BEP in the News

UNR Business Environmental Program head: ‘Green’ can be profitable

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Northern Nevada Development Authority was told Oct. 24 being “green” doesn’t have to cost businesses on their bottom line.

Chris Lynch, head of the UNR Business Environmental Program, told an audience of about 40 he was told by one businessman “environmental is nice, but I don’t have time for it.”

“First, when it’s the environment, you don’t have a choice,” he said. “You have to comply.”

The alternative, he said, is fines and even jail time. Lynch cited one company he said makes an aftermarket product that can boost horsepower of a diesel engine. The problem, it actually increased particulate emissions beyond EPA standards so, when the government found out, they levied a heavy fine on the company. The problem was if the device was used on a race track, it was legal but not if used on a street vehicle.

He said the solution was for the company to do a “supplemental environmental project” instead of paying a fine so the company chose to fund a rebate program to help wood stove owners swap out their old inefficient stove for a new, less polluting stove. He said that program has resulted in replacing nearly 200 old woodstoves in the Reno Sparks area.

Lynch said the UNR center is focused on building better businesses while reducing environmental impacts and even increasing a company’s market share. He said creative analysis of a business’s practices can make it more green and more efficient without hurting — and often times helping — the bottom line.

He said the center can help businesses start that process by doing “a full compliance review.” He said that means such things as installing LED lights. He cited an area casino that swapped out old style lights for LEDs, starting with “all those hallways that are lit 365 days a year.”

That change, he said, produced a $20,000 savings a month. The automobile museum in Reno, he said, converted to LED lighting at a cost of $37,000, resulting in savings that paid that amount off in just 16 months.

He said a manufacturing company that used solvent for cleaning was buying 125 gallons every month while disposing of the old solvent as hazardous waste for $40,000 a year.

After they bought a solvent recovery system, the company saved $34,000 a year in solvent purchases and waste disposal costs by reusing most of that solvent.

Lynch said being green can produce significant savings for businesses if those businesses think outside the box and look at what they’re using and how it might be changed.

He said one interesting proposal is by a company at Lake Tahoe looking to bring Tesla-style electric sports boats to the lake.

“You might start seeing these really quiet boats out on Lake Tahoe — much less polluting,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s easy,” he said. “Sometimes it takes hard thinking. Opportunities abound.”

For those interested, Lynch said the Nevada Business Environmental Center is there to help — and does it for free.

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