Gerald Lee | Research Program

Biographical Statement

Gerald Lee is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine, under the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. He is studying Biomedical Engineering with interests in developing techology to better the health and safety of local communities, and discussing the ethics inside and outside the laboratory. 

Contact Info


Linked In: Gerald Lee


Research Description

Gerald is an undergraduate researcher at the University of California, Irvine. In the summer of 2020, Gerald participated in the UCI Anthropology 25A, Environmental injustice course. He assisted in developing three case studies based around the Orange County area, and now helps the Fall 2020 Anthro25A class in their use of resources. 

His research focuses on the business and economic possibilities of climate change adaptation and green transition, including the creation of new green jobs and new technologies by analyzing various government plans and observing pre-exsisting jobs. 

The outcomes of his research include various presentations relating to green jobs, career, and business opportunities that are opening up through greening initiatives. This includes examining the benefits that come with greening, and the considerable costs that may result from enacting the changes. Factors that some environmentalists forget to consider include building costs, production and resource gathering costs, and energy consumption costs. This complexity is what Gerald will investigate by accounting for results after production, the cost and resources needed to make production happen, and looking for options that create a more genuinely sustainable development pathway. 

Green Jobs, Technologies and Businesses

Green Job Sectors
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Green Job Sector: Community Development

Green Job Sector: Community Development

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Green community development is an exciting and growing job sector.  Professionals working in this sector need to think holistically about all the components of a community and how they relate.  They also need the skills to identify long term goals and the steps needed to get there, enrolling diverse stakeholders along the way.

Aspen, Colorado

Green Job Sector: Community Development Aspen, Colorado

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Although the climate may be cold and snowy, that did not stop Aspen, Colorado, to move to go clean. Starting 2004, Aspen CO desired to run 100% electricity from renewable resources by 2015, using hydroelectric projects and power purchase contracts. By 2014 three-fourths of Aspen’s electricity was sourced from renewables. Their goal was hit in August of 2015, becoming the third US city to go fully renewable, after Burlington VT and Greensburg KS.

Currently, Aspen runs an energy supply that is 46% hydroelectric from the Ruedi Dam and Maroon Creek Hydroelectric facility, 53% of wind power, and the rest from solar to heat water and reduce carbon footprint by estimated 9,215,000 pounds. In addition, it uses 1% landfill gas to finish off the 100% mark.

Aspen Electric is a municipal utility serving Aspen, with the residential rates being one of the lowest in CO being only about $81 for 700 kWh (typical for a month’s worth)  and upgrades to a Nebraska wind farm drops utility’s costs even lower, saving 15% annually or $475,000.

In terms of job opportunities, climate is a necessary factor to consider. Since Colorado is a place with snow, this means that the environment is cold, windy, and likely cloudy. Thus the tall task is to create a mode of energy transfer that does not freeze over due to water potentially freezing onto equipment. In Aspen, their solution is to take the wind power from Nebraska, owning a section of wind turbines in a different environment more suited for energy generation. Again, this decision was not just about technology such as water repellent to make wind turbines work in Colorado; it is also about understanding how to be cost efficient. The money should be spent smart, not spend on technology just for the sake of it. This ability to think outside the box to make sure that money is not wasted is an important skill for all jobs to take on, and something that should be considered when developing communities. 

There are various graduate programs that can help prepare you for these kinds of tasks. Penn State has a Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems Masters of Professional Studies (MPS) program, which will give you a better understanding of project development and energy economics. Similar programs are also offered by USC Viterbi, Georgia Tech, and UCI.

Read more about Aspen, Colorado:

Energy News Network

John Kaweske

City of Aspen, CO

Wind, City of Aspen, CO


Green Job Sector: Community Development Architecture

Green Job Sector: Community Development Architecture

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

To build the wonderful green cities, and especially in Greensburg, the cities need to hire what are known as Green Architects. Also known as Sustainable Architects or Green Planners, their job is to make building designs that will minimize health hazards to the environment and to human life. There are many beautiful designs already in the world today, not just in Greensburg. UCI even has some LEED Platinum Buildings. (UCI Sustainability)

This job requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. It is encouraged to aim for a Master’s in Architecture for higher positions. Technical skills required include use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, while soft skills include excellent organization and a creative mindset. In addition to these requirements, U.S. States usually require a license specific to the state. Remember to check the state requirements. 

Finally, obtainment of the Green Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) or certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate will be required. This can be achieved by participating in LEED-registered projects/industry, and/or completed LEED training and exam (

Architecture organizations such as Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and USGBC are great places to begin looking for opportunities to get involved in Green Architecture. In addition, UCI Sustainability offers some Student Opportunities


Green Job Sector: Vehicle Technology

Green Job Sector: Vehicle Technology

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

One of the many aspects of clean energy involves the transportation of the future: Electric Vehicles (EV). Vehicle Technologies such as EVs will help reduce emissions and save millions of dollars in the long run, and the options for expanding this sector are endless. These professional tasks do not just involve designing and wiring, but also incorporate costs and legal matters in regards to safety and obtaining rarer materials. Thus this sector requires many different skill sets and mentalities to ensure the most effective and clean route is created and executed.

