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Ramullu Dappu helps pick cucumbers inside of a greenhouse in Laxmapur, Telangana in India. The greenhouse is part of a project by Kheyti, a Northwestern-backed social enterprise that develops solutions to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. For more, see page 8



ne of the most exciting elements of the sustainability and energy sector is the dynamism of innovation. The past year has been no exception. The Tesla Nevada Gigafactory began mass cell production earlier this year, purportedly producing more batteries than any other factory in the world. Furthermore, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, is already working on three new gigafactories, and ultimately plans for 10–20 total. Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory has allowed Musk to make some jaw-dropping promises. In March, Musk pitched a $50 million, 100-megawatt battery installation — the world’s largest — to help stabilize South Australia’s wind-reliant grid. What’s more, he committed to do it in 100 days from contract signature, or Tesla would do it for free. Musk is also in early conversations with the Governor of Puerto Rico to assist in rebuilding the island’s power grid after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Tesla isn’t the only manufacturer making bold moves. General Motors — the largest US automaker — will produce 20 new electric vehicle (EV) models (up from one) by 2023, eventually phasing out the internal combustion engine entirely. Volvo, Mercedes Benz, and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to electrify their entire fleets even sooner, while Ford, Toyota,

Daimler, and VW Group are all making multibillion-dollar investments. Major business decisions aren’t made in a vacuum, but rather in the context of global public policy. France and the UK will ban sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2040. China has announced similar intentions, and California is considering the move. Although EVs still only represent 0.2 percent of light-duty passenger vehicles worldwide, clear policy signposts are creating massive change — quickly — in a trillion-dollar industry. Of course, not all policy change signals progress. Recent decisions by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, roll back mandates under the Clean Power Plan, and slash budgets for the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, may thwart recent gains in renewables penetration and reductions in the US carbon footprint. It remains to be seen if these federal actions are a bump in the road, or a more serious domestic retrenchment, but either way, other public and private leaders are filling the void (see “Leading the Charge,” pg. 14). It’s clear that the dynamic intersection of technology, business, and policy is shaping our future sustainability and energy landscape. The Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN) was chartered as an


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EDITORS Demetria Giannisis Jeff Henderson Mike M. McMahon Monika Wnuk

PHOTOGRAPHY India Bulkeley Janice Cantieri Rob Hart

enterprise-wide institute, seamlessly connecting the University’s multidisciplinary expertise across natural and social sciences, engineering, business, policy, law, and communications, to innovate at this very intersection. Public discourse around climate change is a timely example of the need for this multidisciplinarity. While there is overwhelming scientific consensus that the Earth is warming, and that anthropogenic emissions are largely responsible for these changes, only 53 percent of the US population agrees. To address this gap, ISEN's Ubben Program for Climate and Carbon Science funds research not only in climate science, but in the science of climate communication (See “Myth and the Media,” pg. 30). In a similar vein, for the first time, our annual Northwestern Climate Change Symposium, convening November 9–10, 2017, will feature concurrent science, business, and policy tracks addressing the complexities of climate change solutions. As always, we invite our readers, across the nation and around the world, to be a part of this crucial conversation. With Warm Regards, Michael R. Wasielewski ISEN Executive Director

G. Everett Lasher Morgan Levey Mike M. McMahon Project Ouidah Solar Decathalon, US Department of Energy Scott Strazzante Monika Wnuk Jim Ziv Margot Zuckerman

@ISENatNU © 2017 Northwestern University. All rights reserved.

I L L U S T R AT I O N Andrea DeSantis Amanda Holl Bernd Schifferdecker

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Direct Questions to: Monika Wnuk ISEN Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

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Leading the Charge Businesses, state and local governments undeterred in aiming for climate targets

22 Powering the Future Career-based learning for students entering the new energy economy


Risk and Reward The insurance sector on the climate frontlines


Myth and the Media Understanding public skepticism of climate change












Beyond the pages of this magazine, the discussion continues online at and over social media at @ISENatNU. We’ll meet you there.

news roundup Linking Prices at the Pump with Public Health


recent study published in Nature Communications found that as the price of ethanol rose in São Paulo, so did the concentration of ultrafine particles in the air. The research also found that when prices fell and São Paulo drivers made the switch back to ethanol, the concentration of ultrafine particles also went down. These particles, less than 50 nanometers in diameter (a human hair is 75,000 nanometers), go unmeasured by environmental agencies and unregulated around the world. Yet, independent studies have shown their adverse effects on human health. The multidisciplinary team conducted a regression analysis of traffic, consumer behavior, aerosol particle size, and meteorological data from January 2011 through May 2011. The data studied was from before, during, and after the time of a major fuel switch due to a large fluctuation in ethanol prices. While the study focused on São Paulo, the findings have applications in many North American cities, including Chicago, says Franz Geiger, professor of chemistry at Northwestern. Additionally, studies such as this one may be used by lawmakers to incentivize competitive pricing of ethanol in places like Brazil, where gasoline prices are controlled by the government, and in the US, which established its first national renewable fuel standard in 2005.

New Material Strips Toxic Pollutant from Drinking Water


Northwestern researcher has discovered a cheap and renewable material to extract perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) acid, a highly toxic pollutant, from drinking water. PFOA has been used in the production of Teflon and other industrial processes, and


is known for being persistent and longlasting in the environment. It has forced some communities worldwide to shut off their drinking water supplies. To remove PFOA from drinking water, Will Dichtel, the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern, proposes introducing a polymer that contains PFOA-binding sites that effectively strip

the pollutant from the water. With only a modest amount used, the material has more than 10 times the affinity for PFOA than activated carbon, which is the conventional treatment method for contaminant extraction. It can also be regenerated and reused multiple times. Dichtel’s polymer technology is being developed for commercial use by CycloPure, Inc., a company he also founded.

Cash for Carbon: A Cost-effective Way to Reduce Deforestation


aying landowners to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions, and should be a key part of the global strategy to fight climate change, according to a recent Northwestern study. The research, led by Seema Jayachandran, associate professor of economics at Northwestern, sought to evaluate how effective “Payments for Ecosystems” (PES) are at reducing deforestation. PES programs are initiatives in which people are given financial rewards for pro-environmental behaviors. In the study, people who owned forest in 60 villages in western Uganda were given cash rewards if they refrained from deforesting. Forest owners in another 61 villages in western Uganda received no monetary incentives. This is the first study in which PES programs have been tested with a control group. “We found that the program had very large impacts on forest cover,” Jayachandran said. “In the villages without the program, 9 percent of the tree cover that was in place at the start of the study was gone by the end of it, two years later. In the villages with the PES program, there was only 4 to 5 percent tree loss.” Payments amounted to half of the estimated climate benefits of retaining forest cover, demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of the intervention. empower

Early Innovation Shines for Two Northwestern-Exelon Projects


aunched in May of 2016, the NorthwesternExelon Master Research Agreement established an initial five-year research funding pool around grid management and resilience, energy storage, and renewables technologies. The partnership with Exelon, the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, was formed to accelerate the process for evaluating, testing, and scaling scientific discoveries made in Northwestern labs for commercial-scale implementation. Since its inception, the partnership has launched two, three-year research projects. Mark Hersam, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is tackling two of the biggest impediments to greater market penetration of lithium-ion technologies — stability and charge time — with the goal of reducing charge time from several hours to as low as ten minutes.

