As a vice president at Proof Strategies who oversees many of our agency’s sustainability clients, I recently had the honor and the pleasure of attending a meeting at the White House on combating climate change effects and sustainability. Business leaders from across the nation gathered to hear from administration experts about programs already in progress (such as promoting energy efficiency and developing alternatives to carbon-based energy) and new initiatives in the works. Part of the reason for reaching out to businesses about these ongoing and new programs is because the government wants help and support from the private sector in creating technology and other solutions for meeting sustainability goals.
Many topics were discussed to share long-term initiatives and highlight upcoming plans to address climate change. President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the Clean Power Plan, with the goal of reducing carbon pollution from power plants. The plan sets standards for power plants and customized state goals for reducing carbon pollution (the primary driver of climate change).
Representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) shared additional information about programs addressing climate change. Dr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science & Energy at DOE, spoke on their “portfolio of investments” in a variety of research and technologies applying to alternative energy options. All 17 laboratories under the DOE generate ideas for potential in the marketplace. Their loan office also provides cutting-edge loans that have supported the growth of solar panel installations in the U.S.
For progressing on energy conservation, Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at DOE, shared background on the Better Buildings program for commercial and residential construction. The program demonstrates energy savings and shares best practices with the building industry. Across the nation, 12 cities are looking at reporting on building performance to help set goals and strive for improvement. Additionally, the Home Energy Score tool is being used by multiple listing services to share energy efficiency information with home buyers.
Improving grid integration and the efficiency of utilities is another growing trend. Chris Irwin, Manager for the Transactive Energy Program at DOE, talked about the transformation from a one-way network (utility sends energy) to a two-way network where consumers can send energy (from solar, wind etc.) and information about consumption back to the utility. Part of this work involves standardizing information across the grid so that consumers can easily understand their own data and make changes to conserve.
Brian Deese, Assistant to the President & Senior Advisor, brought home the message that the President believes we need to adapt to climate change. The approach embraces economy-wide solutions with public—private partnerships. “Technology drives innovation” and the market will help move the world forward in meeting the challenges of climate change.
This event was not only educational about the variety of programs the government has been supporting to address climate change effects using diverse approaches, but also a warm welcome to partner with businesses interested in developing technology, networks, and other solutions to tackle goals. Communicating with stakeholders is a strategic choice for engaging others in innovative programs and partnering to maximize strengths when addressing the global challenge of combating climate change.