By MIRIAM ACZEL
On February 15th, Leaders in Energy (LE) hosted its greatly successful fifth annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza. The theme of the event was “Getting to Net Zero Emissions in Energy, Carbon, Water, and Waste.” LE in partnership with the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter (AEE NCC) and the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) jointly hosted the event. The jam-packed day showcased exciting new ideas and technologies, policies and services that are advancing clean energy, achieving zero waste, and promoting efficient water.
After kicking off with the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) Luncheon Panel on “Career Perspectives in Cleantech from Women Leaders” (11 am – 1:45 pm), and the University and Business Showcase Panels – Getting to Net Zero Emissions in Energy, Carbon, Water, and Waste (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm), the Extravaganza concluded with a networking reception and drawing for door prizes provided be sponsors.
The event was widely attended by individuals and organizations active in promoting clean energy and sustainability, with representatives from the university and business communities who highlighted important and innovative approaches to sustainability, clean energy, achieving zero waste, and resource efficiency. Exhibitors included: Advanced Biofuels USA, AECOM, AF Global, Armstrong Filtration, Association of Energy Engineers’ National Capital Chapter/CWEEL/University of Maryland Student Chapter, CED Greentech, Clean Energy Business Network, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, Endotherm, Leaders in Energy, Shannon Enterprises, ThermaXX, Virginia Clean Energy, Vivint Solar, and Water Management.
The networking reception included remarks from LE’s Executive Director, Janine Finnell, who thanked panel participants and speakers, exhibitors and sponsors, and the many attendees and volunteers who made the day such a resounding success. Janine conducted the popular LE “Connections Shoutouts” session which provides the opportunity for attendees to meet one another on topics of mutual interest including jobs, business, and research. Connection topics included the following:
- elevating sustainability brand awareness;
- efficient and easy to use heat-treated reusable insulation for freeze protection;
- employment opportunities in energy policy;
- energy efficiency, sustainability, green/cleantech emerging enterprises;
- integrated net zero energy and other related systems;
- alternative fuels;
- green buildings;
- reducing emissions through flaring and recapturing methane gas;
- consumer energy;
- air quality policy, climate change, and environmental roles;
- food scrap recycling for animal feed options; and
- energy efficiency rebate program management and energy modeling
Next, John Lord, AEE NCC President, expressed what a success the day had been, and began the much-anticipated raffle drawing, which included, among many other prizes, generous restaurant gift certificates, books on energy and sustainability, a solar cook stove, and solar chargers and lamps, courtesy of the many sponsors and exhibitors. In order to enter their names in the prize-drawing, attendees had to visit and receive signatures of at least 5 of the many exhibitors present on the day. There was even a surprise addition to the raffle, with two generous additional gift certificates to sportswear company Nike.
The “Getting to Net Zero” Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza day gave attendees the opportunity to connect with professionals and experts in the clean energy and sustainability community, including those involved in the AEE and Leaders in Energy community as well as university departments, representatives from cleantech and environmental businesses, and, of course, the many other environmentally-minded attendees. The event was especially useful for students and other job seekers interested in the environmental and green technology, policy and services fields.
I had the opportunity to meet with attendees during the networking reception. I caught up with Ryan Block, who I had first met at the previous years’ Extravaganza held at the University of Maryland. Ryan, who has recently graduated from his Master’s program in Energy Policy at the University of Maryland, told me that “it was exciting to see all of the initiatives from the university panel and the business panel geared towards sustainability.” He also added that as a recent graduate looking for opportunities as an energy policy analyst, “the networking opportunities were extremely helpful.”
Smita Chandra Thomas, Principal at Energy Shrink, commented that “the highlight for me was hearing from so many people on stage in a fast and interesting format, giving us insight into their thoughts that we wouldn’t get from casual small talk.”
Smita added that Energy Shrink is currently looking forward to building upon its past successes by partnering with other firms this year to bid on projects and programs with goals for high-performance buildings.
Silvia Zinetti, one of the speakers on the morning’s CWEEL panel, commented that she “really enjoyed the reception and the day overall. It was really great to see so many individuals, organizations, and businesses getting together for a common goal.” She added on behalf of her organization, Virginia Clean Energy, one of the exhibitors at the event, that “we were happy to be present with our table and as speaker on the panel, and be able to share with the audience what Community Choice Aggregation is and how the business model can be beneficial to both universities and businesses in achieving their environmental goals, and to the entire community as well.” She also told me that Virginia Clean Energy is currently working on a project in partnership with the American Geophysical Union, and readers can learn more here. Virginia Clean Energy is also looking for a sponsoring partner or pro-bono help to produce a “Study on Legal and Regulatory Implications for the Establishment of a Community Choice Aggregation in Virginia”.
After a long and exciting day, the 5th Annual Extravaganza ended on a high note, with over 150 attendees throughout the day taking advantage of all the opportunities Leaders in Energy and partners had to offer. It’s clear why this annual event has become one of the most anticipated of the year, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s!
Miriam Aczel is a President’s Scholar PhD Candidate at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy. Her research is on international energy science and policy, with a focus on mitigation of environmental and health impacts of shale gas, as well as citizen science and public participation mechanisms. She is also co-founder and co-director of the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics, a nonprofit supporting educational programs in Cambodia and beyond.
Miriam is Director of Communications and blog editor for Leaders in Energy.