Smart Energy Voices, an SED podcast, features conversations with leaders of the energy transition. In each episode, Smart Energy Decisions founder John Failla digs deep with industry movers and shakers to reveal insights you can learn from in their stories, personalities and visions for the future.
Emissions Reduction by Design, with Ryan Spies
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla introduces Ryan Spies, Vice President of Sustainability at Clayco. As the closing keynote speaker from Smart Energy Decisions’ Renewable Energy Forum, Ryan spoke about addressing emissions reduction through design and the role renewables should play in decarbonization strategies.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Ryan’s role at Clayco [01:52] Focusing on building [03:15] Embodied carbon [06:10] Concrete and steel [08:38] Designing for net-zero Building, materials, and construction account for a massive portion of the energy and emissions associated with everything people do. While the primary focus for emissions reduction has been on operations, the next critical step is to focus on building materials and construction. Clayco builds in ways that make the buildings inherently more energy efficient. Designing this way allows a company’s procurement department to contribute to climate action goals.
Some organizations have goals for electrification and emissions reductions for 2030 and 2040, yet they still have buildings built for natural gas. Many markets will be able to be electrified relatively simply, so preparing for that change makes sense. Geothermal makes sense in various markets as well. While the initial investment may be more costly, operational expenses will be reduced. Another consideration is solar energy, so a building’s design can also include solar panels, while a large roof can offer an incredible solar opportunity. Even if a company isn’t using all the energy provided, the company can contribute to community solar.
Embodied carbon Embodied carbon reduction has taken off in popularity over the last few years. The term encompasses the energy and footprint that goes into a building, from making and using materials to transportation to the site. For most organizations, these components would be considered Scope 3. A long-lasting impact can be had on this level when the changes are made at the designing stage. The impact of changes made in a building’s design will last for decades.
Scope 3 emissions have been receiving more attention lately because new ways of measuring have been created. Life-cycle assessments(LCAs) determine the environmental impact of all stages of a product. The next piece of the LCA is an environmental product declaration, which is essentially a cheat sheet for the carbon footprint of a product. Making an informed decision about manufacturing materials is now easier than ever before.
Using data for better choices Manufacturers are looking for solutions to the two most significant influences on carbon footprint in building: concrete and steel. Clayco’s modelers and architecture firm utilize the available data with an EC3 tool to aggregate all the available PDS. They create a model and enter it into the system to highlight the hot zones and determine where they can make changes.
Not all changes have to cost more. Some decisions are cost-neutral, only requiring a better decision. Everyone is competing on costs. If two products are relatively equal, choosing the manufacturer with the lower footprint will push the higher one to do more. A standard building with standard drywall can show almost a 50% reduction by making smarter choices. These choices are no different than what is done in a renewables plan. Engaging suppliers, experts, and people in this part of the process will result in significant carbon reduction.
Resources & People Mentioned Clayco Zurich North America Headquarters Saint-Gobain to Invest $91 Million in its Montreal Gypsum Plant Connect with Ryan Spies On LinkedIn Ryan Spies leads ESG at Clayco as Vice President of Sustainability. His responsibilities include developing and implementing a holistic strategy to reduce Clayco’s overall carbon footprint, identifying sustainable business opportunities for leadership, and overseeing sustainability practices and tra
City of Cincinnati's Renewable Energy Journey, with Michael Forrester Ep #70
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla introduces Michael Forrester, former Director of Environment and Sustainability for the city of Cincinnati. At SED’s recent Renewable Energy Forum, Michael shared his insights on Cincinnati’s strategy of acting like a corporation that led to implementing its 100 MW PPA.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... The Green Cincinnati Plan [02:32] The city’s motivation [05:37] Energy initiatives [07:51] Municipal solar array [10:37] Monetizing capacity [16:52] What’s next for Cincinnati? [20:11] The Green Cincinnati Plan The city of Cincinnati has ambitious climate goals. Every five years, the city creates a climate action plan called the Green Cincinnati Plan. The most recent plan was completed in 2018 and laid out recommendations to reduce the city’s carbon by 80% by 2050. These goals were created by reaching out to the community and building a document reflecting what they wanted to see in a climate action plan.
The 2018 plan was created by convening over 30 public meetings and receiving over 1,400 public comments. The Green Cincinnati Plan is a plan of action that the city works hard to implement, and approximately 85% of the recommendations laid out in 2018 have been accomplished. The lack of action on the remainder is due to either state policy restrictions or technologies that aren’t yet ready, such as automated vehicles.
Reasons for change The summers in Cincinnati have already risen by two degrees and will rise another six or seven degrees by the end of the century. The environment that the city was initially built for is no more. Rainstorms are intensifying and contain 37% more water than previously. The city’s sewers weren’t designed to manage that much water, causing incidents such as the flooding of the Xavier University soccer field with 12 feet of water.