“It takes a few minutes to refuel an internal combustion engine, compared to the few hours it takes to recharge an electric vehicle. Therefore, if we increase battery charging rates by a factor of ten, the charging time becomes comparable to refueling your car,” Hersam says. Michael R. Wasielewski, Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry, aims to enhance solar cell performance from 33 to 45 percent using singlet fission and self-assembly fabrication. “At Northwestern, we have the expertise to selfassemble molecules into larger structures that have a specific order, and we also have experience in solar cell fabrication,” says Wasielewski. “The project is designed to be primarily translational and will help us determine whether our materials will really work in the context of a prototype solar cell.”

Northwestern Partners Lead on Climate

There are no borders to carbon. It is our corporate duty to fight climate change triggered by carbon emissions. This means cutting our emissions 50 percent by 2050, by being three times more energy efficient. We must act now for a better future.” — Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO Schneider Electric


he Nature Conservancy and Schneider Electric, both members of ISEN’s executive council, have joined the Climate Leadership Council (CLC). The CLC is an international policy institute whose mission is to mobilize global opinion leaders around a carbon dividends framework as the most cost-effective, equitable, and politically viable climate solution. The Council works in collaboration with leaders in business, opinion, and the environment.

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

Both companies were among more than two dozen corporations, nonprofits, and distinguished individuals to sign on as founding members of the CLC. “Climate change is already impacting our communities, our economy, and our environment, and those impacts will continue to grow and become worse if we don’t act now. We can’t afford to wait to have these conversations,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy in an official press release.


global spotlights Kenya: Best Foot Forward


n Malindi, Kenya, lack of opportunity often prevents women from finding gainful employment. Best Foot Forward (BFF) is a sustainable social enterprise that empowers female African shoe artisans by linking their high-quality goods to US markets. Founder and CEO Caleigh Hernandez (WCAS ’15) developed the idea for her business during two college summers abroad engaging artisans in conversations about their business needs — everything from skills training to support services for working mothers. To launch her business while at Northwestern studying political science and international studies, Hernandez worked with ISEN to pitch her idea to the Clinton Global Initiative

Benin: Project Ouidah


n western Africa, students at a school for refugees lack access to clean water. Because its on-site well is contaminated, the school is instead forced to rely on the delivery of bottled water to its remote location in Ouidah, Benin. But members of the Northwestern chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World are working to change that. As part of an initiative known as Project Ouidah, the multidisciplinary team from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science is developing a water filtration system that uses evaporation to purify water from the school’s well. The team is partnering with Bras Ouverts-Open Arms, the NGO that runs the school in Ouidah, and plans to expand the project to also include improvements to the school’s power and waste management infrastructures.


University (CGI U) program, an ideas-to-action initiative of the Clinton Foundation for university students. CGI U awarded Hernandez $4,000 and access to mentors to grow her enterprise. Since its founding in 2015, BFF’s female artisans have seen their wages increase by 125 percent, which is 50 percent more than the industry standard. The company also invests in direct community development initiatives and seeks to provide its artisans with services such as health insurance, childcare, and transportation. BFF currently supports 36 female and 6 male entrepreneurs, as well as one key supplier. In March of 2016, Hernandez received a $25,000 grant from

The Arctic: An Ocean of Noise


ife in the world’s oceans is governed by sound. Due to limited visibility in the water, nearly all marine species rely on sound to communicate, navigate, find food, and mate. But increasing levels of noise — from shipping, oil and gas exploration, naval sonar training, under­ water construction, and other activities —  are drowning out the natural sounds of the ocean. Growing noise pollution has the potential to cause permanent hearing damage in aquatic animals and can disrupt their feeding, breeding, nursing, and communication patterns. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the world’s leading conservation organ­ izations, and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Environmental Advocacy Center (EAC) are working together to better understand how to safeguard Arctic species from noise pollution. The team is con­ducting a rigorous analysis of inter­national and national legislation, regulations, treaties, and guidelines of coastal countries that govern the Artic environ­ment including Canada, the United States, Norway, Russia, the Greenland Kingdom of Denmark, and Iceland. The project, led by EAC faculty and graduate student Natale Fuller (Law ’17), is helping WWF build a litigation and advocacy strategy that identifies best legislative and regulatory practices to address these harmful impacts.

Laos: Land and Resource Management


fter graduating, Christina Cilento (SESP ’17), former Associated Student Government president, decided to take her Northwestern education halfway around the world. Cilento is stationed in Vientiane, Laos as a Luce Program Scholar, an initiative launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among promising leaders in American society. During her year in Laos, Cilento will be working with communities on resource management, forestry, and land rights in the highlands of the country’s southern region. She is partnering with Village Focus International (VFI), a Lao NGO that aims to empower remote, usually ethnic minority, communities by working with them to sustainably manage their land and resources. Cilento will be collaborating with VFI in their work on boundary mapping, land use planning, and educational outreach related to local land rights.

Around the World: In Search of Sustainable Food Systems


arlier this year, Margot Zuckerman, a WCAS student, was notified that she had been afforded the opportunity of a lifetime — a 2017 Circumnavigators TravelStudy Grant. The award, funded jointly by Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research and the Chicago chapter of the Circumnavigators Club, provided funds to help send Zuckerman to six countries on four continents during the summer to research food sustainability. Through her research, Zuckerman sought greater insight into how local food systems can best foster urban food security by


Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

increasing the amount, affordability, health, safety, and resilience of the local food supply. In each city she visited, she conducted in-depth interviews with government officials, business owners, NGO administrators, and grocery store shoppers in order to generate a comparative analysis of best practices and challenges associated with local food systems. Zuckerman, who is majoring in environmental sciences and economics, examined a variety of local food systems, including urban agriculture enterprises, direct producer-consumer distribution networks, and community gardens.





