A Spotlight on Energy Changemakers

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is on a mission to transform the way that the world uses energy. I’m proud to be one of about 250 people at RMI working toward a low-carbon future that’s clean, prosperous, and secure for all.

Throughout RMI’s 37 year history, our organization has become well known for iconic, innovative projects that make good business sense: including penning the influential book Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, conducting the deep energy retrofit of the Empire State Building, and opening America’s first net-zero energy offices in Boulder and Basalt, Colorado, to name just a few examples.

Now in 2019, RMI’s work has expanded globally to Africa, Asia, the UK, South America, and Caribbean Islands, where our experts leverage research and collaboration to help entire economies transition to clean energy. My favorite projects include the Global Cooling Prize, an innovation competition to develop and scale a climate-friendly residential cooling solution that’s five-times more energy efficient; convening green bank experts and climate finance representatives from 23 countries at the Green Bank Design Summit in Paris; and our work with Save the Children and the Kinesis Foundation to provide reliable, renewable power to help schools in Puerto Rico recover from impacts of the 2017 hurricane season.

It’s clear that there is no silver bullet solution for the climate crisis. It will take innovation and collaboration between leaders from all countries and sectors, at all levels, with diverse skill sets and cultural backgrounds, to make the bold and ambitious changes that will make every part of our global economy sustainable.

Our recent Instagram campaign highlighted the #EnergyImpact of extraordinary changemakers who work with RMI to lead on the energy transition. We interviewed partners from fields of private equity investment, aviation, city government, and more to highlight leaders who are driving impact in their fields. We found out why this work is meaningful to them and what gives them hope.

Their responses were truly inspiring—here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Antha N. Williams, leader of the environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies: Under Williams’ direction, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports environmental initiatives to improve sustainability of cities around the world, to accelerate the transition to clean energy, and to combat overfishing and protect coral reefs. RMI partners with Bloomberg Philanthropies to lead the American Cities Climate Challenge, a program that helps 25 winning cities significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents. RMI provides technical support and expertise for these projects.When asked why she is passionate about her work, Williams acknowledges the climate challenge with a bright outlook, “It can be easy to get bogged down in fear about the future and how different it might look for our children. But when I look at my two daughters, I am optimistic about the possibility of a different world for them—one that is powered not by fossil fuels, but by clean, sustainable, renewable energy. That’s why I’m so encouraged by the clean energy transition—it’s ensuring a safe and healthy planet for the next generation and for generations to come.”
  • Jean Michele-Parle, systems development engineer at St. Lucia’s utility, LUCELEC: From a young age, Jean-Michel Parle has always had an appreciation for renewable energy and the environment. As a teenager, he thought renewable energy was cutting-edge and empowering for its facilitation of both self-sufficiency and environmental responsibility.Now, as a systems development engineer for Saint Lucia’s utility, LUCELEC, Jean-Michel works with Rocky Mountain Institute to implement renewable energy and sustainability on the island. His work with RMI includes the development and implementation of the island’s first solar farm, the launch of the Caribbean’s first National Energy Transition Strategy, and analysis for the utility’s first battery energy storage system.
  • Erin Cooke, sustainability director at San Francisco Airport (SFO): Aviation currently represents 2 percent of global emissions and remains the most difficult sector to decarbonize. That’s why Cooke and the SFO team set a strategic plan goal to hit zero— zero net energy, zero waste, and carbon neutrality—by 2021 as a bold climate commitment to both respond to the ambitions of their environmentally-minded passengers and bring on new operational partners. “Stabilizing and sustaining our planet matters to our passengers and it matters to us. That’s why San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has made the bold commitment to hit zero—zero net energy, zero waste, and carbon neutrality by 2021.”

In addition to sharing the latest news and facts on energy and climate, we plan to celebrate more of the incredible movers and shakers who are making a tangible #EnergyImpact on RMI’s social media channels in the future.

Stay tuned—follow RMI on Instagram for more daily positive clean energy inspiration!

Originally published on Virgin.com