and demographics, and embedded technology of each facility will come into play in performing the evaluation.
Experience appears to demonstrate that a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a complex facility is most effective when it is done in modest depth and in a qualitative manner by an industrial ecology specialist. To facilitate such assessments, we have devised a standardized environmentally responsible facility matrix, supported by a checklist to guide assessors in valuing the matrix elements. The matrix scoring system provides a straightforward means of comparing options, and dot charts are recommended as a convenient and visually useful way of calling attention to those design and implementation aspects of the facility whose modification could most dramatically improve the ERF rating.
ERF assessment need not and should not be applied only to manufacturing facilities. Any facility providing products or services—oil refineries, auto body shops, fast-food restaurants, office buildings, and so forth—can benefit from the approach. It would not be unreasonable, in fact, for developers of private housing to use this methodology, if incentives could be created for them to do so.
The ERF Matrix
A suitable ERF assessment system should:
allow direct comparisons among facilities,
be usable and reasonably consistent across different assessment teams,
encompass all stages of facility operations and all relevant environmental concerns, and
be simple enough to permit relatively quick and inexpensive assessments.
The central feature of the system we recommend is a five-by-five matrix, one dimension of which is environmental concern, the other of which is facility activities (Table 2). The assessor studies the different activities within the facility and their impacts and assigns to each element of the matrix a rating from 0 (high-