Smallholder Farmers in India Adapt to Climate Change Using High-tech Greenhouses Smallholder farmers in Laxmapur, Telangana, a drought-prone village in south-central India, have been adapting to climate extremes using low-cost, high-tech greenhouses. These structures are made with breathable, aluminum-coated cloth netting that reflects some of the sunlight, reducing the inside temperature. Kheyti greenhouses are also fitted with drip-irrigation systems that have allowed farmers to use about 90 percent less water, on average. Protected cultivation allows these farmers to produce crops year-round, from the hottest, driest summer months of February to May, when temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The greenhouses are part of a project by Kheyti, an Indian social enterprise aimed at developing solutions that allow smallholder farmers to maintain their livelihoods and adapt to climate extremes. Kheyti was co-founded by Saumya (KSM ’17), recipient of the Kellogg Social


Fall 2017: The Climate Issue


Kheyti co-founder Ayush Sharma performs a traditional blessing for Ugadi, the Hindu New Year at the Kheyti Hub Farm in Telangana. A symbolic plowing is meant to bring a good harvest.

Kheyti farmer Saraswati Appala signed up for a greenhouse after seeing how successful her brother-in-law’s crop was in the neighboring greenhouse.


Kheyti is constructing 35 new greenhouses in Laxmapur Village, and has plans to sign on 1,000 farmers by the end of the year. They plan to expand throughout India, being careful to maintain the community trust they’ve built as they scale up.

Kheyti farmers gather weekly to share knowledge and discuss any challenges they are facing with their crops. At this meeting, Kheyti farm manager Srikar Mokkapetti and Kheyti co-founder Sathya Raghu explain the process of planting bell peppers.

Ramullu Dappu helps pick cucumbers inside of a Kheyti greenhouse. During their first four-month growing season, the fifteen Kheyti farmers produced an average of 1.3 tons of cucumbers. The greenhouses reflect some of the sunlight, which keeps the temperature inside cooler.


Fall 2017: The Climate Issue


The Kheyti team, from left: Saumya, Sathya Raghu, Ayush Sharma, former team member Akhil, and Kaushik Kappagantula.

Protected cultivation allows Kheyti farmers to produce year-round, even in the hottest, driest summer months of February to May, when temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.



Fall 2017: The Climate Issue


Leading the Charge

Businesses, state and local governments undeterred in aiming for climate targets — will it be enough?


Adidas Adobe AECOM Airbnb Alexandria, VA Amazon Ameresco Amherst College Apple Arizona State University Atlanta, GA Austin College Autodesk Baltimore, MD BASF Ben and Jerry’s Bloomberg LP Boston, MA CalPERS Charleston SC Chicago, IL Cincinnati, OH Columbia University Cook County, IL Denver, CO Des Moines, IA eBay Edison International Facebook Gap Google Grand Rapids, MI Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston, TX IBM Corporation IKEA NA Services LLC Indianapolis, IN Ingersoll Rand Intel JLL Johnson Controls Kohler Co Lawrence, KS Levi Strauss & Co Little Rock, AR Los Angeles, CA Louisville, KY Loyola University New Orleans Lyft Mars, Inc Microsoft Milwaukee, WI Munich Re Netflix, Inc New York City, NY Nike Northwestern University NRG Energy Ohio University Paypal PG&E Corporation Philadelphia, PA Phoenix, AZ S&C Electric San Francisco, CA Santa Fe, NM Sat Lake City, UT Snap Inc Spotify USA Starbucks Coffee Company Stonyfield Tampa, FL Target Tesla The Hartford The LEGO Group The North Face Twitter Under Armour Unilever University of California System Volvo Group of America Walmart Washington, DC Western Michigan University Yahoo

Select representatives of 2,500+ signatories of the We Are Still In declaration.

The Trump administration continues efforts to repeal laws that mandate lower CO2 emissions, after having withdrawn US support for the Paris climate accord in June. Regardless, American businesses are formulating their own plans to advance clean energy and environmental sustainability, with support from state and local governments. Consider Google, which consumes as much electricity as the city of San Francisco — 5.7 terrawatt hours — over the course of a year. The global tech firm announced that in 2017, it will reach its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy — or, more precisely, purchasing as many green terawatt hours as it consumes annually. Google, the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, has been joined by many other hightech companies including Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon in setting out to become global examples of corporate citizenship, by way of purposeful environmental stewardship. Google says its renewable energy use serves two simultaneous goals; it meets growing consumer demand for products that don’t harm the environment, while achieving corporate financial targets. The levelized cost of wind energy — the unit cost of electricity over a lifetime — is the best energy value there is, the company says. “Wind-power economics are driving coal generation up the dispatch curve and into earlier retirement,” Moody’s analyst Jairo Chung writes in a March 2017 report. “Around 56 gigawatts of regulated coal-fired capacity in the Midwest has operating costs that are higher than the all-in costs of new wind power.” Combined with falling costs for domestic natural gas, coal’s share of the domestic electricity market has decreased from 39 percent in 2014 to approximately 30 percent in 2016 — the first year in which natural gas-fired generation has exceeded that of coal. Although renewables are quickly becoming a low- or least-cost option, local policymaking remains a critical enabler. “The role of state policies has been tremendously important,” says Marsden Hanna (C ’07), Google’s lead for global energy policy and markets. “Renewable portfolio standards create demand (for clean power), and for companies like ours, the policies are all state and local. We do believe it is important, however, that actors at all levels continue to maintain the momentum, including the federal government.”

I was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve US interests. President Donald Trump

As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy, and future. Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA

Wind power economics are driving coal generation up the dispatch curve and into earlier retirement. Around 56 gigawatts of regulated coal-fired capacity in the Midwest has operating costs that are higher than the all-in costs of new wind power. Jairo Chung, analyst at Moody’s

The US stepped away from the Paris accord, but business is not just going to stop. States are stepping up. And the economics will prove these decisions out, because the cost of renewables will continue to come down. Kevin Self (KSM ’91), senior vice president of strategy, business development and government relations at Scheider Electric

The role of state policies has been tremendously important. Renewable portfolio standards create demand, and for companies like ours, the policies are all state and local. We do believe it is important, however, that actors at all levels continue to maintain the momentum, including the federal government. Marsden Hanna (C ’07), Google’s lead global energy policy and markets strategist

The president’s announcement that his administration would pursue formal US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord was immediately answered by the formation of the We Are Still In movement, a coalition of American business, education, and local government leaders committed to maintaining low-carbon goals that are consistent with those previously set in Paris. “The US stepped away from the Paris accord,” says Kevin Self (KSM ’91), senior vice president of strategy, business development, and government relations at Schneider Electric, a France-based Fortune 500 energy management firm. “But business is not going to just stop. States are stepping up. And the economics will prove these decisions out, because the cost of renewables will continue to come down.” MARKED-BASED DEMAND SPURS CRE ATIVE CIT Y STR ATEGIES Fifty-two mayors of C40, a network of cities committed to addressing climate change and 100 percent renewable energy targets, are also taking a united stance. Collectively representing 275 million citizens around the world, C40 says burning fossil fuels is inconsistent with long-term prosperity, and its members aim to achieve the goals of the Paris climate accord. The United States Conference of Mayors supports the same position, with Republican and


