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Manufacturing Our Nation's Clean Energy Future

This week, Chair Sutley traveled to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to visit IceStone, a small manufacturer that creates countertops and surfaces from 100 percent recycled glass, diverting hundreds of tons of glass from landfills each year.
Nancy Sutley Tours IceStone

Chair Sutley tours IceStone manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, NY (Photo Credit Flaam Hardy)

Throughout America, even in this difficult economic environment, there are examples of innovation and entrepreneurship that inspire us with their creativity and success.  I came across one of these places recently at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in not surprisingly, Brooklyn New York, a former shipyard that is now a thriving urban industrial park.  There, a small manufacturer named IceStone has capitalized on the demand for safe and sustainable products by creating countertops and surfaces from 100 percent recycled glass, diverting hundreds of tons of glass from landfills each year.  In doing so, they've created more than 40 good jobs in a daylit facility and sustainable work environment that their workers feel good about.  

As a New York native myself, I remember what the Brooklyn Navy Yard used to look like when I was growing up – a bleak space that was not an obvious boon to the community.  Today, it is transformed – it's a thriving place in a vibrant community.  With Federal, State and local support, it is an innovation hub, and a unique urban haven for small green manufacturers.  In addition to Icestone, this includes companies like Duggal, which has designed and manufactured a wind-solar street lamp, and SMIT, which is designing an ivy-inspired wind and solar energy system that can be draped over the sides of a building.  To support homegrown jobs and manufacturers like these, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has 12 new green industrial buildings in design or construction, and is adding 2 million square feet of space over next two years.

President Obama has launched a plan to spark manufacturing growth and new jobs for American families. The Navy Yard is a great example of the growth of small green manufacturing across industrial sectors, and it's a model that can be replicated in other urban centers for how to grow a city's economy, grow good middle class jobs, and build a more sustainable city. Manufacturing remains one of America's most globally competitive economic sectors, and even amid the biggest recession since the Great Depression, we are seeing this sector bounce back. My time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard gave me a valuable opportunity to engage in a conversation about how the Federal Government can better support small manufacturers that provide good middle-class jobs in their communities.  We will keep engaging in these types of conversations and following them up with action to ensure we are investing in the spark and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, good American jobs, and a strong foundation for the American economy in the 21st century.  

Besides all this, I got to be an honorary Brooklynite for the day!

Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality