More than two decades have passed since Tiffany Wilmot founded her consulting firm Wilmot Inc. in 1994.
Although she first gained work experience in the solid waste engineering department of engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer, it was her grandmother who taught her about recycling.
“Everyone really huddled together to save resources,” says Wilmot. “During the Second World War, everyone saved everything. They took pieces of soap and crushed them together. They saved every can and recycled aluminum for war planes.
Wilmot started his company to help companies find other ways to provide customers with sustainable, low-impact resources when developing sites. In 1996, Wilmot Inc. got its big break working on sustainability issues in the construction of the future Nissan Stadium with then-Mayor Phil Bredesen. According to Wilmot, his company was able to help save money by taking leftover building materials such as rocks, bricks, blocks and concrete and turning them into gravel.
“It worked really well and ended up saving half a million dollars on top of all our costs,” she says.
The company’s involvement in the stadium project prompted Wilmot to start a demolition company and obtain a general contractor’s license to scavenge materials off site instead of putting them in a landfill. Wilmot eventually walked away from the demolition business, and in 2008 she decided to start a nonprofit organization, Tennessee Women in Green, after noticing that the field of sustainability was male-dominated.
His company has worked on various recycling and waste reduction projects with several clients, including The Coors Co., Mitsubishi, Music City Solar and the US military, with the goal of reducing energy and water consumption. Now the company is partnering with Metro on solar projects, she says. Additionally, Wilmot Inc. has expanded its services by offering sustainability consulting to new areas such as environmental support, economic analysis, solar design and strategic planning.
“If you cut down trees and build a building there, there is less oxygen and the air will be dirtier,” she says. “We have more asthma and higher rates of respiratory disease. The pollution in the air you need, we breathe it. The paint company that puts paint in the river; they don’t pay for it. They get it for free, but it costs society.
Wilmot is also committed to making workplaces more productive. She says toxins can contribute to employee headaches and “sick building syndrome,” a condition that impacts the health and comfort of workers who spend a lot of time in buildings.
“When you have people in a green building, they’re more productive because they have daylight that helps their eyes,” she says. “If you can see daylight, it improves your mood and you’re more productive.”
Wilmot has advice for those looking to create a healthier planet.
“The easiest place to start is recycling, because anyone can do it,” she says. “However, the best value for money is energy reduction.”