By TRAVIS HIGH
The year 2015 was a year of tremendous growth for the Leaders in Energy professional networking and educational group. As a member of the marketing team, I felt privileged to be a part of it and to work closely with our fearless leader, Janine Finnell, on the group’s development.
Since December 2014, membership in the LinkedIn group has risen 65% to 1,900 members from around the world. In addition, the organization has 1,200 individuals on its mailing list who participate in the organization’s monthly educational and networking events in the Washington DC Metro area. This year the group hosted eleven professional networking events, supported by such partners as ACORE, American Public Power Association, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Arlington Green, Biogas Researchers, Budderfly, Business Radar, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, Iron Goat, Net Impact DC, Potential Energy DC, Purposeful Hire, Resilient Virginia, and many more.
In addition, we recently hosted the first in a series of global conversations called “Leaders in Energy without Borders” to increase our connections with our global members. (More to come at https://www.leadersinenergy.org). We also learned about ways to incorporate sustainability into everyday life at the Arlington Community Center (with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment), exhibited at the Northern Virginia Business Expo in Reston, VA, and even showed up for the opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Arlington.
Our leadership team was interviewed by Miriam Gennari on 2 shows with Arlington Sustainable Scoop on Arlington Independent Media. We also recorded several segments about the Circular Economy that are available on our Leaders in Energy YouTube channel.
2015 Networking Events
Our monthly events in the Washington, DC metro area covered a range of clean energy topics. We learned about clean energy challenges, initiatives, financing, careers and jobs, as well as the role of smart tech and infrastructure in promoting energy efficiency. Participants at the Circular Economy workshop benefited from an exclusive tour of Alexandria Renew Enterprises, followed by panel discussions and networking. When you’re hanging out with Leaders in Energy, it’s all about the networking. We like helping people to connect with others on green jobs, business, and other opportunities related to creating sustainable solutions. In fact, at our Green Jobs event in April, we gave a shout out to our members who landed jobs via connections they made in our group.
Events in 2015 included:
January 21 – Funding Clean Tech Innovation
February 20 – Energy Extravaganza
March 19 – Sustainable Manufacturing/Circular Economy
April 16 – Green Jobs
May 27 – Energy Petting Zoo
May 30 – Family Outing at the Oatlands Strawberry Festival
September 15 – Smart Cities
October 8 – Urban Sustainability
December 4 – Four Generations: Leading through Adversity
Diversity in the clean energy field continues to be a priority for us as we conducted our second “Four Generations: Leadership in Clean Energy and Sustainability” award and holiday event this year. In addition to generational diversity, we awarded three of the awards to women and minorities who are making valuable clean energy and sustainability contributions. Earlier in the year, we conducted a high level panel discussion with female experts during the Energy Extravaganza. As we move forward as a group of leaders in energy and sustainability, I believe this will continue and get stronger.
Indeed, the work demands it. The level of ambition that was underscored in the major commitments made under the President’s Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement will require action from many stakeholders. Not only that, it will also entail interdisciplinary action and working across technology and discipline silos (e.g., solar, nuclear, and energy efficiency; and energy’s impact on broader sustainability issues like water, waste, food, oceans, etc.). We’ve seen excellence in interdisciplinary work at our events at the George Washington University and Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS), and we will see it again at George Mason on February 5.
This year we had 20 blog posts that speak to this challenge and to the opportunities that can be found in between disciplines.
Challenges of clean energy and sustainability
- The Need For A New Fuel Paradigm: Transitioning From Legacy Fuels to Modern Efficient Fuels – Bill Brandon
- Up with Octane and Down with Aromatics: Continuing Health Risks with Petroleum Fuels and the Need for Engine Efficiency – Bill Brandon
- Ethanol and Butanol: Symbiotic Partners for a Modern Fuel – Bill Brandon and Richard Ezike, PhD.
- America’s Power Crisis: The Surprising Link Between Clean and Dirty Power (and how to break it) – Will Gathright
- Personal Commitments to Accelerate the Goals Envisioned in the Paris Agreement (If Nations Can Make Carbon Reduction Contributions, How about INDIVIDUALS?) – Janine Finnell
- Does Today’s Smart Grid Need More Intelligence? The Link Between Intelligence & Reliability – Deepak Swamy
- America’s Electric Grid: Why Is Our Thinking in the Dark? – Mike Hyland
- Cities of The Future: Integrating Climate Planning and Smart Technologies – Armando Gaetaniello
- The Challenge and Potential Savings of Managing Plug and Other Energy Loads in Buildings – Shawn Silver
- Lessons From The Danish Energy Model – Niels Malskaer
Building connections, role models, partnerships, and jobs
- The Currency of Entrepreneurship is Connections – Janine Finnell
- The Thread Connecting Generations: Catching up with Elenor Hodges – Travis High
- Managing difficult change in large energy organizations: Catching up with Josh Silverman – Travis High
- Things to Consider When Searching for a Green Business Partner – Travis High
- White House Champions of Change Share Their Journey to Climate Action – Carla Fleming
- Reaching Out to Clean Energy and Sustainability Practitioners to Drive Change – Janine Finnell, Miriam Gennari, and Travis High
- Can Green Business Talent Avoid the Gig Economy? – Dan Smolen
2015 was also a year of expansion for the group’s presence on social media. We created new company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook to accompany our LinkedIn group and accounts on Twitter and YouTube. Many of our followers are not local to DC and cannot attend our network events, so one of the things we’re working on is having sessions like the Leaders in Energy Without Borders session we held recently. Online platforms are going to be a key building block for our community, and we encourage our readers to connect with us from wherever you are.
What’s next in 2016?
This will surely be a year of growth and transformation, for both the Leaders in Energy group, now in its third year, and for the U.S. and the world in terms of energy and sustainability policy and business. For us, it will be about keeping up the momentum we’ve seen over the past two years and continuing to offer the best and most up-to-date programs for our members, wherever they are.
How COP21 is implemented will be on everyone’s mind, as will the U.S. presidential election. Our hope is that we’ll be able to offer timely discussions on topics that have a place in these larger national and global agendas as well as practical implications for our members here in the Washington, DC area. Some of our events later this year may include green jobs and manufacturing, fossil fuel energy, a special Presidential Energy Debate, and of course our annual 4 Generations event. Here’s what we’ve got planned for January and February 2016:
- “Green Financing,” Wednesday, January 20th, 2016, 6 – 8 pm, with Potential Energy DC, 1616 Anderson Road, McLean, VA
- “Speeding up Clean Energy Deployment & Growth: New Technologies, Innovation, Standards & Collaboration,” sponsored by Entrepreneurs in Clean Energy, Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM. More details are available here.
- “Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza,” Leaders in Energy, Association of Energy Engineers – National Capital Chapter, and the George Mason University (GMU); February 5, 2016, 11 am – 7 pm, at GMU Arlington campus. Lunch, Afternoon Showcase Presentations, and Reception. Stayed tuned for upcoming details.
- Leaders in Energy Without Borders, Google Hangout Conversation, scheduled for February 2016. Stay tuned for upcoming details.
It’s going to be an exciting year, folks.