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Democratic city leaders vowing to do their part. Reaching those targets will take time. Cities face some of the same supply challenges as do businesses — utilities procure electricity based on the local supply unless their state utility commissions require that they obtain a certain portion of their portfolio from renewable supplies. “Local governments are increasingly striving to become carbon-free, exploring cleaner energy options to build low-carbon communities,” says Lauren Riga, an Indianapolis-based energy analyst in an interview. “However, over 65 percent of electricity produced in the US comes from fossil fuels.” Nonetheless, cities are already making progress by employing long-term power purchase agreements to bring wind and solar into municipal generation portfolios. “We’re going green not only because it supports clean air and water, but because it supports our 21st century economy,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says in an April 2017 Sierra Club press release. The nation’s eighthlargest city, San Diego has passed a legally binding ordinance requiring it to complete its transition to 100 percent green energy and cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035, which will entail converting half the city’s fleet to electric vehicles.


According to a 2016 Sierra Club analysis, if American cities achieve 100 percent renewable energy targets by 2025, resulting electric-sector carbon reductions would greatly help the United States meet the prior Paris accord target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels. To date, 26 US cities have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy, although many are also taking more modest steps to cut their emissions. Cities already running entirely on green energy include Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Greensburg, Kansas; Rockport, Missouri; and Kodiak Island, Alaska. San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Madison all say they plan to hit the same target, and the city of Chicago has announced that it will transition its municipal buildings and operations to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2025. Barriers to reducing emissions are not only technical, but also socioeconomic and political. They are based on key factors like complacency and entrenched financial interests, according to a paper published in Energy & Environmental Science in 2015. The analysis reports that the benefits of conversion to renewable energy, including lesser global warming and air pollution impacts, along with stable energy prices and new jobs, far exceed the costs. STATES TAKE LE AD ROLES States are also playing a critical role in shaping energy and environmental standards. California is making progress towards cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, using strategies such as vehicle-emissions limits, energy efficiency standards for buildings, and renewable port-

folio standards for utilities. California’s state public utility commission now requires PG&E Corporation, Sempra Energy, and Edison International to collectively buy 1,325 megawatts of energy storage by 2020 in order to cut emission levels. As the sixth largest economy in the world, California’s energy trajectory can serve as a model not only for other states, but for countries as well. In July, Governor Jerry Brown announced that his state would host a global summit on climate change in 2018, at the same time as all G20 nations except the United States formally reaffirmed commitment to the Paris climate accord. New York is also finding innovative pathways to sustainable energy. Its Reforming the Energy Vision plan “align[s] markets and the regulatory landscape with the overarching state policy objectives of giving all customers new opportunities for energy savings, local power generation, and enhanced reliability to provide safe, clean, and affordable electric service.” According to a 2014–2015 report by the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that advocates for the accel­ eration of market-based solutions for energy and sustainability, New York plans to roll out an increasing number of rooftop solar panels and other forms of distributed energy in order to “fundamentally transform” how energy is generated and distributed. Some of the state’s energy initiatives were sparked in response to Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out widely distributed, grid-connected electricity for long periods in 2012 (see “Risk and Reward,” pg. 26; “Alumni Profiles — Casey Kuklick,” pg. 37). In the Midwest, Illinois is implementing ambitious energy policies. The Future Energy Jobs Act, a law which recently passed the Illinois General Assembly, doubles the

Ultimately, we see this as a national change in how electricity is generated and consumed. It will be cleaner and distributed. The time frame changes, however, based on location. In some places with access to cheap and reliable electricity, the transition will be slower. But coal costs are increasing while green energy costs are continuing to decline. We feel good about this evolution. James Mandel, energy analyst for Rocky Mountain Institute


Our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy, and deliver a brighter future to the next generation. Charlie Baker (KSM ’86), Republican Governor of Massachusetts

state’s energy efficiency requirements and kick-starts renewable energy development. In addition, utility companies have partnered with clean energy advocates and regulators to develop a first-of-its-kind metric to quantify greenhouse gas reductions related to the state’s deployment of five million smart meters to nearly all residential customers. In 2017, Illinois policy makers announced the NextGrid: Illinois Utility of the Future Study, an ambitious 18-month initiative that engages stakeholders from across Illinois to help develop a cleaner, more reliable, dynamic power grid throughout the state. PAR ADIGM SHIF T FOR THE 21ST CENTURY “Ultimately, we see this as a national change in how electricity is generated and consumed,” says James Mandel, who has analyzed energy issues for Rocky Mountain Institute. “It will be cleaner and distributed. The timeframe changes, however, based on location. In some places with access to cheap and reliable electricity, the transition will be slower. But coal costs are increasing,


while green energy costs are continuing to decline. We feel good about this evolution.” The energy marketplace is rapidly changing, and it is driven by customers who are demanding cleaner energy. Businesses are responding, bolstered by developing technologies that are getting better and cheaper. Many more policymakers around the globe are beginning to align around the vision for a more sustainable future. In the US, “federal, state, and local policies have an important role in nudging the ball forward,” Google’s Hanna says. “But market forces have made it all possible.” The test is to meet ever-increasing energy demands across the globe in the cleanest possible way. While economic and political challenges will continue, many essential pieces are in place to achieve success. The clock is ticking however, and climate change impacts will begin to test our limits, well beyond our current pace of progress. Crisis can create further alignment between business and policy, but is that the best that we can do?

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue




Powering the Future Career-based learning for students entering the new energy economy



n early 2013, three individuals met over dinner to celebrate a new investment partnership. Bert Valdman (WCAS ’84), at the time President of Edison Energy, had invested in Clean Power Finance, a solar energy financing company led by founder Gary Kremen (McC ’85) and CEO Nat Kreamer (C ’99). In conversation, they came to realize that they’d all graduated from Northwestern, at different times, each arriving in the energy sector by different, sometimes happenstance, paths. Wishing that more energy and sustainability curricula had been available to them as students, the three resolved to make their years of experience in the energy industry an asset to current Northwestern students. They envisioned a seminar where students from law, business, and technical backgrounds could discuss complex problems currently facing the energy industry, as introduced by the leaders at the cutting edge. “If we could go back to our time at Northwestern, and do it all over again, we’d seize the opportunity to learn from the people who are driving the industry, ” says Valdman, now president and CEO of Optimum Energy, a software company that specializes in enabling customers to reduce their energy and water use.

