Engineering Sustainability: Full Steam Ahead

Meet Brenna, a visionary chemical engineer at LyondellBasell, who is making significant strides in sustainability and community outreach. With a deep-rooted passion for improving efficiencies and reducing environmental impacts, Brenna's story highlights the critical role of innovation and sustainability in the chemical industry.

Meet Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell
One of America’s Change Makers

Brenna makes things work better.

“I like to improve things. At work, I feel as though I have the opportunity to improve the lives of others.”

Brenna works for LyondellBasell, a leader in the global chemical industry creating solutions for everyday sustainable living.

Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell outside facility

“As a chemical engineer, I’ve always worked in manufacturing. I feel that plastics are essential to providing solutions to everyday sustainable living. They play a vital role around the globe from keeping food fresh longer to providing safe and high-quality solutions for healthcare.”

Engineering Sustainability

While her company’s materials contribute to better lives, Brenna’s constantly looking for ways to make them more efficient. And to continually drive down their environmental footprint.

“I am an optimization engineer. My role is to support key initiatives at our site, especially those focused on sustainability. Most of my initiatives reduce greenhouse gases, reduce raw materials, or reduce energy.”

“Sustainability is a core part of what we do. It’s focusing our efforts on solving today’s challenges to create a better tomorrow for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.”

Her background — professional and personal – makes her particularly suited for her role.

Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell speaking with coworkers

“My role as an engineer is always to minimize waste. I’ve been doing sustainability my entire career, focused on reducing the raw materials it takes to make our products, reducing waste and reducing energy.”

“As an engineer, what we do every day is making things more sustainable.”

Fixing Things Is in Brenna’s DNA

Her upbringing in southern Louisiana plays a big role.

Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell with family

“I am deeply rooted in Cajun culture. My family is Cajun and has been in Louisiana for at least 12 generations. I’m very proud of this area because of the people that live here. They’re fun-loving, hardworking people who love food, love music, and love LSU football.”

“My dad was an engineer. He and I had similar interests: troubleshooting things, fixing things, and taking things apart.”

“I love to cook and bake. When I think about chemical engineering, it’s very similar. We bake things, we mix things, and we cook things. Sometimes when you bake, you’re like, ‘Oh, I should have done it this way.’ It’s a process where you learn, right? It’s a process very similar to chemical processes, very similar to what engineers do to innovate and make things better.”

And she often brings that expertise home with her.

“One of my hobbies is working on cars and tinkering with things to make them better, troubleshooting them, or improving them. Being a single mother with four children, we’ve had to fix a lot of cars to keep them running.”

“I think that probably stems a lot from the Cajun culture that’s instilled in myself from my ancestors, to just live off the land, figure things out and fix things yourself.”

One simple work example of Brenna fixing things … the process of making things more efficient?

“The plastic resin (materials) that’s made here is shipped out by rail. We want to make sure that we put as much plastic resin as we can in each rail car that ships out of this facility, so that we have to ship out fewer rail cars. That’s a simple example of one of the initiatives we support here at our site.”

Reducing Energy Use

She recently helped fix something far more complex.

“One of the key initiatives for our site was to commission a steam turbine generator” (to provide power for the facility’s manufacturing operations).

Brenna and her team commissioned equipment that utilizes excess steam from the facility operations to generate electricity.

“What’s amazing about this generator is that it uses excess steam from our site to produce a portion of our own electricity. This allows us to reduce the amount of electricity that we bring into the site by about 25 percent.”

Their solution provided a big payback.

Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell by computer

“The generator is designed to run up to 25 megawatts, which is enough power to supply 25,000 homes.”

“The steam turbine generator is now up and running well, and we’re able to bring in less electricity from off site and measure those results.”

Encouraging Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Brenna spreads her passion for optimizing and engineering throughout her community, including schools.

Brenna, optimization engineer, LyondellBasell presenting to children

“One of the things that I do often is volunteer here to engage young minds and teach them about engineering and the benefits of STEM. My volunteering efforts tend to gravitate towards educational initiatives and workforce development opportunities. Programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Junior Achievement, and Partners in Education provide a great opportunity for me to mentor the future leaders in our community.”


“I do that because I care about where I live and work. I also want to inspire young minds for generations to come. When they say, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ I talk about how it could be a great career path for them.”

“And for some of them, it opens their eyes.”

Thanks for making things work better. Geaux Brenna, Geaux!!

We wish Brenna and her team continued success.