Li Compared to NiMH

Green Job Sector: Vehicle Technology Lithium-Ion Battery

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and all-electric vehicles (EV) can feature different batteries, inclusive of Lithium-Ion, Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lead-Acid, and Ultracapacitor batteries. Although there are many options for different batteries, one of the most popular battery by far is Lithium-Ion. Used in computers, phones, cars, electric skateboards, power tools, this battery is highly reliable and so far one of the most well developed types of battery. 

Lithium-Ion Batteries (LIBs) are used the most often in PHEVs and HEVs for their high energy per unit mass. Toyota began to incorporate LIBs starting as early as in the 2016 Gen 4 Prius (interchanging it with NiMH batteries at times), and the 2017 Prius Prime specifically runs a 5 LIB stack, each with an 8.8kWh Li-Ion Battery for the plug in hybrid. To see a full breakdown of the battery, see Weber State University Professor Kelly and his amazing YouTube videos. These are developed to produce high efficiency and have a low self-discharge. In addition most of the components of the LIBs can be recycled, although at a relatively high cost. Another high cost is the amount of Lithium required to create each cell, and how much it costs to mine out the resources needed to produce these in the first place. 

Research is still ongoing to see how to improve longevity of the batteries and control the temperature of the LIBs, usually using a liquid cooling system similar to some computers. Tesla and GM use these systems to regulate the temperature, especially since the life of the LIB is highly dependent on thermal management. (Torque News). A lot of jobs in this field also turn attention towards safety, where lithium batteries are notorious for presenting fire and explosion hazards when physically damaged or improperly charged or used. Although these accidents are not common, problems such as short circuiting and improper regulation of environmental factors can lead to big problems. Jobs relating to regulating and designing regulations surrounding these factors are important to consider in the fields of technology such as these. 

Battery Materials Engineer, Field Application Engineers, and Resource Project Managers are a few jobs offered in the fields of Lithium Ion Batteries and its applications. A recommendation for job opportunities is to input a keyword of what you would like to work on, for example “Lithium Ion Battery”. Most likely, jobs will come up that are related to specifically that technology. Here is an example of this search from Zip Recruiter.

Read more about Lithium-Ion Batteries:

Alternate Fuels Data Center

Automotive Li-Ion Batteries: Current Status and Future Perspectives

Nissan EV Li-Ion Battery


OSHA Li Battery Safety


Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Green Job Sector: Vehicle Technology Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Hydrogen fuel is an energy source that is becoming more viable by the day. Designed to be lighter in weight and more compact than lithium battery packs, and twice as efficient as gasoline, layers of hydrogen fuel cells were estimated in 2015 to generate around 70 miles per kilogram of fuel (equivalent to roughly 70 miles per gallon). There are no harmful COx and NOx emissions that are produced, only water vapor and distilled water, which makes this system one hundred percent clean energy. And the fuel is arguably more safe than using gasoline, since hydrogen is the lightest element (14x lighter than air) and its vapors do not linger for long, unlike gasoline which will pool and have 3 to 4 times the explosive power of flammable hydrogen.

However, although the hydrogen fuel cells sound like one of the favorable efficient technologies out there, it comes at a considerable cost. Platinum is the most expensive part of this system, and is the most important part of the fuel cell since it acts as the catalyst for splitting the hydrogen molecules for the fuel-cell to work. In addition to this, the hydrogen fuel needs to be created through electrolysis from water, usually requiring a big processing plant (similar to those used in the oil industry) to create this free hydrogen, then compress and store chilled. The energy needed to power these plants, in addition to needing to mine out the platinum and build the cells, will add up costs and energy. 

Jobs in this field will need to be diligent about the cost it takes to build each cell, as well as the costs to produce the hydrogen fuel itself. Research is currently in progress to increase the efficiency of the fuel-cell system, looking for ways to increase longevity of the charge and keep it cost effective. Many fields in chemistry will benefit from research in this area, as well as other engineers to help build the cars that will use said hydrogen fuel. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ( have options and other resources for careers in energy, as well as career map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. BMW also has opportunities to work as an Intern for the BMW Technology Office in Sustainable Mobility. The team works on electronic components, stationary battery storage, and other technologies based around the EV ecosystem.

Read more about Hydrogen fuel-cells:




Hydrogen Fuel Station

Green Job Sector: Vehicle Technology California's Electric Future

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, in June 2020 announced the first New Zero-Emission Truck program. By 2045, every new truck sold in California must be zero emission based, including Class 4-8 and Class 2B trucks. Estimated to have high health benefits, reduce 17 million metric tons of CO2, and reduce pollution and noise from neighborhoods, this move is an encouragement to transfer to more sustainable energies in our transport of goods and people. In addition to this, Governor Newsom in September 2020 announced that California will ban the sale of new gas cars and trucks by 2035, while also signing an order to build 200 hydrogen fueling stations and 250,000 electric vehicle chargers to support this demand. 

