Fall 2008 Student Projects


Pragmatic Construction, LLC

Pragmatic Construction is a Milwaukee-based company committed to using and producing sustainable residential building products and methods. The entrepreneurial company has adopted a triple bottom line business model for people, planet and profit. Although in business for only 3 years, Pragmatic Construction has already received significant recognition for their award-winning homes and innovative business ideas. In 2006, the company won the Governors business plan competition for their proposal to pursue sustainable alternatives in the building industry.

Wisconsin DNR Green Tier EMS Plan

Pragmatic Construction will be accepted in the Wisconsin DNR Green Tier program in the Fall of 2008. One of the requirements of the program is to develop an Environmental Management System (EMS) that either complies with ISO 14001, or is deemed to be functionally equivalent (guidance from the department is available on developing a functionally equivalent EMS). The student project would involve developing recommendations on how to develop an EMS for Pragmatic Construction, including the research and review necessary to tailor a plan for a residential green construction company.

Deconstruction Projects

Pragmatic Construction recently launched a deconstruction service, primarily for residential markets. Demolishing a home means completely destroying it, using heavy machinery to knock down and then crush it, condensing the materials as much as possible for ease of transport to the landfill. Not only does this method clog the landfills and shorten their life, it can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in landfill fees while depriving consumers of a wealth of quality products and materials. Deconstructing a home means carefully dismantling it, using hand tools to take it apart board by board, beam by beam. All usable materials are then sorted and distributed for donation. As much as 85 percent of a structure can usually be diverted from the landfill.

This proposed student project(s) involves exploring the opportunity to manage the salvage materials collected by the deconstruction projects in-house.

  • Conduct a competitive market analysis of existing for-profit and nonprofit salvage retail operations.
  • Define the potential market barriers and opportunities for introducing a new salvage operation.
  • Explore closed loop opportunities to use salvaged materials in Pragmatic Construction construction projects.
  • Recommend whether Pragmatic Construction should enter the salvage business and provide justification. IF entry is recommended, provide a preliminary outline of strategic next steps.

Kimberly Clark: Disposable Diaper Waste Management Options

Disposable, absorbent consumer products are widely used around the world because they deliver desirable performance, effectiveness, convenience, and value compared to alternatives. Multiple studies, comparing the environmental impact of disposable baby diapers to commercially laundered cloth diapers, consistently rate the two options as resulting in an equivalent but different environmental impact.

The solid waste management of disposable baby diapers is often raised as an environmental issue by individuals and groups concerned about our environmental future. While these products represent less than 2{13cc73ace98a1a1c72459df4609391372da874048f40eb9ad7cb1a640123a483} of the total waste going into North American landfills, there are other disposal options that could be substituted. Potential examples include composting, incineration and conversion into an energy source. In order to take advantage of these and other options, consumers will generally have to change their behaviors and practices. A simple but significant change may be separating used diapers into special bins for curbside pick up.

KCC would like a team of students to investigate alternative waste disposal options for baby diapers that could effectively remove disposable baby diapers from the landfill waste stream. What would the consumer/user of the products find attractive and what would they find objectionable about each option? In addition, develop a compelling marketing program that encourages the user of disposable baby diapers to separate diapers from other house hold waste and take responsibility for any special handling of the source separated waste in order to comply with special pickup requirements.

Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition: Toward a Viable System of Local Fair Trade

The Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition would like student input on developing an economic aggregation model that helps local community supported agriculture farms (CSA) better market and distribute their product as local fair trade and certified organic.

Final recommendations should address and incorporate the following: What are the costs/benefits of a domestic fair trade label and market for Wisconsin?

Why this is important: Demand for food that is grown in a sustainable and just way is growing by leaps and bounds. While still a small part of the overall food market, organic food sales have consistently grown by 20{13cc73ace98a1a1c72459df4609391372da874048f40eb9ad7cb1a640123a483} a year, while Fair Trade certified product sales have grown even faster. Farmers markets are booming across the nation and now we hear that “local is the new organic.” We have also just recently required that all of our farms be certified organic or be transitioning to certified organic.

The next stage is Local Fair Trade food: food consumed close to the source, grown by family farmers, with a fair price going to farmers and a fair wage and respectful working conditions for farm workers. Some farmers, farm workers and retailers have long done their best to practice Local Fair Trade.

FutureEye: Mining and Minerals Triple Bottom Line Approaches

Futureye was established in 2002 by Katherine Teh-White, who believed that a different kind of consultancy was needed to undertake the analysis, strategic planning, proactive thinking, and communications demanded by sustainable development.

Based in Melbourne, Australia, we work primarily with the largest multi-national companies in the mining and minerals sector to develop proactive organizations that will succeed in the new stakeholder era. Our proposition is that sustainable development will never be realized without people inside organizations and communities being willing to explore and apply new concepts and change the ways in which things have always been done. Eyal will be the project contact, and he is a former student.

Students would look at best and worst practice case studies of mining project operations and interview global experts in the mining and minerals sectors to develop a payoff matrix. The matrix should address the time and costs of addressing social, economic, and environmental (triple bottom line) issues, compared with the economic benefits of achieving a sustainable on-time, on-budget project approval for a mining site operation. This pay-off matrix would be used to create a business case for sustainable mining project approvals and show clients the value-add of addressing social and environmental issues up-front.