Initially funded by Edison International, the parent company of Edison Energy, the ISEN-run seminar, called Powering the Future, is now in its fifth year. Of the 100 students who have participated over that time, 60 percent have gone on directly to careers in sustainability or energy. Most others are completing their degrees. Kreamer, Kremen, and Valdman, drawing from their own extensive personal and professional networks, have delivered an all-star roster of speakers, including: David Crane, senior operating executive at Pegasus Capital Advisors and former president and CEO of NRG Energy; Jon Powers, co-founder of Clean Capital and federal chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration; and Doug Kirkpatrick, general partner at InnerProduct Partners, and former chief scientist at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the George W. Bush administration. “All the seminar speakers have spent considerable time in the business, and we wanted to bring that world, as it related to new energy technologies and policies, into the classroom,” Valdman says. The seminar also offers students a unique opportunity to understand the energy industry in its current state of transition. Over the seminar’s four years, it’s rare for a speaker


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to have been invited twice, to ensure diverse and timely perspectives. “Powering the Future puts you in the same room as some of the key decision makers, so you can quickly get up to speed on current issues and build relationships that pay dividends for years,” says KJ Plank (KSM ’16), a former seminar student. THE RIGHT SPE AKERS AT THE RIGHT TIME In the fall of 2014, Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), was exactly where he wanted to be — in the chaotic middle of an energy transition. A year out of his role at the agency, he was co-chairing the energy team at Stoel Rives, a business law firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and building on the changes he implemented at FERC. These included, among others, the landmark Order 1000, which encouraged the integration of solar and wind installations into regional power transmission projects. Top of mind for him was the dichotomy between the traditional utility system and consumer adoption of new technologies, which posed both financial and stability challenges for the grid. Wellinghoff was also in the midst of reframing the future of energy power markets, conceptualizing the development of a robust 23

“Our students know that the current national regulatory environment won’t change the course of transition to an integrated, renewable energy grid, and they’re taking the steps to be prepared for working in a clean energy future.” Klaus Weber Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellog School of Management

and scalable market structure for a more efficient grid, integrating consumer choice and cleaner energy. The controversial model called for taking energy distribution systems out of the hands of the utility company and giving control to an independent body, with the goal of rapidly acquiring as much demand response, solar energy, and storage as possible under the existing grid infrastructure. Wellinghoff and his associates submitted this concept to the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s 51st State Project, which provides a safe platform for energy experts and industry leaders to discuss innovation in the energy sector. At the time, Wellinghoff didn’t know that his proposal would set the foundation for the New York Public Service Commission’s efforts to reform the state’s electricity system. The proposal recommended an independent distribution system operator, which would alleviate the logistical challenges of renewable integration for utilities by handling the day-today operations, introducing incentives, and opening up the grid to third-party competitors. Amid all this, Wellinghoff got a call from one of his clients, Nat Kreamer. “Nat called to invite me to participate in a unique forum at Northwestern that he was running,” Wellinghoff says. “He was reaching out to people who were on the frontlines of the transition and willing to be candid about it.” For Wellinghoff, the timing couldn’t have been better. “I was challenging myself every day to think 5-10 years out — and problem-solving for consumers and local governments who were clear about the direction they wanted to


go in,” he says. “I could talk on a tangible timeline about what I was seeing.” In addition to providing an overview of his role at FERC and revealing the 51st State draft, he thought it was important to speak on an obvious and emerging threat to the grid — security. To underscore just how important this issue is, Wellinghoff gave seminar participants an unclassified account of the April 2013 sniper attack on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Metcalf Trans­ mission Substation in Coyote, California. He vividly recalled that day, when gunmen fired at 17 electrical transformers, causing $15 million worth of damage and then disappeared. To avert a blackout, grid officials rerouted power from nearby power plants. For student Plank, Wellinghoff’s account of the incident made for one of the most memorable classes of the seminar. “It was an eye-opening experience that drove home the importance of clean energy, not only for the environment, but also for our energy security,” says Plank. Powering the Future draws students like Plank, who came to study business at Northwestern after earning an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and working as a strategy and operations consultant at Slalom Consulting in Seattle. After graduating from Northwestern, Plank went on to work as a strategic planning project manager at Southern California Edison. “The knowledge I obtained and the relationships I built opened a great opportunity to do strategy work,” Plank says.

“Powering the Future puts you in the same room as some of the key decision makers so you can quickly get up to speed on current issues and build relationships that pay dividends for years.” KJ Plank KSM ’16

COMBINING FOUNDATION WITH DEMAND Northwestern is among a growing number of universities responding to student demand for a career-focused curriculum in energy. At schools around the country, students are either specializing in the energy application of their degree through focused master’s programs, or choosing to gain a broader understanding of the technical, business, and policy aspects of the energy sector. Programs such as Stanford’s energy resources engineering master’s and Texas A&M’s petroleum engineering master’s draw students with a foundation in engineering who are looking to specialize and improve their readiness before entering the job market. Columbia University’s program in climate and society and Colorado State’s MBA in global, social, and sustainable enterprise take a broader approach, inviting applicants from a variety of backgrounds to bring their perspectives to the table. Powerhouse programs in sustainability, such as those offered at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, take both approaches. When Powering the Future was being developed at Northwestern, the founders saw the emerging need for students to supplement their degrees with industry-specific, current knowledge. “We recognized that no one was teaching anything like it,” Kreamer says. “We could see that students were coming out of top universities with very strong backgrounds in traditional academic areas, but they would need to spend a period of time in the energy business before they could understand it.” Kreamer, Kremen, and Valdman decided to open the course to students with technical, business, and policy backgrounds who could present those perspectives on challenges to proposed solutions. Among those was law student Olivia Lugar, who enrolled in Powering the Future to pursue her interest in advising developers working on renewable energy projects. “Without the foundation and insight I gained from the seminar, it would be so much more difficult to understand the challenges that developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs face,” Lugar says. Another student, Jonathan Pfluger, a materials science and engineering PhD candidate, recalls a class where the CEOs of both the

Powering the Future


graduate students from a balanced mix of technical, business, and policy backgrounds

10 weeks of class


Nat Kreamer

Gary Kremen

Chairman Emeritus, Solar Energy Industries Association (C ’99)

Executive Chairman, Co-Founder, Pace Avenue (McC ’85)

Bert Valdman President and CEO, Optimum Energy (WCAS ’84)


Doug Kirkpatrick

Jon Powers

Senior Operating Executive, Pegasus Capital Advisors, Former President and CEO of NRG Energy

General Partner, InnerProduct Partners, CEO, BlackPak Inc. & Former Chief Scientists at DARPA)

Abby Hopper

Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Silver Spring Networks

AVP, Energy and Smart Buildings, AT&T

Susan Leal

VP Market Strategy and Policy, SunPower Corporation

Scott Lang

President & CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association

Tom Kiernan

Principal, Urban Water Works, Former General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

