By TRAVIS HIGH
In 2017 Leaders in Energy continued to mature in its mission to build a community of leaders and a global action network to advance clean energy and sustainable solutions for a more sustainable energy system, economy, and world.
Our membership continued to grow in the Washington DC area, with 1,500 members on our mailing list, in addition to our LinkedIn group with over 2,900 members. We have a presence in most major U.S. metropolitan areas and over 100 countries.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Janine Finnell and our Board, Team Members and Advisors, the organization has provided important forums for clean energy and sustainability in the DC area, as well as nationally and globally. Our events last year came at a time of immense change and new threats, but also new opportunities to cement the transition to a green economy.
Here are some of the highlights.
Multigenerational Leadership and Talent
Leadership has become one of the key pillars of our outreach. This past December leaders from four generations were recognized for their contributions to the clean energy field. For the first time, we gave a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to S. David Freeman.
Throughout the year attendees learned the leadership skills that are needed for the green economy. Elsewhere, members wrestled with the political leadership changes in this country and their implications for the lofty agenda set in the 2015 Paris Agreement and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
- The case was made by the Four Generations award-winners for the urgency of leadership in sustainability. (Four Generations Awards – December)
- Federal and local government leaders shared their experiences of working to embrace sustainability in the public sector. Female leaders reflected on their careers and provided advice and career tips for others in the clean energy field at a panel for the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership, part of the National Capital Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers. Clean energy pioneer, Scott Sklar, imparted his wisdom about renewable energy solutions. (Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza – February)
- Danielle Tergis reviewed recent attempts by companies to stand up for political causes that matter to their executives and employees. (Blog)
- Ted Kennedy analyzed the record of the Trump Administration on energy policy and climate change. (Blog)
- Carla Fleming made the case for American businesses to take a more active leadership role. (Blog)
- Janine Finnell recounted her participation in a two-day Management Essentials seminar offered by the Association of Energy Engineers in March. (Blog)
The second pillar is sustainable communities, which includes encouraging clean energy technologies and promoting the principles of the circular economy. Leaders in Energy hosted a workshop in October on the circular economy and launched a working group to take a deep dive into the opportunities that are available in this area, so that we can move away from a throwaway society.
- Leaders in Energy partnered with the DC Chapter of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and U.S. Green Building Council National Capital Region to visit the newly certified Living Building Challenge facility at the Alice Ferguson Foundation. (AFF visit – May) Later that year, AFF President and CEO Lori Arguelles won the Generation X award for leadership in sustainability.
- Campus sustainability officers from six local higher education institutions outlined their schools’ commitments. Sponsors of the Extravaganza presented their companies’ innovations in clean energy and sustainable buildings, including case studies from local campuses. (Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza – February)
- Attendees at the 3rd annual circular economy event heard about success stories and identified steps toward action to build a circular economy in the DC region. (Circular Economy forum – September)
- A significant part of the year was dedicated to resilience and energy security. For the first time, in June, Leaders in Energy hosted an author, Vienna-based Marc Elsberg, who wrote Blackout about a fictional cyberattack on the European grid. In June we were given a rather distressing wakeup call, as experts debated the level of cybersecurity in the power grid and discussed preparedness and response measures. (Energy Infrastructure and Cybersecurity forum – June) . Later in September, there was a small book discussion group to delve deeper into Elsberg’s book.
- Two panels discussed microgrid technologies, which have reached a tipping point in their use to promote grid reliability and security. (Microgrids forum – October)
- Miriam Aczel, who has contributed multiple times to our blog, wrote about microgrids in the context of resilience and distributed energy. (Blog)
- At the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Green Festival, we learned from Sandra Postel of National Geographic about the need to reduce our water footprint. (NVCC Festival – April) According to the World Economic Forum, water scarcity is a top global risk. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of the 2018 WEF Annual Meeting in the next week on this.
- Neighborhood Sun, one of our favorite local outfits, discussed a subscription-based model for community solar projects. (Blog)
Our third pillar is where we take what we’ve learned and what we are passionate about and try to make some money. For the fourth year running, we held our Green Jobs Forum and job fair, highlighting Leaders in Energy members who have landed a green job or have become an entrepreneur. This year we were pleased to welcome Beth Offenbacker, PhD, as the facilitator of a Green Career workshop (to be reprised this January).
- Clean energy professionals exchanged career tips and heard from Leaders in Energy members who had found green jobs (Green Jobs – August)
- In partnership with DC Net Impact, we surveyed public, private, and international opportunities for green financing. (Green Financing forum – January)
- Leaders in Energy exhibited at the Annual Meeting of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE), where the topic of eco-labels and standards was discussed. (ACE meeting – March)
- Joseph Kirschke explored why the global mining industry is embracing renewable energy. (Blog)
- Hannah West discussed eco-friendly growth and what it means for green jobs. (Blog)
Sponsors and Partners
This year we were supported by many important sponsors and partners, including ACE, ArlingtonGreen, Cadmus, Career Confidence, Carrier, Cisco, Coffeffe, The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia, CSRA, Darktrace, DC Net Impact, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, Edison Electric Institute, Edge Hosting, eSai LLC, FilmBison Media, Green Leaders DC, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, Groupsense, Home Energy Medics, Industrial Ecosystems Partners, LLC, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, Johnson Controls, Longenecker & Associates, MeteoViva, Microgrid Knowledge, MOM’s Organic Market, Nissan Leaf, Potential Energy DC, Resilient Virginia, Tesla, The Solar Foundation, Sourcebooks, Thermaxx Jackets, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), U.S. Green Building Council, VMDO, Water Management, Inc., Waterford, Inc., 40 Plus, among others.
Starting off 2018 on a good foot
We invite you to join our community of leaders. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. There are many stories of our members connecting to find green jobs, get inspired, and collaborate on projects to make a difference by advancing clean energy and sustainable solutions for a more sustainable energy system, economy, and world.
Here’s what we’ve got planned for 2018:
- January 18: Clean energy project financing
- January 24: Green career workshop
- February 23: 4th annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza – University of Maryland
- August 16: 5th annual green jobs forum
- December 7: 5th annual Four Generations of Clean Energy and Sustainable Solutions Awards
Leaders in Energy is building a community of engaged leaders to create a sustainable energy system, economy, and world. The three main areas of action are the green economy, sustainable communities, and multigenerational leadership. With operations in Metro Washington DC, we’ve built a base that spans most major metropolitan areas and over 100 countries. More information is available at https://www.leadersinenergy.org and in the Leaders in Energy Research, Communication, Policies & Analysis (LERCPA) LinkedIn group.