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This week, I’d like to highlight the work of some companies that are finding innovative ways to conduct their business and to protect the environment at the same time.
This is timely because this week the Department of Environmental Quality handed out its annual environmental awards to companies and individuals who are using innovation, technology, and sustainable business practices to conserve our natural resources.
The winner of the 2019 E2 Award is Entergy Arkansas for its Energy Solutions program, which works to install smart thermostats in homes. The Wi-Fi-connected thermostats cut energy costs and reduce demand on the electric grid at peak hours. Entergy customers have saved a total of over 3.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity — that’s equal to over 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide — and over $170,000.
The winner of the TECHe Award is the Husqvarna Group, which is the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products. At its Plastic Injection Molding operation in Nashville, Arkansas, Husqvarna launched a program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one-third before the end of 2035. To reach that goal, Husqvarna installed a 1.4-megawatt solar-panel array, which generates approximately 30 percent of the facility’s annual electricity need. That saved the company $138,000 over the past 12-months and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 33,000 metric tons per year.
The winner of the 2019 ENVY Award is Clearwater Paper, the nation’s largest provider of private label tissue and a world-class manufacturer of high-quality bleached paperboard. Over a six-year period, the plant in Cypress Bend has saved $5.6 million per year through sustainability projects. The company cut its solid waste by 67,000 tons per year, water use by 25 percent, natural gas use by 22 percent, and electricity use by 8 percent.
The youngest winner is Anusha Bhattacharyya, who is graduating from Little Rock Central High this month and in the fall will be enrolling at the University of Arkansas on a full scholarship. She won the Department of Environmental Quality Science Award, which showcases the work of students.
She became interested in water-quality issues about a year ago, which led her to design a low-cost hot-water system for cleaning oil from water.
This is from the abstract she wrote to describe her technology. “I used a new method to nanostructure Zinc Powder called Hot Water Treatment.”
Anusha is working with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to patent her technology. The Department of Environmental Quality isn’t the only organization to recognize her achievement. The Junior Science and Humanities Symposia is a national organization that sponsors competition to promote original research and experimentation in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the high school level. Anusha’s project won the top award in the chemistry division of the competition this year.
These are a few examples of the way that the best and the brightest in Arkansas are creating a business-friendly environment that also conserves our natural resources. I am confident that there will be more to come from these leaders in the future.