CEO, American Wind Energy Association

Ronald Litzinger

President, Edison Energy

Co-Founder, CleanCapital, Federal Chief Sustainability Officer (Apr 2012–Mar 2014)

John Schinter

Tom Starrs

Jon Wellinghoff

Former Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)



percent of former students are working in careers dealing with the future of renewable energy

Emily Northard Installation Program Manager, Bloom Energy

Mark Silberg

eLab Network Manager, Rocky Mountain Institute

Nneka Uzoh

Electric Distribution Work Planning and Governance, PG&E

Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Wind Energy Association were invited to have a candid conversation about their competing interests. Since first meeting through the seminar, the CEOs have collaborated to launch the Renewable Energy Jobs Communications Campaign, a consortium of solar and wind stakeholders running an 18-month campaign to influence local, state, and federal policy. “Having the opportunity to be in a room with the leaders at the forefront of the clean energy transition pushed me to think critically about the application of my own scientific research,” says Pfluger. Interdisciplinary understanding is a key goal for the seminar, Kreamer says. “If you think of academic excellence, you typically associate that with becoming an expert on a single subject. But as you become smarter in one area of research, your world becomes narrower,” he says. “We envision this class as being one of the few moments at a graduate level where you’re truly exposed to different disciplines and different takes on an issue.” ANSWERING THE CALL The Powering the Future vision is echoed elsewhere at Northwestern, where the Kellogg School of Management is considering an energy and sustainability career track in its two-year MBA program. Called a “curriculum pathway,” the specialization will offer classes including natural resource and public economics, strategy in energy markets, corporate sustainability, and green finance. Kellogg professors Klaus Weber and Megan Busse, the pathway’s creators, are working toward an interdisciplinary program. “A new energy professional needs to understand the basic technical functions of the grid, as well as the policy environment, because it’s a highly regulated market on the extraction, production, and distribution sides,” Weber says. The Kellogg pathway models other MBA programs — including those at Berkeley and Duke — that have a strong focus on energy. “The basic principle for the pathway at Kellogg is that it encompasses industries and sectors for which the management of natural resources is integral to the business — industries such as energy, food, or agriculture,” Weber says. “These are industries where environmental issues aren’t a social-responsibility strategy, but where they are part of the competitive dynamics, and you depend on them for sustaining the industry itself.” And the adoption of that mindset isn’t slowing down, he notes. “Our students know that the current national regulatory environment won’t change the course of transition to an integrated, renewable energy grid, and they’re taking steps to be prepared for working in a clean energy future,” Weber says. With that goal in mind, both Weber and Valdman plan to introduce international case studies into their respective energy curricula. “We want to bring in the perspectives of countries that are way ahead of the US, and developing countries where there is a lot of opportunity for introducing advanced models and infrastructure,” Valdman says. “The energy industry is evolving around the world —  and we have to prepare our students for this rapidly evolving and exciting transition.”



A CONVERSATION WITH J. ERIC SMITH (KSM ‘01), PRESIDENT AND CEO OF SWIS S RE AMERICAS ust one week after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area, insured losses to homeowners were estimated to be in excess of $12 billion. Yet even with such large losses, the insurance industry rating agency A.M. Best reported that “Texas insurers [are] expected to withstand losses from Hurricane Harvey.” The ability to weather liabilities of that magnitude is a testament to the criticality and efficacy of the insurance sector. In an increasingly risk-prone world, the industry is pursuing its own practical answers to difficult, politically-charged questions through established insurance tools and product services innovation. “Swiss Re has been studying climate change for more than 30 years and has become increasingly concerned with its effects over that time span,” says J. Eric Smith (KSM ’01), president and CEO of Swiss Re Americas. “The frequency and severity of more extreme weather impacts the company and its clients, resulting in higher claims. A central concern with climate change is the risk to entire geographic areas impacted by rising sea levels and increased flooding. The worst-case scenario is one in which sea-level refugees have to flee coastal areas that flood too often, or are submerged completely.” At its core, insurance is simply a form of risk protection. Reinsurance allows a third-party insurer to further transfer or distribute risk to others without modifying the risk itself. Transfer of a primary insurer’s risk portfolio to another party through reinsurance has several benefits for the primary insurer, not the least of which is reducing the likelihood of having to pay a solvency-threatening large obligation resulting from one or more insurance claims. The benefits of reinsurance extend to overall public welfare by allowing the primary insurer the ability to underwrite policies covering a larger volume of risks without excessively raising premiums. Reinsurance empower

also provides liquidity for primary insurers to cover exceptional losses, especially during times of critical need. “Throughout history, a key requirement for successful commercial endeavors has been capital. Capital providers were unwilling to commit long-term dollars to large commercial projects without insurance coverage, and that continues today,” Smith says. PRECAUTION & PRE VENTION Although transfer of risk is the defining service of the industry, reinsurance also plays a crucial role in ensuring sustainable capital flow by influencing other forms of risk protection, including prevention and precaution. For the reinsurance industry today, prevention continues to be a first order focus. “Everyone assumes that as the reinsurance folks, we partner with other reinsurance companies or the big insurance companies, and we just try to create policies that are going to cover a loss. But, what really happens first is risk mitigation through prevention,” Smith says. Prevention involves acting directly on the risk before the event by altering either the probability of the event’s occurrence or its consequences. There is an entire field of risk and insurance economics devoted to prevention, and the reinsurance industry is on the leading edge. “After Superstorm Sandy and the significant flooding damage it caused in New York City, especially in Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg commissioned McKinsey and some other firms to do a study around risk mitigation. Swiss Re was one of the participants because we’ve built models that can predict different types of flooding in different scenarios. We can design mitigation actions to strengthen the infrastructure so that the next time the flooding comes, the damage is minimized. This could include installing certain types of doors in subway tunnels or building up levies around Manhattan.

