Group of U.B. students were thinking about telecommuting before coronavirus hit

Local News

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Inside a classroom on U.B. North’s campus, who would have thought what a group of students was working on would become a necessity.

Daniel Lussier, who graduated this spring, was part of that team. He took the carbon reduction challenge course at school. His team’s task was to create a proposal for Curbell Inc., an Orchard Park based manufacturer, to reduce its carbon footprint.

“All the low hanging fruit was basically gone,” Lussier noted.

As his team got to work, their initial plan included composting and reducing temperature set-points. Then, they developed another idea: telecommuting, or having employees work from home.

“As the coronavirus hit, that’s when it made it a little more difficult, but it also gave new opportunities because it showed businesses that you’re able to telecommute.

Typically, about 125 people work in Curbell’s corporate office, according to Director of Safety and Environmental Affairs Mark Shriver. On Thursday, there were seven cars in the parking lot.

“Their team brought in these ideas. We were working with them. And they made sense,” Shriver said. “They made it easy for us to implement some of that right now.”

U.B.’s carbon footprint reduction challenge class is a capstone inspired by a similar course at Georgia Tech. At the heart of it is decreasing emissions and fighting climate change, according to Ryan McPherson, U.B.’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

“It’s the real world,” McPherson said. “They adapted incredibly well.”

“Although COVID happened, it gave us new opportunities,” Lussier said. “It allowed new doors to open.

“It was a really exciting experience.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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