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Cara Carmichael



  • Buildings

Cara’s background in both architecture and engineering has served as the cross disciplinary foundation for her passion of working on strategic energy design and master planning in buildings and portfolios. Cara helped shape the strategic creation and operation of the RetroFit Initiative within RMI. She led the content development and launch of the RetroFit Depot, an online industry resource about deep retrofits – benefits, processes, case studies and tools to prove the economic viability of deep commercial building retrofits. She continues to lead an effort focused on implementing a deep retrofit business model within Energy Service Companies and targeted architectural, engineering and consulting firms. Coupled with her ability to create high-level net zero energy masterplans and deep retrofit value propositions, Cara enjoys working at a tangible, project level to apply integrative design solutions and turn theory into practice on actual projects.

Currently, she is leading RMI’s efforts to design a new, next generation deep green headquarters for RMI in Basalt Colorado. She is applying Integrated Project Delivery and quantifying some of the value beyond energy cost savings the building will provide to create a replicable process and financial model for other small building owners to follow. A few of her other recent projects include Ford’s Green Dealership program, GSA Net Zero Renovation Challenge and working with a global healthcare company to create a net zero energy roadmap for one of their R&D campuses based on the principles of aggressive efficiency and finding the most cost effective balance point between energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy generation.


Prior to joining RMI in 2005, Cara worked at ENSAR Group, a sustainable design consulting firm, providing general sustainable design consulting, energy modeling and analysis, daylight modeling and analysis, charrette development and LEED consulting. She consulted on a variety of projects including K-12 schools, universities and national park facilities, and she assisted with the development of sustainable design guidelines locally and internationally. Cara also managed project data for an in-depth laboratory case study evaluated by the Green Building Tool, an international green building rating system. She has managed the LEED process for over 15 certified projects including the LSR Preserve (which achieved LEED NC v2.1 Platinum), the Hawaii Gateway Energy Center (LEED NC v2.1 Platinum), the University of Denver College of Law (LEED NC v2.1 Gold) and the University of Colorado Memorial Center (LEED EB Silver).


Masters of Civil Engineering, Building Systems Engineering, University of Colorado, 2009
Bachelors of Environmental Design, University of Colorado, 2003


Boulder, CO

Authored Blog Posts

Reducing Energy Costs in Federal Buildings

U.S. federal buildings make up the largest portfolio of buildings in the world. Ranging from offices to military bases to national labs, they not only provide space for hundreds of thousands of federal employees to provide critical services to our country, but also represent a significant opportunity to save energy…

Innovating at RMI’s New Innovation Center

We are less than one month away from moving into our new building. December 14th will be our official first day of work in the RMI Innovation Center. Happy Holidays RMI! We are extremely busy putting the final touches on the interior finishes, the rooftop PV system, and the control…

Taking the bull by the horns

Achieving deep energy retrofits is an essential part of achieving our nation’s energy-use-reduction targets. But we’re not going to get there using the same, tired process that we have been using for the past 20 years. That’s where, surprisingly enough, a federal agency is stepping in and taking the bull by the horns.

Healthcare Giants Leading the Way to Sustainability

Is it possible that a revolution in healthier buildings may be starting with the healthcare sector? Yes! It may seem intuitive, but it is quite refreshing for companies to put their money where their mouth is, which is why it is great news to hear that several healthcare/pharmaceutical companies have committed to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions.