A handful of businesses in WNY have greatly reduced their carbon footprint, and saved money along the way. And it’s all thanks to a group of students at The University at Buffalo.
At Triad Recycling and Energy Corporation in Tonawanda, employees take waste that’s headed to the dump, and recycle it. Drywall gets shredded and turned into flooring for cattle. Foam from mattresses gets shredded too, and is made into carpet padding.
The company is already environmentally conscious. There are several wind turbines on site too.
“It’s the right thing to do,” John Hannon said, the vice president of business development at Triad Recycling.
But when the owners were approached by a group of students at UB, they agreed to try and do more.
“It’s the law of unexpected consequences: you get a student in here, they know something you don’t…. a new set of eyes,” Hannon said.
UB created a new class this semester called, Climate Change and Sustainability. Three students from that class spent hours looking at where Triad Recycling could save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
“I wanted to make a difference,” Todd Glosser said, a UB junior. “I wanted to tackle a real-world problem, with a real-world solution.”
The three noticed trucks were coming in and out of Triad constantly. The vehicles get weighted but have to wait in line many times.
And when they wait, many drivers idle the vehicle instead of turning it off. So they came up with an incentive program for drivers to turn their trucks off while they wait.
“They put a program together for our drivers… when you’re idling, turn the engine off” Hannon said. “And when they’re driving, try to drive a little more carefully.”
The drivers who save the most wins a $50 gift card.
And in just three weeks, the students found they were able to save 12,000 pounds of carbon, and $1,400.
The professors of the class say other companies, like National Grid, saved money and carbon emissions by turning down the thermostat just two degrees. Five companies all agreed to take part in the class.
“In the semester we’ve saved over 200,000 pounds of carbon,” Elizabeth Thomas said, an assistant professor at UB. “Several of those projects will continue, and that will add up very quickly to over a million pounds of carbon in a year.”
To compare that number, the average car in the U.S. releases 10,000 pounds of CO2 a year.