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A diverse team of scientists from UB and leaders from Clean Production Action and Niagara Share will be working with industry and community leaders to create more inclusive approaches to science, technology and civic entrepreneurship.
Our goal is to positively influence industrial development in ways that support:
- green material innovation
- clean production
- fair labor
- and empowerment of more people.
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Designing for Better Health
CoRE works from the premise that the health and vitality of industrial communities is essential to economic progress and advancement of a clean energy economy. As we think about the importance of industrial production in our region, and learn from our partners working to redefine the footprint of manufacturing, we will develop new ways to design for health at the front of material and industrial innovation. Designing for health includes everything from safer material use to clean production to individual worker safety to education and poverty levels in the surrounding community. Addressing all of these issues simultaneously is the key to a successful regenerative economy that works towards:
- New factories that also make the surrounding air and water cleaner
- New manufacturing jobs that also improve worker health
- New technology that also reduces the reliance on toxic materials
Closing the Poverty Gap — Together
Improving the socio-economic conditions in our industrial communities needs to be aligned with closing the gap between those currently living in poverty and those who are not.
Improving the quality of life for our most vulnerable neighbors will take a dedicated, holistic approach that explores new types of working partnerships across manufacturers, community organizations and other key stakeholders. Through CoRE--we will work to co-create solutions that address inclusivity and racism. Widespread adoption of new ideas and enduring change will be dependent on our ability to re-position science and technology in a way that allows empowerment and leadership opportunities for more people on the frontline of industrialization.
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Specific Areas of Focus
To build a regenerative economy for the solar industry, we will focus on the following areas:
Research and Inventory Current Practices
- Inventory the solar industry’s chemical footprint with a focus on toxic materials, leveraging green chemistry and chemical management tools like the Chemical Footprint Project and the Green Screen for Safer Chemicals (our team members developed these tools in collaboration with Apple, HP, Seagate and other leaders in the electronics sector)
- Visualize the entire lifecycle footprint of solar panels — from manufacturing and use through decommissioning and recycling — as well as the socio-economic conditions of industrial communities
- Explore the impact of solar panel manufacturing on worker health, safety and morale, with a focus on studying the root cause (rather than simply looking at symptoms)
- Research and publicize current best practices in clean production and green chemistry across similar industries
- Review current production capabilities and skillsets to determine requirements for workforce training and development
Strengthen and Accelerate Solar Production through Material Innovation
- Improve solar panel performance, including extended lifetimes, increased efficiencies and lower costs
- Develop new material solutions that promote regenerative manufacturing practices, make supply chains “green” and improve the chemical footprint
- Identify earth-friendly materials for the substitution of solvents, etchants and the toxic and scarce materials used in production
- Conduct data-driven research that includes human and environmental health factors in the scientific process of designing alternate materials — a novel approach
- Implement new material discovery programs that better connect academic research and development programs to industry and community needs
Promote Civic Entrepreneurship
- Find new pathways for people to move from the frontline of impact to the frontline of change (for example, forward-thinking job development programs that prepare people for emerging trends like automation)
- Design cross-sector civic entrepreneurial leadership models that bring together a university’s intellectual capital and community organizations’ hands-on experience to advance community health and resilience
- Co-create new solutions across industry and community change agents, inclusive of socially minded programs important to industrial communities (such as “returning citizens” programs and new approaches to expanding diversity)
- Provide all stakeholders with tools to understand and analyze new technologies, the inherent risks and cost-benefits involved, and the best methods for adopting these new methods and approaches
- Highlight the value of sustainability-focused solutions (such as green roofs) that benefit both communities and industries
- Model the new approach of inclusive decision-making processes so that others may follow it
Improve Worker and Community Wellbeing and Morale
- Reduce the use of toxic chemicals to limit the adverse affects of materials on workers’ health, while promoting stricter protocols and protective equipment
- Develop new partnerships between UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and workforce development programs to build modulated training programs that broaden skillsets offered, while preparing workers for the changes that will emerge in their industry
- Develop new partnerships between community change agents and industry, working together on human-centric science and technology programs that improve social, ecological and economic conditions in the community
- Lower the carbon footprint and the chemical footprint for neighborhoods and communities that are affected by solar panel production
- Create recuperation and recycling programs to recapture materials, create a circular economy and lessen the impact on landfills
Provide Ongoing Education and Training
- Identify and share the impactful tools needed to understand and analyze technologies, the inherent risks and cost-benefits involved, and the best methods for adopting new approaches
- Develop a web-based platform that incorporates materials innovation, business strategies and socioeconomic data — and make this information more accessible to industry users and industrial communities
- Create and sustain an accessible database and knowledge infrastructure using data-driven science, predictive analytics and visualization of complex data sets
- Expand GreenScreen training and Chemical Footprint Project training for industry and community leaders
- Increase industry and community participation in the MDI Summer Institute to build leadership capacity and expedite new solutions
- Counter disinformation and promote the public’s trust in science (including climate change) by developing more effective science communication programs, and encouraging stakeholders to make fact-based decisions
- Drive development and market support for new green procurement specifications of solar panels from major purchasing institutions and investors
- Disseminate lessons learned from this pilot study in Buffalo-Niagara to advance new approaches to building partnerships among universities, communities, the private sector and government agencies
AN ACCELERATED APPROACH
By bringing everyone together and using sophisticated visualization of complex data sets to quickly model different outcomes, we hope to influence the solar industry within a few years, rather than taking a traditional, incremental approach that often requires decades to see real change.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
We are at the beginning of the world’s fourth industrial revolution, according to the World Economic Forum. At CoRE, our goal is to help industrial communities be part of this transformational change, and take advantage of all of the benefits, right from the start.