The benefits to making such a drastic change over 15-25 years includes the reduction of a lot of carcinogenic diesel soot and smog-causing pollution, and an estimated $9 million saved in health benefits. This however comes at the construction costs and safety of many workers, especially since these changes will be rolled out with the fear of COVID-19 still prevalent.

A factor that many construction design experts need to consider is in regards to environmental disasters, for example earthquakes in California. The potential hazard that earthquakes -- especially earthquakes that are higher in magnitude -- can pose to the stability of these hydrogen stations and pipelines can be a bigger threat than many foresee, requiring proper building codes and working seismic shut off valves to mitigate a combo disaster. There are many opportunities to improve safety equipment and designs that are reliable and keep consumers safe. 

Read more about California’s move to go electric:

NPR 2035 Car Ban

NPR 2045 Truck Program


The Detroit News



Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry

Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

As the machines and technology industry grow more green, there becomes a point in time where we require different materials or need to find a more sustainable source to fuel and consume. Green Chemistry attacks issues at the molecular level, designed to reduce hazards such as pollution from entering the environment in the first place. 

As defined by the U.S. Environmental Prevention Agency (EPA) there are 12 main principles to Green Chemistry. 

  1. Prevent Waste.

  2. Maximize Atom Economy.

  3. Design Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses.

  4. Design Safer Chemicals and Products.

  5. Use Safer Solvents and Reaction Conditions.

  6. Increase Energy Efficiency.

  7. Use Renewable Feedstocks.

  8. Avoid Chemical Derivatives. 

  9. Use Catalysts, NOT Stoichiometric Reagents.

  10. Design Chemicals and Products to Degrade After Use.

  11. Analyze in Real TIme to Prevent Pollution.

  12. Minimize the Potential for Accidents. 

We will not explore every aspect of Green Chemistry, but we have already looked into some examples of technologies that run off of Green Chemistry, including Hydrogen fuel cells. Vehicle Technology relies on Green Chemistry to operate, as do many other technologies, but Green Chemistry can do so much more than what the eyes can see.

Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry A Beefy Problem

Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry A Beefy Problem

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

What do you call a cow that is grown for food? An utter (udder) waste of resources. 


No, but seriously. Making beef for America has never been more harmful to the environment. It takes 2,400 gallons of drinkable water to produce ONE pound of beef, and in feedlots these animals consume a ratio of grain to body weight of 3:1 or in some other studies 2:5. In general, the impact of beef per calorie requires 160 times more land than plants such as potatoes and rice, only to produce 11 times more greenhouse gasses in return. Overgrazing for grass-fed beef and removal of topsoil to create feed for feedlots can cause the soil to degrade over time, and the process of beef slaughter produces polluting organic matter, heavy metals, and hazardous waste which requires high levels of treatment to neutralize. 

There are many aspects to this sector to be worked on, with the safety of disposal of waste is a huge pressing issue. Basic waste of cow manure or “paunch” can stack up quickly, resorting to pooling in brown lakes for removal. Other byproducts are divided by liquids and solids, such as blood, gelatin, urine, biogas, waste water, tissues, bones, skin, left-over feed, and more. The sheer cleanup of this mountain of animal parts needs to find a home, and unfortunately there isn't much that can be done with the parts that are not edible for consumers. Disease and infections through this line of work are common, and just trying to compost the waste is not sustainable. There are many mass graves in the soil of just cow body parts that pollute the natural ground water, making it unsafe to drink for cows or for humans. 

Cows on their own make so much pollution that there should be research done to see what can be done to reduce the methane and greenhouse gas production of cows, to reduce the amount of combo effects such as undrinkable and blood-polluted water, and to simply make beef a more sustainable resource than spending thousands of gallons of water to make a simple steak. 

This task can be taken in fields of agriculture and sustainability, but also in businesses. The opportunity for businesses to take on include finding ways to make animal parts more marketable or create a product that relies off of these resources. Urine and paunch may not be useful, but the organic material can be donated or sold as testing material for labs, or the bones can be created into dog toys. Marketing and businesses can take advantage of these resources to make profit (which on its own, may cause some pollution during production, but can be arguably less pollution created than to let it go into the ground).

For more about the cattle problem, see below:

World Wildlife Fund

The Guardian


Beef Cattle Extension

Sustainable Dish

Crimson Publishers


Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry Fake Meats

Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry Fake Meats

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

In response to try and find a substitute for beef production, many scientists turn towards plants and vegetarian options. The result was the formation of what we know today as Fake Meats, entirely based on a vegetarian or even vegan composition of foods while still offering many of the same properties of a regular cut of beef. Many companies, such as MorningStar Farms, Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods have already begun to mass produce and sell fake meat in the forms of burgers and breakfast patties. 

The New York Times dives into the chemistry behind these fake meats, and how Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat make “beef” patties that look, react, and taste similar to the real thing. The ingredients include, but are not limited to pea and wheat fibers are used for the fatness and springy nature of the patty, palm or coconut oils for the juice and fat, and other rice, potato or soy protein, canola oil, sunflower oil, beet extract, and mung bean protein. 

One major component is produced from a genetically modified yeast, known as Leghemoglobin (LegH). It provides the red color and meaty flavor for Impossible Foods beef, and is an FDA approved protein. This ingredient alone sparks some major job opportunities and possibilities. 

For one, the importance of FDA approval requires the use of lawyers, as well as investigators to ensure that the compound meets the FDA guidelines for the definition of a fully vegetarian/vegan alternative. In the case of LegH, the drugs used to modify the yeast are FDA approved and safe, and further research on LegH has shown that the ingredient is not toxic for the human reproductive system. So even before the ingredient can be added to the “beef” and sold to consumers, there is extensive safety testing that must occur; this testing requires investigators and researchers to test and file results so that this product may be safe for consumers to consume. 

In addition to this, there is ongoing research to see how close the “beef” patties can get to the real deal. Consideration for different ingredients include their juice, fat, flavor, solidity at room temperature, and enjoyableness to consume. Labs need to consider these factors when trying to improve the consistency and feel of the fake meat, which calls for many more researchers and knowledge in not just chemistry, but also in agriculture and in biology of plants and cells.

To read more about LegH, see below:

Product Safety Labs

The Smallest Biomolecules



Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry Not-So Perishable

Green Job Sector: Green Chemistry Not-So Perishable

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

About 40% of the food in the United States is NEVER EATEN, even if the food is perfectly edible for consumers. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), this problem is due to groceries overstocking shelves, restaurants serving too much food, households being picky about how their vegetables look like or ignore food date labels, etc. This causes a lot of food to be thrown out, whether it is for appearance or becoming rotten. 

The appearance of food is up to consumer want; there needs to be a huge advocacy for destigmatizing food that looks incorrect and trusting that it is not “unsafe” or “unhealthier” than the perfect looking options. However, the question of how to make foods last longer can be answered through green chemistry. 

Apeel is a product that helps keep fruits and vegetables fresh for an additional week, and the ripeness window open for another 2-4 days, while still being vegan and containing no GMO with no food allergy potential. Completely safe to eat with no odor, color, or taste, this coating is applied to the outside of the fruit which mimics a natural coating called cutin, which is found on every fruit found in nature. This could reduce approximately 11% of greenhouse gas emissions from food waste, and prevent food waste on a greater scale. 

The science behind this coating is based on Lipids, which are amphiphilic -- one side water resistant while the other binds to water -- and help keep the moisture inside the food while keeping out the oxygen in the air and slowing down the dehydration process. By preventing oxidation and protecting the fruit, the food will last longer on the shelf and is thus more likely to be used. 

Katy Perry and Oprah Winfrey both have invested in Apeel’s startup, and can currently be found on avocados at major U.S. grocery stores. But although the science requires researchers to create the product and apply it to life’s obstacles, marketing is equally as important as the science. Without proper advocacy and knowledge of the product, less people are inclined to trust the safety and effectiveness of the product. In addition, to be properly environmentally friendly, there cannot be any Greenwashing or misleading (to learn about greenwashing, view the Seven Sins of Greenwashing). There needs to be more people who specialize in marketing that understand and know how to properly sell a product without being false or misleading as well as making the product more noticed and invested into by celebrities and consumers, just like with Apeel. 

To read more about what Apeel does, see below: 

Fast Company


Food Navigator


Green Job Sector: Safety Design

Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Appropriate technologies as defined by Appropriate Technology Collaborative (ATC) are “small scale, environmentally-sound and locally repairable solutions that make use of local skills and resources to provide for basic human needs with dignified work” (ATC). 

There are many medical devices, sanitation devices, and anything from water purification methods to food preparation tools can be classified under this definition. Limitations to these technologies are strict, especially when considering the cost of production, resources available, and how to maintain a low carbon footprint. Jobs in this market are extensive, and are a tough task to uphold, especially when the odds are never in favor of science. This sector will explore the different aspects of what goes into Green Design, and how to make sure that the impact of these products on the environment are low while outputting higher standards and healthier livings. 

Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.1

Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.1

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

This section will discuss cost and material design, and although we do not discuss particular jobs or businesses in these sections, it is important to consider the following to do well in design or to help build, manufacture, or even sell these types of products. 

1) Cost Effectiveness. 

A lot of products will usually be sent out to third world countries or to people who are in need of outside support to survive. Thus for a product to be useful to these countries, the technology must meet the cost limits. This means to stay profitable, the cost to make the device must be so small (basically cents) in order to stay affordable for third world countries who would otherwise not be able to afford it. There are some companies who decide to sponsor the distribution of more costly technologies, however these are rare. The product should cost as little as possible for its distribution and production. The choice of material also impacts production cost and distribution. A low-cost paper centrifuge is a perfect example of this; at a weight of 2 grams and a cost of literally 20 cents, this “paperfuge” is created from drinking straws, string, and paper. In 1.5 minutes of spinning at 125,000 rounds per minute (rpm) on HUMAN POWER ALONE, you can already separate the plasma from whole blood. Read more about paperfuges: National Institutes of Health.