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

With risk minimized, applying a financial tool to what’s left is more manageable, whether it’s a reinsurance agreement or some sort of core insurance agreement. It’s much less costly for the consumer, and enables the deployment of risk-transfer financial solutions that are highly levered. You want to pay a very small premium, but should something terrible happen, you want plenty of funds to build things back,” Smith says. Precaution is another form of risk protection. It is controversial and a source of friction in ongoing climate policy debates. Whereas prevention relates to the idea of acting on the ‘known risk’ before the event, precaution involves the dynamic posture of being vigilant and watching out for more evidence on a potential risk, and then making adjustments as more information is gathered. Precaution recognizes that more information will be known in the future — for example, through scientific progress. For capital and risk protection providers, the stakes around precautionary measures in the face of new scientific progress are very high. Precaution entered the limelight as a climate change rub when it was formalized as a new standard of risk management. In 1992 the ‘Precautionary Principle’ was captured in Article 3, Provision 3 of the UN’s framework convention on climate change. It states, “The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures…” ASSESSING CLIMATE RISK Whether dealing with causes or mitigating adverse effects, the reinsurance sector is pursuing a fitting and natural course in precautionary measures, and seeking to assess risk and economic consequences of climate change — regardless of political 27

views. “The US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord was extremely disappointing to Swiss Re because we view the accord as preemptive action to deal with the threat of climate change. We have conducted more than twenty Economics of Climate Adaptation studies, which show that existing climate change risk will cause economic losses equal to 1 percent to 12 percent of GDP in the countries studied,” Smith says. “Climate change does not conform to national borders as the action in one country impacts the rest of the world. The melting of the arctic ice pack is one example. That will result in rising sea levels and will impact every coastal country. We feel that it is important to bring all nations together to understand what is happening so we can work on common solutions that benefit everyone.” Yet, some companies want to throw precaution to the wind. There are disincentives for companies to pursue more certainty around potential risks. Smith explains, “It’s very hard for companies to quantify the impacts of climate change on their business because so much is unpredictable. If they could quantify the impact, they would have to account for it, which could penalize them against their competitors who choose not to quantify the impacts.” INVESTING AT HOME Swiss Re’s commitment to corporate social responsibility spans both sides of its balance sheet. The firm’s approach further emphasizes company values. Smith elaborates, “We want to show that it’s reasonable for a large corporation to gather their electrical needs from renewable sources: water, sun, wind. We are a part of a group of international companies that made a commitment several years ago, with RE100. Officially launched at Climate Week NYC in September 2014, RE100 unites 100 of the world’s largest companies in a shared commitment to use 100 percent renewable power by 2020. In 28

render a project financeable. It is designed to trigger off of a specific event, and follows with a payout mechanism. This trigger is typically based on parameters directly related to the risk that the protection buyer seeks to acquire coverage against, such as hurricane wind speed, hurricane minimum central pressure, temperature, rainfall total, or geographic location of a storm. The contingent nature of a parametric insurance contract, that it pays out only when defined parameters are recorded or experienced, makes the payout mechanism predictable and rapid. There are a multitude of ways to design a parametric trigger for an insurance, reinsurance, or risk transfer contract. This type of coverage has been enabling for investment in a broad range of applications, including intermittent sources of renewable energy like solar, wind, and hydropower resources. Smith elaborates, “For someone who is making major investments in solar power generation for example, PRODUCT INNOVATION they need a parametric cover by which they know each year that we will guarantee the Swiss Re is also making bold strides with amount of sunlight that will come down and investments related to their business as well. hit those panels, so they can hit their elecAmidst the US announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate accord earlier this year, trical generation goals.” the company made the decision to implement MIND THE (PROTECTION) GAP environmental, social, and government (ESG) Despite progress with products financially benchmarks across its entire $130 billion engineered to provide risk protection against investment portfolio. The firm has also been Mother Nature’s volatility, the increased pushing regulators to expand their permitted frequency and severity of extreme weather investments to allow for a class of investment events has exacerbated another encomin infrastructure. It is still a work-in-progress. passing policy problem for the industry and “We’ve made a pledge now to reposition our society — the protection gap, The protection investments away from basically anything gap, the difference between economic losses that’s carbon. The repositioning is influenced and insured losses, exists for several reasons. by our commitment to renewable energy and The first is affordability. Coverage may carry our concerns around climate change. It also expensive premiums and will often not defines our values as a company. We do have priority over other expenditures. The believe, it’s less about a social statement and second is lack of awareness. “There is a more about long-term prudent investment human tendency to minimize the projected management. Our investments belong in impact of longer-term risks. We tend to these types of assets.” think much shorter term,” Smith explains Swiss Re also continues to invest in devel(see “Myth and the Media,” pg. 30). Finally, oping and evolving its product offerings. as was recently demonstrated in Houston, Parametric coverage is a more recent innovation. “Parametric coverage enables a different there is a lack of requirement for protection against less probable events. Generally way of approaching exposures to flooding, speaking, in order to finance a home in lack of sunlight, or lack of rainfall, and what that can mean to a project or to society,” notes Houston, flood insurance is only required if the home is within the 100-year floodplain. Smith. This is yet another risk protection There is no flood insurance requirement for mechanism for capital providers that can addition, earlier in 2017 we invested about $7 million into a two-megawatt solar power plant to power Swiss Re headquarters here in Armonk, NY. The project has an attractive payback of less than seven years.” Swiss Re has gone even further at the employee level. “We’ve encouraged our employees to make their own investments for the last eight or nine years in a program that encourages ditching their gasoline cars and buying electric cars, or in some cities buying a bicycle so they can ride to work and not drive. The program also encourages employees to put solar panels on their homes, buy more efficient appliances, and gives them substantial cash back to make those kinds of investments in their personal lives. We’ve invested millions of dollars through our employees to help reduce their carbon footprint.”

The US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord was extremely disappointing to Swiss Re because we view the accord as preemptive action to deal with the threat to climate change. We have conducted more than twenty Economics of Climate Adaptations studies, which show that existing climate change risk will cause economic losses equal to 1 percent to 12 percent of GDP in the countries studied.

areas beyond the 100-year floodplain. As a result, a 500-year flood event, like that produced by the rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, leaves a very wide protection gap. The unmitigated effects of climate change have markedly widened the protection gap impact on all of us. “The greater this gap, the longer it takes for communities to rebuild and rebound after a natural catastrophe. We have been working with our clients to close this gap. One area we are focused on is the National Flood Insurance Program. The program cannot be sustained at the current pricing, and the federal government will be on the hook for larger and larger deficits caused by the program. This is the first year the government is buying reinsurance for the program, and Swiss Re is proud to be a reinsurer,” notes Smith.

that we help make the world more resilient —  that is what we do. We’re very proud of that,” Smith says. “We look for those with a certain emotional connection to society that really want to do something special. ISEN’s interdisciplinary approach to educating students on solving complex, global challenges is so important. We need our next generation of leaders to understand the challenges society faces, what the true solutions are, and what we need to do both as corporate and private citizens to help bring about a change of mind and heart in so many people across the globe. That’s when we will start to solve some of these problems in society.”

Interview conducted by Tom Linquist, founder and managing partner at The Leadership Lyceum, LLC. For other CEO and board director interviews on a variety of leadership topics, subscribe to the “Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor” podcast, accessible at www.leadership­, or at iTunes.

