James Mandel

Managing Director
  • Buildings

James (Jamie) Mandel is a Managing Director at Rocky Mountain Institute, working in the electricity practice. He focuses on disruptive and emerging technologies, including solar, storage, smart controls, and microgrids. Highlights of this work include economic analysis of solar and battery systems, analysis of the value of distributed storage to reduce grid costs, and developing business models based on flexible demand resources. Jamie also plays a leadership role in RMI’s work with communities, which includes the city of Fort Collins. RMI worked with Fort Collins Utilities to develop a new, customer-centric business model and with the City to develop and pass a plan to reduce 80% of its emissions by 2030.


From 2009-2013, James was an engagement manager at McKinsey and Company in Philadelphia. James served Fortune 500 companies in energy, chemicals, manufacturing, and high tech sectors on operational and strategic issues. He was also a fellow in the Sustainability and Resource Productivity practice focused on efficient manufacturing in process-based industries, as well as developing new sustainability business lines. In addition to working with companies, James also served city, state, and federal agencies on large-scale transformations.

From 2004-2009, James earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University, focusing on animal movement patterns in response to changes in weather. Concurrently, James served as an associate with Advanced Conservation Strategies, a non-profit devoted to developing market-based solutions to conservation challenges. From 2002-2004, James worked for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama as Systems Manager for an Automated RadioTelemetry System (ARTS) for tracking rainforest animals.


Princeton University, Bachelor of Arts, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (2002)
Cornell University, Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (2009),
Minor (2-year traineeship) in nonlinear dynamics and systems thinking


Basalt, CO



Authored Works
Outlet Blog Post

Next-Generation Controls: The Missing Link of High-Performing Buildings

With many exciting advances in data analytics, machine learning, grid integration, user interaction, and renewable energy technologies entering the buildings industry, it is easy to get caught up in the vision and potential of high-performance buildings. The unfortunate reality is that many buildings designed to high-performance standards struggle to deliver…

Outlet Blog Post

Catalyzing the Market for Automated Emissions Reduction

Download the charrette report: Catalyzing the Market for Automated Emissions Reduction In March, Rocky Mountain Institute and our partners convened more than 60 stakeholders from across the electricity industry for two days in Chicago to explore the potential for a new and promising technology: automated emissions reduction, or…

Outlet Blog Post

Why We Still Need To Discuss Grid Defection

The rapidly declining costs of distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) and behind-the-meter batteries, have introduced new dynamics into a traditionally slow-moving electricity industry. This paradigm shift has ushered us into a new era where previous assumptions about how, where, and at what scale electricity is best…

Outlet Blog Post

Combating Climate Change by Measuring Carbon Emissions Correctly

Guest Author Gavin McCormick is co-founder and executive director of WattTime. Carbon emissions are arguably the most important thing for our society to learn how to manage in the coming years. The largest single source of U.S. carbon emissions is our electricity system. And yet, we do not measure emissions…

Outlet Blog Post

Capturing the Full Benefits of Demand Flexibility

Demand flexibility—allowing household devices like HVAC systems and smart appliances to interact with the electric grid in response to real-time price changes—can save customers money and lower the overall cost of electricity. In our recent paper, The Economics of Demand Flexibility, we analyzed the economics of making common…