Cartridge World Madison

Cartridge World Madison is a locally owned business that strongly believes it is everyones responsibility to keep the environment green for generations to come. Our business is built on the recycling, refilling, and remanufacturing of ink and toner cartridges for home and office printers and copiers. By recycling and reusing existing cartridges we help reduce the environmental impact of millions of cartridges being thrown into landfills each year. Almost one gallon of oil is required to build a new toner cartridge. Customers of Cartridge World act responsibly by recycling their cartridges and are rewarded by saving up to 40-50{13cc73ace98a1a1c72459df4609391372da874048f40eb9ad7cb1a640123a483} over the cost of buying new cartridges.

Currently Cartridge World Madison faces the challenge of trying to making recycling and saving money easy and convenient for students. The majority of students own a printer and need new ink cartridges fairly often. We know students are going to go very far to buy new ink cartridges, especially those students in the dorms. Our current challenge is coming up with an ink cartridge drop-off/pick-up system for students. The basic idea is that a collection box/receptacle (or several) would be set up on campus, either in the dorms or at other convenient locations. Students would then drop their cartridges off in these collections boxes knowing these cartridges would then be picked up and returned at a certain time and date. We are looking for a way that would best suit students as well as make it efficient keeping in mind that Cartridge World Madison is a small but growing east side business.

UW Sports Medicine Center: Energy Efficiency Options

The UW Sports Medicine Center is a health and fitness center in Research Park on the citys west side. They have all of the traditional workout machinery and because of their large space, consume quite a bit of electricity. They are looking for a team of students to do a comprehensive analysis of other fitness centers and fitness center equipment to determine what their options are to reduce energy consumption. Options that should be investigated are the availability and cost of equipment that does not draw electricity, and availability and cost of equipment that converts the watts generated from exercising on the equipment to electricity that can be fed back into the electricity grid, thereby using peoples exercise as an energy source. Part of this project would be a cost analysis of what it would cost to convert the equipment in the fitness center, and make any changes to the fitness center so that it could draw electricity from the grid and feed power into the grid.

Plan and Coordinate the First Sustainable Businesses Council in Wisconsin DNR

Michigan, North Carolina and several other states have developed organizations that bring together businesses that are interested in sustainability throughout the state. These are called Sustainable Business Councils, Sustainable Business Networks, etc. Your task would be to work with Tom on the planning and coordination of the first meeting of businesses in the State of Wisconsin that are interested in Sustainability. This would be a large conference, held in early December in Madison. You would be responsible for planning the conference, working with Tom to secure funding (this is largely done), preparing and distributing invitations, and generally making this conference a success. Given how many people are involved in planning conferences such as these in the real world, having this experience under your belt could be a great resume builder.

Appleton Papers

Appleton uses ideas that make a difference to create product solutions through its development and use of coating formulations and applications, and specialized and secure print services. The company produces carbonless, thermal, security and performance packaging products. Appleton is headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has manufacturing operations in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts.

In effort to be recognized as an environmental leader in the paper manufacturing and converting industry, Appleton has committed to increase its use of environmentally preferable manufacturing processes and significantly reduce its carbon footprint over the next five years. To achieve our goal, Appleton is looking to change some existing processes and invest in new technology.

Fluidized Bed Boiler – WCN

  • Assess currently available models of fluidized bed (FB) boilers for large scale manufacturing process.
  • Determine availability of biofuels in Ohio.
  • Determine if and when a return on investment could be seen based on direct manufacturing costs, cost avoidance, carbon footprint impact, carbon credit needs under a proposed Cap and Trade program, sustainable marketability, etc.
  • Evaluate pros and cons of using a FB boiler vs. coal boilers and FB boilers vs. Natural gas

Recommend how to evaluate and shelve a natural and sustainable products

The Clorox Company works closely with retailers (i.e. Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, etc) to improve consumer shopping experiences resulting in overall category growth. With the growth of natural and sustainable products it has become difficult for retailers to understand what is natural or sustainable and once on-shelf how to educate shoppers on what products are natural and sustainable (including what those terms mean.)

The objective of this project is to develop a proposed set of standards that retailers can use to classify home care products (i.e. laundry detergents, dish soaps, home cleaners, etc) as natural and sustainable when making purchasing and shelving decisions. The second objective of the project is to develop a system to help shoppers identify and understand these products on the retailers shelves.

Brick & Click Localized Online Shopping Collaborative – Creating a Business Plan

Healthy Local Communities seeks to support the creation of prosperous low carbon communities by offering community development and collaboration services supporting businesses, community service organizations and citizens outfitted with game changing tools. The Greater Madison Metro and South Central Wisconsin region will serve as the pilot region.

The idea is to replicate the good qualities of Amazon by creating a means for the public to purchase goods from independent stores and small local chains in a 50 minute radius from Madison by having all store or business goods and services uploaded onto one software and server. The software is being developed by a tech institute and the team is to assume that it will be available.

Each stores inventory or services that they are willing to sell online is uploaded by the store, along with picture, description and pricing. The customer has local comparison shopping, related item prompts, memory of shopping preferences, directions to the store and shipping options. The customer is looking for some clothing, they find socks in store A at a price they are happy with, and pants a store B and a sweater in store C. It would work like all the other shopping aggregations where you see all of the related items and their prices and decide where to go.

The customer orders and the software aggregates it into one seamless purchase for the customer. The stores are notified, they print out a label with the encoded shipping information and they drop ship to the customer if this is the request by the customer; the customer could also opt to pick up the item.

In order to get this project funded we are interested in start up and operational needs and its associated cost to manage the project, meaning we need to create a business plan. Your team would work with a new start up non-profit that is forming currently called the Healthy Local Communities Initiative to assess the needs of this project. We will be looking at open source software support issues, support and resources for getting businesses ready to participate, creating a local green shipping option, staffing needs etc.