2) Material Design.

Going along with the theme of Cost Effectiveness, the materials that are used to make the device must either be easily accessible and low cost or locally available in the area of use. This is in order to manage repairs and encourage the production of more technologies, where if something in the mechanism breaks the loss of production is not badly stifled for weeks because the repair material takes weeks to be imported. This would lead to poor planning, lack of resources for days, and lost trust that the machine is durable and worth the time of the locals. In addition to being easy to find and readily available, the material should meet standard requirements for its job such as heat resistance or water resistance. For example, modern solar chimneys are built with tinted glass, but in more primitive locations these can be built out of mud brick, favorable for high rates of thermal conductivity and painted with natural black dyes or paired with pools of water for retaining heat. Straw and light timber are alternatively more beneficial for insulation. These materials are cheap and easily found, and above all do the job. Read more about solar chimneys: Natural Building Collective and Solar Innovations.



Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.2

Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.2

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

This section will discuss operation of devices and the output of said device. As previously mentioned, although we do not discuss particular jobs or businesses in these sections, it is important to consider the following to do well in design or to help build, manufacture, or even sell these types of products.

3) Operation and Production Efficiencies

The operation of the product requires minimal effort or training. This is to ensure that local workers and people are able to operate the device with low to no supervision, increasing the efficiency of each device and using the minimal amount of labor to produce the maximum amount of profit. It should be fool proof, and keeping the safety of the operator in mind at all times. Band-Aids are one such product and, although the invention of this was developed in 1920, are still streamlined and easy to use. Most children can use a Band-Aid on their own, and are so easily accessible that most Band-Aids cost roughly 6 to 8 cents each. Cheap and efficient, these adhesive strips are one of many appropriate technologies. It allows the consumer to patch up small cuts and scrapes in no time, which is great. Although this product may not be a machine or any fancy hardware, it can be argued that the Band-Aid is a perfect appropriate technology. However this last point may make it less of the perfect technology. Read more about Band-Aids: Limn.

4) The Output Impact

The device itself needs to produce a benefit with almost zero waste and as little unusable byproduct as possible. The carbon footprint left by the device should be low, and should not impact the environment in any major way. It may not even be the device itself that produces the pollution, but rather a resource required for it. For example, items that use electricity are not favorable since the accessibility of electricity is scarce in a third-world setting, requiring a generator to supply enough current to power the device. It is not the device that is creating the pollution, rather it is the generator supplying the power. This needs to be considered when formulating and brainstorming device ideas. Band-Aids do not excel in this field since it is medically unfavorable to reuse any part of the invention, and is meant for quick and easy disposal. This does however leave a bigger carbon footprint than some other devices, creating more waste than others. This balance is very difficult to achieve, since a lot of low cost items usually need replacement parts to function. Thus most appropriate designs are integrated with reusable energy or high input-low output systems to lower their carbon footprint, however at a cost. Ideally, the invention can be cheap and cost effective, but this is usually not the case.  Usually items will trade their carbon footprint for a lower cost of production, such as Band-Aids. 

Amongst these very general requirements, there are many more intricacies that can be uncovered by simply asking yourself this question: “Does this device achieve my goal in the cheapest, most environmentally friendly, and most simple way?” The answer to this question may not result in satisfying the question completely, but it does invite consideration and openness to other avenues of thought. This is important as you take on different challenges in development and in marketing, since you will need to identify the proper selling points and the main features of why someone would want to purchase your product. Other job opportunities can come up from specializing in materials, in design and engineering, and in most cases require other specializations for not only anthropology (testing on humans and environment) but also for efficiency. These intricacies are what many engineers and manufactures have to consider when the product is made, so this is important to keep in mind moving forwards. 



Green Job Sector: Appropriate Design The LifeStraw

Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology The LifeStraw

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

The original LifeStraw is the result of over 25 years of development from starting with removing Guinea worms from drinking water. The company responsible for LIfeStraw is Vestergaard, devoting their platform and technologies to products and solutions for disadvantaged people. 

The main advantage of the LifeStraw is the portability and the purification power. With the filter being able to clean out bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from roughly 4,000 L total of any water source, it is a powerful product that -- at least to us -- seems cheap retailing at only $15. According to a thesis report done on the effectiveness of LifeStraw, the filtration is roughly 90-99% effective (depending on the life of the filter) and is predicted to be very effective at reducing the amount of viral and bacterial waterborne pathogens in the water to very low amounts or even uncontaminated levels (Walters). Replacement filters are only half that price, and much of their other products are reasonably priced the same way. Other products include the LifeStraw Community, designed to be stationary and provide clean water for many, many more people, and LifeStraw Bottles which provide an easy mode of portable clean water. 

Their company even strives to be more environmentally friendly, simply by making their water bottles from recycled plastics and reducing their packaging size in order to reduce waste. This information is recorded in the LifeStraw Responsibility Report, which is also a great check for those who support LifeStraw and their mission to provide clean water to everyone. 