Cincinnati is a city of seven hills. Those hills are composed of clay soil with no bedrock, causing the soil to slump when it becomes supersaturated. The increase in rainwater is having a significant impact on Cincinnati’s budget. The main transportation artery in the city of Cincinnati, Columbia Parkway, required repair on one of the hills, so the funding for a new police station had to be used for hill repairs instead. The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati has spent over $150 million cleaning up sewer backups in residential basements in the past ten years.
Municipal solar array Because Ohio is a deregulated state, the city of Cincinnati can choose where to source its energy. Utilizing the existing budget, the city set out to reduce its carbon footprint through a 25-megawatt solar array for city operations. The city also wanted to create jobs by ensuring its residents could participate in the construction. Eventually, the project evolved into a 100-megawatt solar array so the city could achieve the cost-saving benefits of scale.
City operations alone weren’t enough, so the city had to figure out how to tap into its residential aggregation program and use that load of 83,000 residents to help achieve scale. The contract is divided into 35 megawatts for city operations and 65 megawatts for residential. The residential portion was all about partnership. The city went to the market and offered its residential accounts in exchange for a company signing a PPA on the city’s behalf. Through a series of contracts, the city of Cincinnati could maintain rights to the RECs and the capacity for the solar array. These efforts protect the city of Cincinnati while also saving it millions of dollars.
Resources & People Mentioned Green Cincinnati Plan - Environment & Sustainability 'A cleaner future.' Officials break ground on Cincinnati's massive new solar array project Vistracorp Dynegy TXU Energy https://www.txu.com/en/business/medium-large-business/sustainable-energy-solutions.aspx Brent Spence Bridge Connect with Michael Forrester
Profiles in Leadership: Dean Mason and the iMasons Climate Accord, with Dean Nelson
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla is joined by Dean Nelson, Founder and Chairman of Infrastructure Masons and CEO of Cato. They discuss the creation of the iMasons Climate Accord and the community efforts for diversity and inclusion, education, sustainability, and technology.
iMasons Climate Accord will present a workshop on "Decarbonizing Data Center Power" at Smart Energy Decisions' Net Zero Forum, September 12-14 in Phoenix. Click here for more information.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Dean’s career journey [02:15] Launching iMasons [05:32] iMasons objectives [07:37] Compounding impact [13:03] The iMasons Climate Accord [17:32] Aligning the industry in labeling standards [25:39] Community and making a difference [30:08] Creating a community Dean started working in the digital infrastructure industry in 2008 when he was at Sun Microsystems. Sun had various communities, but Dean's industry didn't have representation. So he started a group called Data Center Pulse, which rapidly grew to around 7000 people across 66 countries. People all over the world united in their efforts on different projects.
When Dean joined eBay, the work was all-consuming and moving so quickly that he realized he was losing touch with his community. When he left eBay to take a sabbatical touring colleges with his daughter, he decided he wanted to bring his friends back together. Dean called nine people and asked for their thoughts, opinions, and ideas about how to make a community again but to do it a little differently. Now the iMasons community has 7,500 people participating in over 130 countries.
Collaboration of perspectives As a professional association run by members, iMasons’ key objectives are diversity inclusion, education, sustainability, and technology. At an event, company names are kept out of the equation. People sit together and have working sessions without knowing which company they’re helping or which is helping them. Instead, each table spends a set amount of time working on the same issue. This environment has become one of the best consulting groups because of so many perspectives coming together. Even competitors sit at the same table and work together.
The key is that iMasons aggregates and amplifies the incredible work from its members and their companies. That’s what allows it to succeed. The organization doesn’t drive and create a product. Instead, it enables the community to come together and compound its impact.
The motivation of the iMasons Climate Accord With temperatures rising, global warming, and various other climate issues, the advisory council at iMasons recognized that progress wasn’t moving quickly enough. Dean called one of the board advisory members, Christian Belady, and they gathered together 40 people who have some of the largest portfolios in the world. They spent six hours at that event creating pages and pages of content. After summarizing all the ideas, they all agreed they were aligned on carbon reduction. The result was the creation of the iMasons Climate Accord on Earth Day 2020.
Carbon reduction is a great goal, but having a standard carbon accounting methodology would be necessary for people to align. Finding or creating that standard became iMasons’ goal. If there were a common methodology or marking on products, better purchase decisions could be made based on carbon history. Also, companies will know exactly where they stand from a carbon standpoint.
