For Katie Dykes, any successful formula for Connecticut's economic competitiveness requires businesses embracing sustainability through technology and greater collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner used her appearance at CBIA and Pratt & Whitney's Nov. 22 Connecticut Sustainability Conference to advocate for the agency's 20 by 20 program.
That program sets December 2020 goals for predictability, efficiency, and transparency to strengthen DEEP's environmental regulatory and permitting processes.
"We can really accelerate our transition to a less carbon intensive future with the help from our best and brightest minds in the technology sector," Dykes told a crowd of 150 business leaders.
Dykes also mentioned how quickly the world of sustainability is changing and how critical it is to partner with manufacturers, engineers, and innovators.
"It's so important for us to be in dialogue and understand what's cutting edge, what's emerging, and where you see new opportunities," she said.
Dykes told the conference that offshore wind generation represents a major opportunity for Connecticut.
"We're in the market for up to 200 megawatts of offshore wind," Dykes said.
"Two or three years ago, if you told me that offshore wind could be a real economic opportunity for Connecticut or for the Northeast, I would have questioned your sanity."
Dykes joked how out of reach such a project was years ago, but how innovation is unlocking new opportunities.
Dykes shared the stage with Paul Faughnan, Pratt & Whitney's manufacturing technology chief, who shared examples of innovation practiced at the company's East Hartford plant.
He detailed how the jet engine manufacturer uses cryogenics, where liquid hydrogen replaces water in certain production processes.
"When moving to a liquid nitrogen system, you're using just a small amount to chill a tool," he said. "It also prevents any heat generation which normally causes the wear on the tool.
"You can now machine parts faster and keep parts clean so you don't have to wash them afterwards either."
Pratt also captures production waste materials and for potential future reuse.
"When we look at some of our exotic materials that are extremely expensive and difficult to produce, we capture all of those chips and color code them in buckets," Faughnan said.
"When a certain product comes off of a machine, all of the waste associated with that is either archived or sent back for reuse."
Dykes said the Lamont administration has also set ambitious sustainable targets for the next decade.
"As we are looking at the benefits of [the governor's] sustainability executive order, it's not just about how to leave a better planet and a better environment for all of our kids here in Connecticut, but how we can deliver more value to our taxpayers," she said.
Lamont signed another executive order in September moving the state's original 2050 deadline for a zero carbon electric grid to 2040.
"This is really going to unlock a lot of opportunities for energy efficiency and for energy storage," Dykes said.
"I know our manufacturing sector can be a participant and also a beneficiary."
Overhauling the permitting process is a main theme in DEEP's 20 by 20 program.
According to one of the program's goals, "Well-crafted regulations can eliminate the need for certain permits. DEEP's Air Bureau has eight categories of activities covered by 'permit-by-rule,' that is, subject to requirements spelled out in regulation rather than a permit."
"Our goal as regulators is to help animate markets that help unlock value in the regulatory framework that we’re putting forward," Dykes said.