Although their design is not exactly Appropriate Design, or at least does not meet the requirement that it must use local resources (the filters and water housings must be purchased for replacement), this technology definitely meets the other limitations in which it is easy to use, is beneficial (prevents disease from parasites and bacteria), and of a low cost amount for communities to invest in.  

LifeStraw’s team includes everything from Sales Manager to Lab Technicians to Procurement Manager. Other job options in these kinds of companies include but are not limited to Accounting Manager, Laboratory Manager, Product Performance Validation, Corporate Counsel, Human Resources Business Partner, Cause Program Coordinator, Digital Marketing Manager, and Sales and Logistics Coordinators. The full list of LifeStraw’s team is linked here

To support LifeStraw, visit their website. To read more about LifeStraw, see below:

3BL Media

Insider Reviews


Green Job Sector: Legal Matters

Green Job Sector: Safety and Business

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

The safety of consumers and workers are almost always considered, but the safety for the environment around consumers and workers is rarely considered when businesses have money. Fenceline communities and other factories are just some of the examples where consumers and workers alike can face harsh pollution and can contract diseases such as cancer. Other situations regarding safety include the Bhopal Disaster (Professor Kim Fortun has done extensive research on this topic) featuring a fatal Methyl Isocyanate gas leak with many thousands dead. 

This next section will focus on the business side of the environment, understanding how companies can get around being economically friendly and what are the obstacles in the way of many companies being able to make a bigger change.

Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Environmental Safety and Control

Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Environmental Safety and Control

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Safety is and should always be the number one concern for any employer and employee, and more especially when dealing with chemicals or other substances that may be harmful to the environment if inappropriately contained. There are many methods in regards to how to control the spill before it occurs, which are offered and regulated by the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This section will take a look at the necessary methods to keep workers safe on the job.

Prevention through Design (PtD) is the national initiative led by NIOSH, and their “Hierarchy of Controls” (picture seen left) are what many manufacturers follow to try to effectively and reliably remove hazards in the workplace. The first two steps that are most effective are to Eliminate and to Substitute, which both involve the chemicals themselves. If possible, it would be preferred to not use the chemicals at all, eliminating the use of it from the manufacturing process altogether. This leaves zero risk to impact a worker’s health, since it obviously never is anywhere near the worker in the first place. When this is not possible, the question then becomes “Can you substitute this toxic chemical with a less toxic one and achieve the same result?” 

There are a few things to consider if a chemical can substitute for another, one of which is cost and effectiveness. If the product requires so much of the substitute chemical to achieve the same result, it may not be worth it to spend more money on a chemical that wastes so much more (and therefore costs so much more to attain, use, and dispose of). In addition, storage of said amount of substitute chemicals may be larger than what is currently being housed, which needs to be accounted for accurately. Once the chemicals have been refined to the least hazardous classification possible, it is time to consider controls. 

There are two kinds of controls when working with hazards: administrative controls and engineering controls. Of the two, Engineering controls are always favored over administrative, since “they are designed to remove the hazard at the source”. Typically these controls are automated in some way, for example an emergency shut off valve that automatically triggers when the chemical levels hit a certain number, or in the home a circuit breaker. These controls also include physical barriers or tools, such as filters, ventilators, and machine guards, that protect the worker independent of the task. Although more expensive in the short term, an investment into good quality equipment can mean longer lasting protection for the various workers. Administrative controls on the other hand involve changes in procedures, safety policies, rules, scheduling, supervision, or training. Rather than changing the environment, instead better prepare the workers to deal with the hazards on the job. These controls are relatively inexpensive to implement at first, but are prone to human error and over time can result in costly accidents or in additional time and effort to train workers to be better prepared. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense, and is worn by the workers to defend against initial spills and contamination. This again relies on the workers wearing the PPE properly and being able to work effectively with the gear they are given. This can be cheap or expensive depending on how much PPE the workers are required to wear on the job, and how often the PPE needs to be replaced or if it can be washed. 

To view more about safety protocols and recommendations, see these links below.

Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version

NIOSH Engineering Controls Database



Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Environmentally Friendly Products

Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Environmentally Friendly Products

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Although safety is one concern, being environmentally friendly is another. Rather than pertaining to the personnel or the consumer safety, this revolves around the product itself, what is contained inside the product, and the impact on the environment from using it.

What makes a product environmentally friendly? One popular brand that is famous for its cute duck ads is Dawn, and their dish soap. Working with International Bird Rescue and The Marine Mammal Center, they have worked hard to help animals affected by oil pollution (Dawn).  Biodegradable, non-toxic, and using “35% PCR (post consumer recycled) content in clear bottles”, it is a company very active in making products that are committed to a better environment (Dawn). A huge rising competitor to this massive soap brand is Seventh Generation. Seventh Generation makes more than just soap, but also uses many plant based/derived ingredients, with only synthetic materials in place of petroleum or natural gas carbon. Just like Dawn, their ingredients list is open to the public, but Seventh Generation also displays their Impact Reports, displaying their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their sustainable sourcing percentages. A graph of Seventh Generation’s 2020 Better Plastic Improvement and a graph of their 2020 Sustainable Sourcing is depicted on the left. (Seventh Generation)

Both of these products are results of many hours of lab work and work hard to continue to recycle, reuse, and make products biodegradable. Even though both products are not perfectly sustainable, and by no means are going to change everything, they do take a massive leap forwards in reducing waste and setting the example for other companies to follow. Not only are these companies good at selling the environmental point, they are also sold at an affordable cost, making them very appealing to consumers and puts them into the category as an appropriate technology. Although we do not know how much emissions result from producing these products necessarily, it is important to record the values such as GHG emissions to at least show that the company is attempting to achieve their goals in reducing pollution as much as possible. 

