Lecture 2: Sustainability 2014-01-17
Guest Speaker: Matt Vanderkooy
Environmental Scientist at Geosyntec Consultants in Guelph Ontario. His focus was on
developing and applying innovative tools and technologies to more effectively and efficiently
remediate contaminated sites while maintaining a focus on delivering on budget and on time
projects with well written reports.
His technical specialties include:
1. Sediments: investigating, monitoring and treating contaminated sediment sites;
2. Sustainability: evaluating and optimizing sustainability using Life Cycle Assessments (LCA);
3. Bioremediation: designing and implementing bioremediation systems at chlorinated solvent
4. Vapor Intrusion & Petroleum Hydrocarbons: developing detection capabilities for small pipe
His skills and responsibilities include:
1. Project Management: effective management of scope, schedule and budget for multiple
2. Writing: many concise, well written reports and successful proposals; and
3. Presentations: effective and engaging technical presentations at industry conferences and
Geosyntec is a specialized consulting and engineering firm that works with private and public
sector clients to address their new ventures and complex problems involving the environment,
our natural resources, and our civil infrastructure. Geosyntec has a staff 900 engineers,
geologists, scientists, and related technical and project support staff located in more than 50
offices throughout the U.S. and locations in Canada, Malaysia, Australia, and the United
Our professionals continually develop new technology applications and practice capabilities.
Our partnerships with leading universities, NASA, U.S. EPA, FHWA, and others are producing
better methods for the in situ remediation of recalcitrant chemicals in the environment;
management of urban watersheds to reduce pollutant loadings; protection of endangered
species from the impacts of storm water runoff; design of industrial and municipal waste
disposal facilities; and geotechnical and seismic analysis and design of transportation facilities.
Our goal is to provide exceptional levels of service and value to our clients, to advance
technology in our primary practice areas, and to provide a stimulating, progressive, and friendly
work environment for our staff. Presentation
-sustainability, a lot of times we think that business and sustainability can be in conflict
-but they don’t always have to be
-Sometimes they can cooperate
-Paramedic orgag: a scientific consulting company
-do environmental radiation
-Head office in US but have offices in UK and Asia
-The recognition of sustainability has been increasing
-Sustainability is important for society
-In the long term, our environment or economy has to be sustainable
-Story: 12-15 years ago, his friend was working at a contaminated site in California, here they
had contaminated ground water. The big company had to extract that groundwater and
discharge it into a river. The problem is, California is not Ontario, California is a dry place. When
they try to extract the groundwater, their bringing down the groundwater levels in this area. That
means the surrounded area was not having a good amount of water supply. People were
treating this water to portable drinking water standards and then discharging it to the river. The
people nearby asked to use that water supply since their short on water supply. The company
said sure. But, when you look at the regulation in that area, they couldn’t transfer the clean
portable water for usage. Instead it would go into a river with pollution runoff and go to the
Ocean. This is the place where we use the concepts of sustainability to get to a better result.
-What is sustainability?
-In 1887, they defined sustainability as meeting the needs of people without compromising the
ability of future generations to fulfill their needs.
-Sustainability is broken down into three domains: social, environment and economic. This is the
triple bottom line.
-Lets see the situation with the groundwater being extracted and water levels are going down.
-In sustainability you trying to clean up the environment but socially and economically its harder
for the town to get their supply of water
-The topic he was to discuss was: how do industries improve sustainability
-using environmental and economic ways of dealing with sustainability
-Why would industries care about increasing their profits and increasing sustainability at the
-What’s a purpose of a business?
-Peter Director has a management consulting, he said the purpose of businesses was to create
and keep customers and increase shareholder value
-How would this definition lead us to become more sustainable?
-If your using a lot of resources, you’re probably not going to be sustainable as you want to be
and your also spending more money on those resources and energy
-If you cut those costs you can become more sustainable and profitable
-Cheaper prices are created from cheaper inputs and help get more customers
-That’s why businesses want to be sustainable -Some businesses have increasing shareholder value important in their corporate strategy and
an example is Dupont. Dupont is a chemical manufacturing company, their market capital was
15 billion dollars in the 80s. One of their missions is sustainable growth. In a Harvard article, the
CEO of Dupont wrote about their company strategy and about their sustainable growth. They
tried to make more of the world become their customer. The cheaper their inputs, they can sell
their products for cheaper and it will increase their shareholder value. More to make profit.
-If you’re using less inputs and less energy, you’re probably more sustainable.
-Is sustainability doesn’t benefit and industry benefits, how can we change that?
