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The First Five Years: 1995 to 2000

When the production facility of Malden Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts was destroyed by fire, the company turned to the Lowell Center to integrate the principles of sustainability into reconstruction of the plant. This project propelled the Lowell Center researchers to establish a definition of sustainable production and a core set of principles.

In 1996, the Lowell Center developed indicators of sustainable production for businesses to develop and measure sustainable forms of production. The Lowell Center offered a training program for environmental advocacy organizations on cleaner production, with the Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies at the University of Tennessee. This two-year project eventually led to the development of a new network of environmental activists now called Clean Production Action.

The Lowell Center helped to sponsor a meeting at the Wingspread retreat center in Racine, Wisconsin on the precautionary principle in 1997. This retreat generated a much-publicized position statement on the precautionary principle. This resulted in an International Summit on Science and the Precautionary Principle in 2001.

The Lowell Center launched a large new project focused on the healthcare sector with funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Sustainable Hospital Program faculty and staff used private foundation funds to create an information clearinghouse on health care devices and products that reduce hazards to workers, patients, and the environment.

In 1999, the Lowell Center hosted a ten-day training program on cleaner production for environmental leaders from industrializing countries around the world that resulted in the formation of a new international network called the Global Anti-Incineration Alliance/Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).