By classifying as an appropriate technology and recording the data to make their product credible, businesses can appeal to the consumer market and spread awareness for environmentally safer options. Read more about Seventh Generation’s Principle of Precaution here and click the links above to see sources and more about Dawn.



Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Global Scales and Consequences

Green Job Sector: Safety and Business Global Scales and Consequences

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Although safety is very important, many businesses look to shave off some corners to save some dollars, and on paper this could include cuts to salaries, less money set aside for PPE and other engineering controls, or even a lack of effective supervision. But by turning a bigger profit for the upper levels, many people below will suffer much more greatly. 

Luckily the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps businesses to a standard level of safety. This includes topics regarding tool safety (chainsaws, big machinery, etc.), natural disaster safety regulations, chemical storage regulations, and so on. These regulations are, however, not necessarily applicable globally speaking. 

As mentioned before, Professor Kim Fortun has done extensive work researching the Bhopal Disaster, how and why it happened, and the results of both the damage done to the residents of Bhopal and the following protests and distrust towards Union Carbide, an American Company. The containment failure resulted in “42 tons of toxic Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) being exposed to [over] 500,000 people” and to date have killed over 16,000 and injured over half a million people (MedCrave). Since this chemical plant disaster occured in Bhopal, India, OSHA would have had no say in the regulation of the chemical plant. Thus the bad choices made by upper management (shutting off safety features and relying on one method to prevent breach) and the bad engineering of the chemical containers (water susceptible and ineffective) increased the likelihood of failure by magnitudes of what predicted maximum damage could have been. Both of these variables could have been prevented if management decided to invest more effectively and created the plant with better safety and containment in the first place. 

It is important to note that the results of the Bhopal Disaster, although it occured 1984, are still being felt today in the form of contamination of water sources in Bhopal. Children were mostly affected, and were left with many health complications, while the parents were either left widowed or to be forced to work with similar health complications (2018 The Atlantic). The results of the Bhopal disaster also extended to the reaches of the consumers and other fence line communities, especially where the sister Union Carbide plant is located. Many communities around the Union Carbide chemical plant became very paranoid of meeting the same fate as the Indian community around Bhopal, and many companies followed suit in order to reassure fence line communities but also adhere to better working conditions and safety protocols. Even despite these changes, many plants in the following decades have had failures and other toxic spills, killing many more people and continuing to affect the lives of many consumers and communities. These are the consequences for not investing in safety, and businesses pay the price heavily for failing to follow safety rules.

One final note: Remember that safety procedures are never 100% effective, and accidents can still happen. Instead these protocols are used to reduce the impact of spills and to lower the percent chance that an accident occurs in the first place. Thus the idea of any safety system is to be able to control as many variables as possible. We cannot be safe without the funding or the consideration for these hazards, and everyone from chemists to business people should be aware of the scale of the consequences. 

 To see more about the Bhopal Disaster results, please get into contact with Professor Fortun, or view the cited sources above.


Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness

Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Within a lot of commercials and advertisements, there is almost always something that is misleading or not told that would otherwise discourage some consumers from using said products. This is true for soap commercials, true for video game ads, true for chocolate and other processed foods, true for fast food chains, and especially true for green technologies and green procedures. This of course is not true for ALL companies but there are some major hidden secrets in some things we take for granted, especially as a very modern society. 

One such example that is not necessarily green related, but important to know about regardless, is that Nestle and many, many other cocoa-using companies (Hershey, Mars, etc.) continue to this DAY to use child labor to keep chocolate cheap. If you don’t believe me, search it up yourself; children at 15 years of age are using machetes and are underfed and overworked.  According to the Washington Post, the chocolate industry has failed to eradicate child labor in 2005, 2008, and 2010, and was predicted to miss the next deadline in 2020 (which it has). Although this topic is not related to Green Technologies, it does show how little people actually care to know and do research on the products they are sold. Myths and other lies are fed to many people, and being unaware of these lies makes it very difficult to get rid of the old habits of consuming good, cheap chocolate. 

This section will target both myth and solutions. We already discussed Greenwashing in the previous section, and we have discussed what is considered the most appropriate technology in order to be both eco friendly and appealing to use. We will continue to open up some truths about current situations, and discuss how you can get involved to do your part.

Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness Recycling

Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness Recycling

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

I would recommend watching “Plastic Wars” created by PBS before continuing, as a lot of what will be discussed here will be based on this film. 

