Air pollution significantly impacts health, economic development, clean energy, and more. Industries fueled by fossil fuels are often major contributors to air pollution, and a shift to cleaner fuels and technologies can have immense benefits for air quality.
Chemical engineer and project management professional Funmilayo Ogunsanya, aims to close the gap and enact positive change by helping the world’s most polluting companies develop energy-efficient systems that allow them to remove and treat air pollution. In doing so, she helps businesses become more sustainable while shaping the corporate sustainability landscape for a better future for all.
With an instinct to solve problems, Ogunsanya began her journey to become an engineer in her home country of Nigeria. As her passion for using scientific methods to turn ideas into reality grew, so did her success in the challenges she faced through school. This led to her graduating from the University of Lagos in Nigeria with a degree in Chemical Engineering and earning a master’s degree in Chemical Process Engineering from the University College London. While choosing this field among others is not always easy, it came naturally to Ogunsanya who wanted to specialize in an area with vast applications in several industries. Looking back, she recalls this to be one of her best decisions in life – a pivotal choice that allows her to address and solve complex problems of the past and create energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for the future.
Spending ten years in the oil and gas industry, the advanced field served as a foundation and building block of what Ogunsanya is today – resilient and resolute in her approach to solving problems. During this time, she gained valuable experience with opportunities to complete challenging projects with teams of qualified professionals, including pipeline installation projects, platform revamps, onshore facilities upgrades, and offshore platform retrofit projects. As a result she has had a front-row seat to the environmental issues faced by disadvantaged communities and the corporations unwilling to take responsibility. Despite technological advancements in the oil industry, these issues sparked an interest to focus on sustainability with a firm belief in reducing environmental pollution through efficient means.
As large companies remain at the forefront of transforming natural resources into end products, Ogunsanya points to the advantages of corporate sustainability becoming more apparent in recent years. “Beyond its ethical nuances, it is a huge economic advantage for any corporation to integrate environmentally and socially responsible practices in its business models. Records have shown that corporations that integrate sustainable methods have not only gained but have consistently maintained a competitive advantage over their competitors,” she shares.
With 25% of air emissions coming from industries, there is also a growing need for corporations to lead this transition to achieve tangible solutions. For Ogunsanya, this means looking beyond the immediate gains of a business and focusing on its long-term impact on the environment, society, and economy. Not only will this help American corporations compete with their foreign counterparts, but it will ensure minimal to zero negative impact on the environment by using available resources, reducing waste, applying sustainable materials, and building more energy-resilient systems.
Alongside waste reduction and responsible use of resources, Ogunsanya hopes to shape sustainable development one project at a time. Such plans involve air pollution abatement projects with her most recent one being the removal of air pollution from a solar panel manufacturing facility. This work contributes to real change from improving public health by lowering rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases associated with poor air quality to benefiting ecosystems and wildlife. Her focus on designing and building energy-efficient processes also includes using waste streams from incineration systems to generate steam in a facility, using less energy, and converting waste into useful products.
Through her life-impacting work in chemical engineering, Ogunsanya continues to achieve climate goals in America – starting with questioning the constant need for resources, utilizing sustainable systems, and reducing the growing energy demand. “We cannot deny how much progress has been made in ensuring sustainable growth, however, there is still more that needs to be done especially in less privileged and disadvantaged regions. It is a long journey, but with each step, we will move closer to achieving sustainable growth,” she adds.
Melissa Moraes is a freelance writer covering startups, socially responsible brands, and the newest trends in the world around us. Based in South Florida, she enjoys sunny beach days and motorcycle rides in her spare time.
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