Resources & People Mentioned Infrastructure Masons Just Let Me Learn Foundation Christian Belady | LinkedIn iMasons Climate Accord will present a workshop on "Decarbonizing Data Center Power" at Smart Energy Decisions' Net Zero Forum, September 12-14 in Phoenix. Click here for more information. Connect with Dean Nelson On LinkedIn Company website Dean Nelson is a seasoned technology executive with 32 years of experience deploying $10B of digital infrastr
Leading from Within, with Amy Bond
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla introduces the opening keynote speaker from Smart Energy Decisions’ recent Renewable Energy Forum, Amy Bond. Amy is the Sustainability Sourcing Manager at T-Mobile. In her talk, she presents actionable tips for navigating obstacles to success in implementing sustainability strategies, including her experience in executing Sprint’s first virtual power purchase agreement.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Sustainability career in 2008 [02:45] Who is T-Mobile? [05:55] Overcoming misunderstandings [07:56] Challenges vs. opportunities [12:41] DiCE platform [15:34] The ability to influence [17:58] Be prepared to lead [22:16] Who is T-Mobile? T-Mobile is America’s fastest and largest 5g network and the second-largest telecommunications provider. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile is supported by about 75,000 full and part-time employees with additional offices in Kansas, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia. The company’s mission is to be the best at connecting its customers to their world.
T-Mobile is the first and only U.S. wireless company to have set a goal to be 100% sourced for electricity from renewables by 2021, which it achieved. When the goal was established in 2018, less than 10% of its energy would have qualified for RE100. In just four years, T Mobile signed 3.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy contracts and spent approximately $3 billion yearly with diverse suppliers.
Diversity in Clean Energy Supplier diversity is a business imperative for T-Mobile and a KPI within its procurement organization. After a conversation between Amy and her account manager at Duke Energy, Cheryl D. Comer, they pulled together a two-day business roundtable discussion with Cheryl’s other corporate accounts. Those discussions drove the formation of the Diversity in Clean Energy (DiCE) coalition, initially supported by Duke Energy, T-Mobile, Kroger, GM, and Microsoft. The coalition has a visionary outcome to advocate and open doors for diverse-owned businesses that operate within the clean energy value chain.
This platform will provide a way for minority business enterprises to elevate and market themselves to clean energy buyers. The platform is interactive and is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2022.
Overcoming miscommunication Every energy project has obstacles, and T-Mobile’s projects were no exception. One of the most significant obstacles is the miscommunication of a project or initiative. When leading a project within an organization, this issue often occurs due to misunderstanding the information the audience already has. When Amy joined the T-Mobile Energy and Sustainability Team, the company had only one community solar program. Amy thought that approach could be optimized to realize significant savings that could then be used towards purchasing renewable energy certificates. While T-Mobile’s portfolio contains many different technologies, geographies, and sizes, there was still a gap between the renewable energy certificates these projects generated and what was needed to meet the company’s renewable energy goal.
That gap left the company purchasing non-project REC, so why not use community solar savings to offset that cost? Initially, Amy received considerable pushback because the company’s previous experience was of lengthy negotiations with relatively small results. So she shifted her focus to finding ways to address these concerns and devised a new strategy that would reduce the execution timeline by more than half. What had taken over a year with one supplier for five projects now took only six months for 32 additional agreements. Reducing the impact of misunderstandings requires listening for pre-existing biases to find workarounds for a project.
Resources & People Mentioned Simran Sethi Cheryl D. Comer Duke Energy Beyond the Meter - Episode 17: Collaborating to Drive Diversity in Clean
SED's Sustainability Plan, with Alexandra Failla
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla introduces Alexandra Failla, Director of ESG and Administration at Smart Energy Decisions. Alexandra shares SED’s first Sustainability Report, which reflects SED’s commitment to align its actions and operations with The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We hope you’ll enjoy it, and we welcome your feedback.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Walking the walk [02:41] SED’s mission and values [03:53] Understanding environmental impact [05:27] Environmental opportunities [06:53] Social opportunities [08:15] Operating with integrity and fairness [08:40] Establishing sustainability goals Helping others achieve their sustainability goals has been vital to Smart Energy Decisions’ business since its inception, and the time has come for SED to establish its own sustainability goals. With this Sustainability Report, SED is proud to be the first energy-focused, business-to-business media company to showcase its progress across environmental, social, and governance sustainability dimensions.
This report was created to outline SED’s activities thus far and demonstrate commitment to sustainable development. Establishing an emissions inventory provides a starting point for planning future reductions and finding efficiencies, innovation, and risk management opportunities. SED intends to monitor its progress over time using KPIs.