If you have watched the film, a lot of what I will say is review. However for those who didn’t, here is a quick summary. Many American consumers do not recognize that some plastics are not actually quickly recyclable, requiring a lab to break down some types of plastics. This causes a lot of plastic to just be thrown away, since using lab chemicals to break down one plastic item is too costly or too toxic. Only cans and other certain plastics can be easily melted down and reused. The leftover is made into huge bricks or “hay bales”, which are called mixed plastics, and end up just being thrown away or transported to other countries to be shoved into their landfill. The symbols and their respective recyclability can be seen on the image to the left. 

How was this myth concealed? “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a saying manufactured by the plastics company to allow people to be more comfortable in using plastics. It is a scam to get consumers to think they are helping the environment by using a “reusable item”. Plastics companies know that plastics can cause more harm than good. But the issue is not just the plastic companies’ fault or the people’s faults. Oil and fuel companies, food companies, and other lines of work rely on plastics for safety, low cost efficiency, and sanitation. Food is wrapped in high grade, cheap plastic. Yogurt comes in plastic containers, and helmets and other PPE or safety equipment relies on plastic as the primary barrier between the human and the chemicals. These single use plastics are the convenience we take for granted; we need plastics, but it is also destroying our environment. Where the main issue lies is that these companies that rely on plastics are not willing to give up plastics at all. Alternatives to other plastics can actually do more harm than good, since alternatives are usually more expensive and less safe than the actual plastic being used. Until the alternatives can be cheaper, equally or more safe, and environmentally friendly, these companies will not budge.

As of now, “91 percent of all plastic is not recycled at all” and it is from the collective billions of people on this earth who use millions of cans, plastics, and other trash that we have no capability of recycling such a huge amount of waste (NRDC). So what do we do? How can we tackle such a huge problem?

Here is where awareness is a key factor. Most likely, you will read this paragraph and continue to use single use plastics or plastics that cannot be recycled. In the COVID-19 environment this is more vital than ever to use plastics to maintain safety. However, what you can do is be aware; look to reuse some plastic spoons/forks/knives, containers, plastic bags, etc. and look for ways to repurpose the waste. There will be some that you must waste, but you can do your best to minimize it. Attempt to persuade other researchers to make experiments and research towards solving this crisis, or even get in touch with the government to make recycling more streamlined and more effective. Research needs to be done in this sector in order to begin discussion on how to reduce plastic wastes. 

To read more on plastics (and climate change) see these articles:



Plastic Action Centre



Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness Information Database Development

Green Job Sector: Education and Awareness Information Database Development

Slide Created By Gerald Lee

Useful and properly logged information can be difficult to attain especially when a lot of company data regarding pollution and resource usage is private. However as we saw with Seventh Generation, having that data available is beneficial for consumers to make educated decisions in choosing to buy a product. For many communities that advocate for better environmental injustice changes, these resources are even more impactful to help provide support to prove that business policies need to change. Information Databases are the solution to make businesses more accountable for the pollution they spew, and helps provide weight behind many EJ movements. 

Some such databases include EJAtlas, who collect stories of the community and document corporate events that include shutting down power plants, to biomass and land conflicts, to industrial and utilities conflicts, and much more. Although this project is a work in progress, they have documented over 3.5 thousand cases of environmental injustices around the world. 

Another database includes the California Healthy Places Index, who use census data to help track the living conditions of all cities across the state of California. Not only do they track the environment and air levels, but also education, price of housing, healthcare access, and neighborhood friendliness. Although restricted to California, this kind of data is also useful in relating crime rates and residential happiness, especially when compared to the EJScreen Mapper. Created by the EPA, it allows you to view the area around cities for hazardous waste in relation to schools, parks, etc. EJScreen is available for the entire United States, and combined with other online databases can be used to zone and isolate areas of focus and importance when promoting change in the environment. CalEnviroScreen is similar to the Healthy Places Index, but uses other indicators to color in the map accordingly. All of these resources are important but occasionally do not provide enough information. For example, using one screening map will only give a certain level of information, but compared to another map in the same area, researchers can infer better on why there may be an increased health concern in one area versus another, due to the proximity of waste production areas. 

Risk Management Plans (RMP) Proximity Maps are also very informative, and are specific to factories and other facilities to map out the area of risk (for evacuations in case of catastrophic failure) but are the least available to the public. These RMP maps will display “Toxic Worst Case” scenarios, using red circles to highlight where the impact area would be in case of a breach of containment, similar to the Bhopal Disaster. This kind of information is useful to keep corporations accountable for the level of risk and the level of pollution they produce. 

As much as the current resources are helpful, other businesses are still not being held accountable for their end of the deal, and without the money to overpower these mega corporations, advocates turn to the hard facts and information to stake a claim. Mapping technology and other databases of information which track history and predict disasters are needed everywhere to provide a better idea of the impact pollution has on the world. 

For more databases and useful sites, research your area or ask your professor for more resources. 


Past Summer Case Studies

The following are the case studies that Gerald helped build along with his peers in the Summer Session I, 2020 Anthro25A course at UCI.