By Shannon Sigafoos

A hearing of the bipartisan state Senate Economy, Business, and Jobs Caucus brought state Sens. Lisa Boscola (D-18th District) and Bob Mensch (R-24th District) to Lafayette Oct. 13 to discuss sustainable business practices across the commonwealth.

Expert testifiers from some of the Lehigh Valley’s largest employers—who gave recommendations on how the state government can further assist in creating a sustainable business environment—joined them in Farinon Center’s Marlo Room.

John Kincaid speaks at podium

Prof. John Kincaid offering opening remarks at the State Senate EBJ Caucus Hearing.

Those panelists included Stephanie Raymond, president, PPL Electric Utilities; Brenden Heck, vice president, environmental, social, and governance, UGI Corp.; Frank Untermeyer, director, supply chain management, Martin Guitar; Peter Ruggiero, chief operating officer, Crayola; Catie Kawchak, director, federal and state relations, Volvo Group; Richard Master, CEO, MCS Industries Inc.; Lorraine Faccenda, plant manager, LafargeHolcim; and Patrick Witmer, corporate vice president, corporate affairs and communications, B. Braun Medical Inc.

With students, faculty, and the greater Lafayette community serving as active participants in sustainability programs and outreach efforts—and with sustainability as one of the core institutional values—the institution was eager to host and to hear what local businesses are doing to address carbon emissions, future technologies, and workforce development.

“Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. It’s a way of life for most companies. We have all seen the growing importance of environmental, social, and governance practices to our larger, publicly traded companies. But sustainability, sustainability practices and management, manufacturing, and product design are critical to the competitiveness of smaller and medium-sized companies,” Boscola told the assembled audience before the first panelists spoke. “A proactive approach to sustainability is not just good for business. It’s good for employees and vibrant communities. Higher quality businesses that can be environmentally friendly, and employee friendly, will continue to thrive.”

Panelist highlights included Raymond informing the senators that PPL’s clean energy strategy is a corporate-wide effort, with a goal to have net zero emissions by 2050; Heck pointing out that UGI actually encourages customers to use less, not more, of its product; and Kawchak announcing that an $84 million investment in Mack Trucks’ Lehigh Valley operations facility allowed the team to prepare for the future, and that it is now using 100% renewable energy.

“The EBJ hearing was an important opportunity for local businesses to showcase their sustainability efforts and give legislators ideas for legislation that might facilitate further sustainability,” said John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service, who provided welcoming remarks at the caucus. “One important outcome of the hearing was to demonstrate that sustainability can be good for profits as well as the environment.”

Brenden Heck, vice president, environmental, social, and governance, UGI Corp, at the State Senate EBJ Caucus Hearing

Brenden Heck, vice president, environmental, social, and governance, UGI Corp., listens intently at the State Senate EBJ Caucus hearing on Oct. 13, 2021.

“I thought the process was fantastic. Each panelist and senator had the opportunity to discuss their unique perspectives as well as sustainability challenges and opportunities. The senators were keen to learn about each of the businesses and be a dedicated partner for sustainable growth,” said Heck. “As an organization that employs roughly 2,000 people in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are dedicated to doing our part to safely, reliably, affordably, and sustainably deliver energy products and services.”

President Nicole Farmer Hurd closed the proceedings by reminding all involved of the strength of a shared commitment to sustainable practices.

“I’ve been listening very intently and seeing your care and concern for our community radiating from you, and thinking about what Lafayette means to this community—and thinking about those things as not separate, but together,” said Hurd. “Innovation can come from being in the room with these incredible businesses. I’m very excited by what we can accomplish together.” 

Sustainability at Lafayette

Working Toward a Low-Carbon Future

Lafayette’s campus operates as a living laboratory, providing students the opportunity to conduct research and explore and test new models of sustainable systems. Through class projects and collaborative work with faculty members, students make significant contributions to advancing sustainability at the College.

Learn more
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