Dave Gardner's expertise in pollution prevention recently took him around the world - as the only U.S. representative at a conference on "clean technology" in India.
As Chair of Industrial Control Technologies at Owens Community College, Gardner teaches environmental management technology courses at the College. He has developed a special pollution prevention course for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
It was material from that unique course that Gardner presented to 70-80 Indian business professionals, industry managers and CEOs from textile, metals and other industries, leaving them with practical information to establish a pollution prevention library.
A build-up of industrial and production facilities is underway in India and ideally they should design the pollutant streams out of them from the start, he said.
"The goal was to get them thinking in terms of pollution prevention - to get the pollution out of their systems when they create them and not later," Gardner explained. "I tried to show them you can make more money and help the environment with these pollution prevention measures. And as managers, how they can put these into practice."
Gardner's workshops - presented in the cities of Calcutta and Bhubaneswar - were organized by the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership. He shared the podium with the Secretary General of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, the chair of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board and officials from the All-India Institute of Health and Hygiene.
His workshops were specifically titled: Introduction to Pollution Prevention Methodologies, Team Development and Education, and Pollution Prevention Case Studies.
Gardner also said he witnessed "deplorable health and environmental safety conditions" that included waterways filled with trash and sewage, limited garbage collection and automobiles with excessive fuel emissions.
"They know they have to work to turn things around," he said.
This international opportunity was not only a benefit for the Indian people, but also for Gardner's classes.
"I can bring back to Owens students my first-hand experiences and real-world illustrations of what's going on in society around the world - and what they can do about it," he said. "Students taking ENV 101 or 102 (Introduction to Environmental Problems) definitely are in for an eye-opening presentation."
Back on this side of the globe, his students already have been working locally to make a difference, using methods outlined in the pollution prevention course. A class project this spring helped save the environment and saved local companies nearly $10,000 annually.
"These shops were already very clean - one actually had won a governor's pollution prevention award - and yet the students still found further areas for increased efficiency," Gardner explained.
For instance, one company is saving $5,200 and 3 million gallons per year of virgin acid by reusing an effluent acid stream.
For another assessment, the students recommended moving from solvent-based paint to water-based paint. This has the potential to eliminate 10 drums of chrome contaminated rags, saving $989 yearly, and eliminating 1,760 gallons of reducer per year, costing more than $3,800.
A simple engineering fix in another assessment will eliminate the loss of 5,343 pounds of zinc annually for a cost savings of $3,323 per year.
The success of the projects, and the positive community response, even propelled Gardner to write a letter to colleagues at other community colleges encouraging them to undertake such a project because of the benefits for both sides.
"I think this really demonstrates the dramatic impact that community college students can have on industrial partners," Gardner said.
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