Environmental impact opportunities Helping others navigate the energy transition is central to the mission and values of Smart Energy Decisions. The sustainability report details its sustainability initiatives and opportunities for improvement through the ESG framework. The report also discusses the markets that SED serves and covers environmental, social, and governance factors. This first sustainability report also focuses on the elements of SED’s business that have the most opportunities for positive impact. These topics were selected after thoughtful consideration of the organization’s stakeholder priorities and their alignment with The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
While the SED supports all of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SED’s first sustainability report highlights how several of these goals align with business goals. Also outlined is how SED engages with its stakeholder community by listening, collaborating, and informing existing stakeholders through numerous methods. Stakeholder engagement helps SED proactively serve the needs and desires of its community, fostering trust, confidence, and buy-in for initiatives. This commitment to stakeholder engagement helps mitigate risk and potential conflicts in the strategic planning process.
Social impact and moving forward While Smart Energy Decisions is working to reduce the impact of its environmental footprint in the future, it’s proud of what it has accomplished in the work and social component of ESG. SED’s Inspiring Diversity in Energy Series and other efforts have paved the way for others to follow in addressing this critical issue in the energy industry. SED has prioritized various social impact efforts by educating the community and providing financial assistance to organizations aligned with SED in values.
Smart Energy Decisions holds itself accountable to operate with integrity and fairness. The report outlines plans for the vendor and site selection process, customer privacy, workplace equality, and SED’s advisory board. In the future, SED aims to work with hotels and suppliers that are aligned with its sustainability goals by establishing a screening process to source vendors. SED is also working to increase the representation of minorities and women on its advisory board and as speakers at SED events. Smart Energy Decisions is excited about its new sustainability report and continuing to help companies navigate the energy transition in a sustainable manner.
Women in Energy, with Creshona Armwood, Jordan Calverley, Monica Ferrer, and Kourtney Nelson
In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla introduces Creshona Armwood, Jordan Calverley, Monica Ferrer, and Kourtney Nelson from a panel at Smart Energy Decisions’ recent Innovation Summit conducted in concert with the inaugural Women in Smart Energy awards program. The panel was moderated by Smart Energy Decisions’ Director of Editorial and Research, Debra Chanil.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in... Women in Smart Energy award winners [03:04] Working in a male-dominated industry [09:10] The role of mentorship [16:06] Facing bias in the workplace [23:26] Making the room comfortable for everyone [30:35] Asking for help is more than okay [33:58] Celebrating Women in Smart Energy Celebrating underrepresented women’s presence, strength, and accomplishments is a significant opportunity for the energy industry. That’s the focus of Smart Energy Decisions’ Women in Smart Energy (WISE) awards program. Until recently, most women started their careers in this field through sustainability. As that narrow pathway widens, so will the inclusion and presence of women in the space in more industry functions, including energy procurement and management.
A big part of income inequality between males and females is because salaries aren’t discussed. That’s due to talking about money being culturally uncomfortable. Making those conversations more normal will help with the pay disparity. Discussing wages is a way to remove ambiguity. Having a good network of people to talk to about job offers and opportunities helps in the salary negotiation process.
The role of mentorship Mentorship can come from anywhere, not just within your own organization. The goal isn’t simply to have someone who can help you navigate internal organizational policies and politics. Mentors can be peers or people from outside of your company or even your field. Also, the feedback received isn’t always going to come through the formality of mentorship. Trusted advisors in the workspace can be a good source of constructive criticism.
There are times when a mentor can even go above and beyond by advocating and using leadership positions to speak up about issues that other people can’t. Being willing to do that can be an incredible help in the careers of young people and especially women. Trust is imperative when preparing to be a mentor. The mentor needs to be able to provide the individual being mentored with advice and address concerns and needs. Sometimes those conversations go well beyond the professional realm and into topics such as work and life balance. Being willing to serve as a mentor in those situations means extra consideration must be given to acquiring the skill sets needed to address all of the issues that may surface.
Overcoming bias Overcoming bias in the workplace also requires preparation. While the culture is changing, there is still work to be done. It’s not uncommon that when a woman walks into a room of men, there is an assumption that she doesn’t belong there. It’s important to be careful that those assumptions don’t become stereotypical conclusions. Being prepared means someone knowing that she is qualified, knowing she has much to contribute, and knowing that she belongs. Those concepts will bring about the confidence that will allow her to cut through those biases.
Because there haven’t been that many women in the energy space, male coworkers naturally aren’t used to women being there. The responsibility doesn’t entirely fall on men to help women be comfortable. Men will sometimes need help learning how to be comfortable working with women. One way to do that is by being mindful of who the combined audience is. Helping each other will benefit everyone, and some issues will fix themselves through that awareness process.
Resources & People Mentioned WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game Connect with Creshona Armwood On Linked