CT Sustainable Business Council member Lourerio Engineering serves clients in aerospace, industrial, manufacturing, and government and helps companies develop sustainable approaches to facility operations while generating economic savings and benefits.
I recently sat down with Holly Schipper, Senior Scientist in Environmental Health and Safety, and Taryn Murasso, Senior Engineer at Loureiro Engineering, to learn about what attracted them to their career path and what it’s like to help companies with their environmental compliance, health, and safety.
Why did you choose this career path?
Holly: My interest in environmental health and safety regulatory compliance began in graduate school, studying Material Sciences with a concentration in sustainable polymer chemistry. My courses were centered around sustainable chemistry, chemical processing, and how to manufacture and analyze greener materials. Additionally, I received a certification for completing a one-year course on Green Chemistry and Chemical Stewardship through the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. I began to learn how industries invest and incorporate sustainability into their business models, and I was exposed to environmental compliance and health and safety regulations through my studies. I wanted to help businesses achieve their goals and create a safer workplace for their employees, as well as a safer environment. Once I started this career path, I knew it was perfect for me. Every day I am rewarded with the satisfaction that I am helping clients to educate themselves, improve their business strategies for environmental compliance, and ensure safety in the workplace. Additionally, this career allows me to educate myself continuously. My managers are extremely supportive of me taking professional development courses (I just completed a Clean Air Compliance Manager certification course!), which not only expands my skill set to offer clients better services but allows me to explore more specific topics that I am passionate about.
Taryn: I was always passionate about the environment ever since I was young. I remember learning about climate change in school as a child and asking myself – Why is this happening? Can it be reversed? How can I educate myself and others?
I excelled in math and science in school and have always loved a good challenge, so I chose to study environmental engineering in college. There are so many different routes you can take with an engineering degree, which is something that I have learned since graduating.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Holly: Almost every day is different for me, which I love! Some days I travel to client sites and provide hands-on assistance in different categories of environmental health and safety compliance. Often these jobs are specific – I may go on-site for one day and provide personal air monitoring/sampling to test employees for exposure to different harmful chemicals or analytes – and sometimes these jobs are more set in a routine, such as updating the clients’ environmental programs in compliance with the EPA or DEEP, and updating the client’s health and safety protocols in compliance with OSHA. On other days, I am in the office analyzing data, working through complex calculations, and typing up reports that will eventually be sent to the client or submitted to governing agencies.
Taryn: One of my favorite things about my job is that I work on different projects at different sites every day. When I am not in the office, I am on-site working with clients directly, providing them with support on various needs revolving around environmental health, safety, and compliance. In many cases, I will work with clients to work towards developing and implementing sustainable approaches to compliance that are unique to their facility. Being able to physically see and experience how facilities in different industries operate is super interesting.
What do you find exciting about the field?
Holly: I am extremely passionate about educating others and getting involved in outreach for Loureiro. I am constantly attending workshops, conferences, and career fairs. I was fortunate enough to attend an event called STEMFems this year, where I taught middle schoolers the fundamentals of wastewater engineering and environmental health and safety through an activity that allowed the students to create their wastewater systems. I love working with students and inspiring them to see the beauty of how science can help to create a safer world and encouraging them to pursue careers that they are passionate about and that will challenge them!
Taryn: It has been exciting to become part of communities like the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council, where people of all ages, backgrounds, and career fields come together under the common value of sustainability and environmental conservation. It has been a great space for new ideas and perspectives on various sustainability-related topics to be exchanged and explored.
Another exciting thing about the environmental consulting field is being presented with opportunities to work with some of the larger international manufacturing companies that have a major influence on the economy and on the environment. The opportunity to assist these types of companies with developing and implementing more sustainable processes and solutions to problems is rewarding in that it can have a significant overall impact on the environment.
What sustainability-related trends do you see with the companies you work with?
Holly: A lot of companies that I work with are working towards meeting internal sustainability goals. Not only do my clients comply with regulations set forth by governing agencies, but they also comply with internal requirements to become more sustainable and reach certain goals in the future. For example, I have seen a trend recently amongst my clients in investing in strategies or equipment, such as evaporators, to reduce the amount of waste generated through different manufacturing processes. This sustainability effort not only minimizes waste created through a process but it reduces the cost for shipping waste off-site. Sustainability goals drive companies towards creating a greener environment, a safer workplace, and reducing the overall cost for production. Additionally, more and more companies are looking at recycling their waste and using vendors that convert waste to energy.
Taryn: The companies that I have worked with are all so different, from plating companies to aerospace, to concrete manufacturing. One thing I have started to see more is as new people are hired into the EHS roles at these facilities, there is more inclination towards changing the current system. Implementing better systems for tracking compliance, ensuring all employees receive adequate training, etc.
Another thing I have seen with some of the larger firms is they are implementing many more company-wide sustainability initiatives.
Do you have any exciting projects going on you’d like to share?
Holly: I work with a company undergoing a large-scale demolition project. This type of project is extremely complex and exciting, requiring numerous different engineering groups to come together and work towards one set outcome. Demolition projects involve civil, structural, chemical, environmental, and manufacturing engineering groups, for example. From an environmental health and safety compliance position, I can work with these groups on jobs such as ensuring safety precautions are taken, sampling for different analytes during the remediation process, and permitting requirements necessary to complete the job.
Taryn: I am working with the wastewater engineering team in the planning stages of one of the largest wastewater treatment design projects that Loureiro has taken on. The objective of this project is to redesign their current treatment system to allow for expansion of production. We are looking into ways to reduce the amount of waste being treated; for example, increasing the number of times the same batch of water goes through a process before it is spent and needs to be discharged for treatment.
I am also working on an Air Model project for the same client, where we are working on quantifying and assessing the emissions from the entire facility, from point of generation to point of emission, to ensure compliance with regulatory limits in place to prevent pollution to the surrounding environment.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the environmental health and safety and compliance industry?
Holly: Always advocate for yourself and your interests. If there is a topic that piques your interest, pursue it! Do research, and find individuals open to answering questions, such as teachers, professors, graduate students, alumni, and people working in the field. This can help to build confidence. My second tip is for college students looking into this industry/field. There are so many opportunities at universities to engage in topics such as environmental compliance, health and safety, and sustainability. Many colleges offer guest speakers, lectures, events and clubs to engage students in these topics as they become more popular. Find schools that have extensive sustainability plans and goals and get involved.
UCONN has a “STEAM” tree which involves a multidisciplinary team of students and professors that come together to create an artistic clean energy system. These types of projects go on at so many campuses, and this can help you expand your knowledge of the subject matter and build networking relationships.
Taryn: One piece of advice I have would be don’t be afraid to be innovative and share new ideas. By hiring younger employees who are fresh out of college and new to the field, companies are presented with new perspectives and ideas that could have a great influence on the future of the company and on the industry itself. For many companies in this field, it is critical to take those steps to reassess processes and implement change in the workplace based on new ideas and perspectives.
Going into consulting straight out of college, although one of the best career decisions I have made, comes with its challenges. As a consultant, you are expected to know the answers to questions and how to accommodate and assist with the needs of your clientele. It can feel like a lot of pressure when you are still learning and new to the field. My advice in the beginning would be to be patient and focus on learning. Take advantage of this time to form relationships and learn how to interact with different types of clients; the knowledge about the field and answers to the more technical questions will come with time.