-In Sudbury Ontario, in 1883, the Canadian pacific railway is being put throughout the entire
country. When they hit Sudbury, they used sulphuric acid and started the maple rush. There’s an
environmental tragedy that happens here,
1) they mined nickel, when they need to process that nickel medal, they have to heat up
to high temperatures. They cut down all the cores on the hill, which is total deforestation
2) When nickel sulphur is burned is releases sulphur dioxide, when sulphur dioxide
touches water it become sulphur acid. When sulphur acid rains, it produces acid rain. The rocks
in Sudbury are not naturally black they are black because of acid rain.
-Negative externalities: the people paying building them mine, were not paying attention to the
environmental impacts that they were causing, so there’s a misprice. Acid rain was problem
overall in America in the 1990s due to sulphur dioxide. Ecosystem limits, there’s only so much
acid rain our ecosystem can absorb before it start to happen. When regulation goes into effect,
acid rain is no longer a problem.
-Caron dioxide emissions are a bit more difficult to deal with than acid rain. Acid rain is a
regional problem and instantaneous phenomenon compared to emissions and global warming.
-Short term planning:
-bio gas reactor where you take vegetation and some of malta and turn it into marinated gas.
Another women does a lot of waste engineering and process engineering for food
-One problem is where to put the waste
-they could put it into landfills or put it into good use. Convert it into gas and use it to run your
heaters, or sell it to another company that wants it.
-So they put a 10 year life span on this plan. And it will take 5 years to pay off the costs of the
plan. After that they will start making returns from it.
-They said they can’t wait 5 years and want it done in 2 years, because in this food industry,
there’s a lot of fear about competition from other suppliers. They are also afraid of government
regulations that might affect them. Because of this they have short term planning horizon.
-useless resources produce useless energy which is less sustainable.
-According to a case study on Dupont, they use sustainability to come to a remedy to lower
costs and become healthier.
-Back in 1994 a site is cold covered with tar and ash
-below this is a pool of waste oil and etc.
-in present day they have 925000 tons of cold tar in the ground and they have a river right
beside it and these contaminants are reaching towards. -To clean this up, Dupont said we need to clean this, it will costs lots of money, and can u help
us clean it up to support their mission
-1) you can dig it up and send it to a landfill and urn the tar, really expensive
-2) or you can heat up the subsurface by injecting 100 degree Celsius which will try to melt each
of the component in the cold tar and extract it and oxidize it / kind of expensive
-3)STAR: heat up the subsurface, supply oxygen and carbon dioxide will come out, and we pull
it out. After you have a little ash to clean up
-they always have uncertainty data and include it in their plan and model, how much is it going
to cost, how much electricity will it use?
-results: STAR is the most sustainable resolution and most green, (eco-friendly).
-Excavation will cost from 70-120 billion dollars to clean the site, thermal will cost 30-40 million
-but star will cost 15-30 million dollars
-Excavation is expensive because it requires work of a lot of excavators and need a lot of
-But STAR is using the energy that’s already in the contaminated site to destroy it. We’re using a
lot less energy that why it’s cheaper.
-STAR= self-sustaining thermal active radiation
-less cold tars= star wouldn’t work
-it takes a lot of effort to be sustainable and not all about short term planning and profitability.
-There’s a pot with hot water and when you put a frog in, it will jump out
-If you put a pot with cold water and put a frog it, it will stay in it because it is comfortable with
the temperature, and very slowly when the water heats up to the point the water starts boiling,
the frog is still in the water, because the frog doesn’t realize the water temperature is rising
because it rises gradually. Finally, the frog boils to death
-As a human race, we have a very common problem that repeats itself. We are very good at
responding to shocks and massive incidents. For example, we try to fix a massive snow storm
and we helped everyone affected. But after we just go back to living the way we always do.
-We are very poor at recognizing when the problems arise slowly and good at recognizing it
when it happens fast
-this is what happens to our environment
-if the temperature of the planet increased a lot in just one day, we will try to make a difference
and fix it
-But that’s what happened in our environment over 10-100 years, we don’t notice it until it
becomes such a significant problem
-Sustainability is alike, what we don’t want to happen over and over again is what Matt
mentioned, we have to spend great effort, costs and energy to clean it up. Because a lot of the
problem could have been prevented if we were proactive in the first place
-Usually driven by organizations
-As mangers we wants to reverse some unsustainable practices for future generations
-As frogs, we are warming up gradually.
-The Americans don’t believe about global warming and pollution, so why should they take the
lead in fixing the problem?