Helping Businesses Make More Money With Positive Environmental Choices

Nov 11, 2014

Chris Vizzini of Progressive Waste Management, along with Liz Shephard from LifeCity, looking through the dumpsters at Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries to assess waste.
Credit Eve Abrams / WWNO

Life City enables city governments and regional economic development organizations to spur economic growth through social and environmental impact. They help make businesses more socially and environmentally impactful while also earning more revenue.

Let me introduce you to a business owner.

“My name Renee Landrieu. I’m the owner of Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries.”

Picture huge piles of sand and gravel. Also, those big trucks with revolving drums.

“What we’re producing is a commodity, and it’s driven by cost and pricing,” says Landrieu. “Everybody wants the cheapest price available. In order to be the cheapest, we have to look for ways to pinch pennies because when you’re doing a high volume business, every penny adds up.”

So to save those pennies, Landrieu decided to make her business leaner by also making it greener.

“I’m Liz Shephard, I run LifeCity. We help make social and environmental impact profitable for business.

Landrieu hired LifeCity, a company which claims any business can become environmentally responsible. The first step is figuring out where the business is wasting resources.

“So we’re checking out this bin to see what they can recycle,” says Shephard. “And we’re looking through it. There’s lots of fast food bags with aluminum that can be recycled…”

A cement truck at the company filling up with water.
Credit Eve Abrams / WWNO

Shephard lifts the lid on a trashcan and peers inside.

“Just from looking from the top of container, you can see about 40 percent of just what’s on top is recyclable. So we can assume — without dumping this trashcan on the ground — that probably about 40 percent throughout is recyclable,” says Chris Vizzini, who works with Progressive Waste Management, one of LifeCity’s partners.

Vizzini says if Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries can start recycling they can reduce their costs.

“A big part of that reduction in cost comes from us not having to spend money at a landfill, dumping it.”

Because things like plastics, cardboard, aluminum and paper can be removed from the trash and sold to commodities dealers, instead of paying to dump their garbage, Landrieu Concrete can get money for their garbage.

“So it has more value, therefore they don’t charge as much, per se,” says Shephard. That “saves everybody some money, and keeps them out of landfills, and that’s a good thing.”

Progressive Waste Management is just one of the organizations LifeCity works with. Each organization offers a different expertise in improving environmental impact.

“One thing that makes LifeCity unique is we’re collaborative consultants,” says Shephard. “We provide a one-stop-shop and a group technical assistant team.”

So a business doesn’t have to worry about managing and coordinating a bunch of different technical experts. LifeCity does that for them.

Jessica Nehrbass works with LifeCity’s clients. She analyzes their business practices and looks for ways to increase their social and environmental impact.

“When you run a business it’s things like this that you don’t have the time to do every day,” she says. “They need help stepping away from the business to work on the business. Because it’s hard to work on the business when you work in the business.”

Today, at Landrieu Concrete, Nehrbass is analyzing how much water the company uses by filing a bucket and timing how long it takes.

“What we’re doing is a water test to help them measure their water consumption for each of their individual tasks that happen during the operations,” she says.

LifeCity then calculates how Landrieu Concrete can use, pay for, and waste less water, by doing things like building a rain catchment system or replacing old nozzles. Renee Landrieu, the owner of Landrieu Concrete, is thrilled.

“Just going through the initial assessment opened our eyes about a lot of things we weren’t paying attention to in manufacturing,” she says. “Areas you can say we weren’t even thinking about, they’ve really brought attention to — such as water, which is huge.”

Hopefully, with LifeCity’s help, the bills and the runoff won’t be.