Celebrating Visionary Partners

As Rocky Mountain Institute approaches its 30th anniversary in 2012, we are excited to join in celebrating other forward thinking, innovative organizations that share our commitment to the efficient and restorative use of our natural resources.

Last month, I was proud to attend the Catawba College Center for the Environment’s 15th anniversary celebration—held on its Salisbury, North Carolina, campus. As a supporter and member of the Center’s Advisory Board, I joined Catawba administrators, professors, other board members and supporters to celebrate 15 years of vision and work that have truly been ahead of their time.

Fifteen years ago, being “green” was not a common priority, yet in 1996 the Center was founded to provide education and outreach about the environment and to foster community-oriented sustainable solutions. Twelve years ago before LEED building standards were established, the Center set its sights on a beautiful, highly efficient building, and began construction on one of the greenest buildings in the state—completing the 21,000-square-foot facility 10 years ago, overlooking the college’s 189-acre preserve.

This extraordinary building project was funded by the late Elizabeth Stanback. Her son Fred Stanback and his wife, Alice, continue the legacy of environmental stewardship. The Stanbacks’ support of the Center (both as donors and Fred’s role on the advisory board), of RMI, and many other worthy organizations is a strong testament to their dedicated commitment to making the world a better place.

Dr. John Wear, Director of Catawba College’s Center for the Environment, Marty Pickett and Fred Stanback at the November 9 reception

The Center and RMI have quite a bit in common. Developing meaningful partnerships and working effectively with businesses to bring about change is a goal the Center has in common with RMI. For example, in a time when job opportunities for college graduates are scarce, the Center is leading a program—Catawba College Energy Corps—that places 17 students or recent graduates in positions with green energy-related businesses throughout North Carolina. 

Local business leaders Mark Seifel with Schneider Electric, and Clarence Beaver of Beaver Brothers Heating and Air attended the anniversary celebration

A joint effort between RMI and the Center—Redesigning Our Future: A National Environmental Summit for High School Students—which brought together almost 200 students from 15 states, displayed our shared commitment to environmental leadership and the importance of whole-systems-thinking in problem solving.

""Finally, the power of convening—which has been a hallmark of RMI’s most successful projects—is an important strength that both organizations share. The Center brings forward thinking leaders like RMI’s Amory Lovins, Lester Brown, Fred Krupp and CNN Hero Doc Hendley to standing-room-only audiences.

“The Center for the Environment is so special because of the people and partners it draws to them like Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the most revered, intelligent organizations that we have in our country when it comes to thinking about energy and our future,” Center advisory board member and director of the North Carolina Department of Commerce State Energy Office Larry Shirley said during a toast.

RMI is proud to continue to collaborate with the Center and, as a native to North Carolina, I am delighted to have this active group in the state helping move environmental solutions to scale. On behalf of everyone at RMI, I send congratulations to Dr. John Wear and the team at the Center for the Environment for 15 years of inspired accomplishments. We look forward to celebrating many more.