A NEED FOR TALENT As Smith and Swiss Re look forward over the next ten years at the need for talent to address the complexities of current and emerging risks, they will continue to seek actuaries from the best schools with strong financial modeling discipline. Swiss Re uses resiliency as a recruitment platform. “We tend to attract people that are more geared towards doing good for society,” Smith adds. “So, the idea is

Members of South Carolina’s Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team perform rescue operations in Port Arthur, Texas following Hurricane Harvey. empower

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue


Myth and the

Understanding public skepticism of climate change

In July 2017, a controversial article published in New York Magazine laid out the doomsday scenario for climate change. The author, David Wallace-Wells, opened “The Uninhabitable Earth” with “It is, I promise, worse than you think,” citing projections of famine, economic collapse, and biodiversity loss by the year 2100. Reponses to the article were all over the board, but many opinions gravitated around two conflicting ideas: We risk scaring people into inaction, and it’s too late to be subtle.

Wallace-Wells zeroed in on fear to say “when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination… But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial too.” It’s that same fear-induced inaction that causes people to delay retirement decisions or visits to the doctor in fear of receiving a bad diagnosis. Fear is a key reason for resisting new information, and climate change is not immune, says Seth B. Darling, one of the authors of How to Change Minds About our Changing Climate. “Human psychology leads people to believe there’s a less scary explanation because we don’t want to accept that climate change could negatively impact us,” Darling tells Empower in an interview. “Put simply, it’s scary to think about.” Darling says the book, which walks readers through scientific explanations for some common misconceptions about climate change, is meant to arm members of the public with information they can use to respond to family members, colleagues, and friends who may be skeptical about climate change. Darling, a scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, co-wrote the book with colleague Douglas L. Sisterson, a climate scientist. He says the idea was born out of climate

questions he received at professional speaking engagements. Realizing that he didn’t have all the answers, Darling partnered with Sisterson to investigate the most common climate misconceptions and respond to each with an answer backed by strong science. “The breadth and creativity of the skeptic arguments is just remarkable,” Darling says. “If people put this much effort into developing solutions, we would be much further along in making progress.” As evidence of hostility to climate change science, he cites the November 2009 hack of the email server of the Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK. Established in 1972, the CRU, with a staff of 20 research scientists and students, has developed several of the data sets frequently used by climate scientists around the world. The hack compromised sensitive information, including emails of CRU employees. Climate change skeptics cherrypicked pieces of the emails that they claimed showed climate change was a global conspiracy developed and promoted by scientists. Dubbed “Climategate,” the claims were picked up by mainstream media reporting on the December 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The CRU responded by asserting that the email


50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy in a given year. empower

fragments were taken out of context and were evidence of nothing more than honest dialogue among colleagues. Committees quickly formed to investigate the allegations, and many major scientific organizations and associations stepped in to reinforce widely accepted scientific evidence of climate change. In the end, the committees found no evidence of fraud or misconduct on the part of CRU scientists, but the damage to their reputation had already been done. CHOOSE YOUR OWN CONSPIR ACY (ME THODS TO STUDY PERCEPTION) Half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy in a given year, a phenomenon that isn’t linked to authoritarianism, ignorance, or political conservatism, according to a 2014 research finding at the University of Chicago that was published in the American Journal of Political Science. Among the country’s most enduring conspir­ acies are the existence of Area 51, the explanation of JFK’s assassination, and whether or not the moon landing was fabricated to boost national pride during the Cold War. James N. Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science at Northwestern and associate director of its Institute for Policy Research, has used the finding about Americans and conspiracy theories to examine whether acknowledging someone’s general belief system may lead climate skeptics to accept scientific consensus about human-caused climate change. Druckman, who has been studying climate communication since 2010 (and whose research is also supported by ISEN’s Ubben Program for Climate and Carbon Science), focuses on the interaction between how people deal with scientific information and politics. “We’re living in a more polarized environment than we were in 2010,” he says, “so it’s important to continue to test approaches toward realigning public opinion with the science.” In a working paper, Druckman and his collaborator, Toby Bolsen of Georgia State University, cite a 2015 study that links the way people process scientific information to their desire to maintain status within their social group, prioritizing acceptance over accuracy. The research team took a page from other studies showing that validating the authenticity of people’s beliefs can mitigate their impulses to react defensively when those beliefs are challenged. Druckman and Bolden

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

then applied this finding to climate science communication research. They studied people who tended to believe that climate change may be a conspiracy to see whether they could be moved to accept scientific consensus. They divided study participants into two groups: control and experimental. Both groups were asked to review the following consensus statement: Climate change refers to a long-term change in Earth’s climate due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature. A recent report, “Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” produced by 300 expert scientists and reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences as well as agencies with representatives from oil companies, puts much of the uncertainty to rest by stating that climate change “is primarily due to human activities.” The participants in the experimental group were also told that while a majority of people acknowledge that those in power work to mislead the public on many topics, humancaused climate change is not one of those topics. The idea was to acknowledge their general belief system, while also challenging it when it came to climate change. “We found that people who believe that climate change may be a conspiracy can be moved to accept consensus information if their belief in conspiracies is validated in general,” Druckman says. He adds that the people in the experimental group also wanted more information than those in the control group, which is an important indicator of future willingness to receive more information on the science of climate change. FR AMING CLIMATE CHANGE TO ADVANCE POLICY The idea of scientific consensus commonly shows up in research studies, political debates, and media, and has been a key tool used by these players when speaking about climate change. How scientific consensus is used, and how it’s interpreted by an audience, depends largely on framing, a technique that puts an issue into a chosen context, to influence alignment on the issue. Recognizing that science can serve as a valuable foundation for policymaking, and that this requires effective communication to stakeholders, Druckman worked with Arthur Lupia, a colleague at the University of 31

base their beliefs about long-term climate Michigan, to publish a paper in the Oxford trends on the temperature of a particular Handbook of the Science of Science day, rather than a longer span of time. Communication on framing climate change Druckman found that by applying an for effective communication. “over-time” frame to a question about climate While the act of framing an issue is change, respondents were less likely to base intended to produce a desired result, their beliefs on recent weather. The framed Druckman argues that it shouldn’t be confused with manipulating an issue. Rather, statement read: he says, framing is a crucial way to communiWhen thinking about temperatures over the cate meaning that is relatable to the audience. last year, remember that temperature It can change scientific communication patterns vary; indeed consider last winter outcomes to counter the tendency for people compared to today. Thus think not only of to rely on only recent information, to follow the feeling today, but also how you felt their partisanship blindly, and to dismiss throughout the year. sound science if some uncertainty is Framing also plays a significant role in introduced. another context, that of politically polarized In a saturated-information environment, environments, in which people tend to interin which there is simply too much informapret policy-relevant information through a tion to process — for example, during an elecpartisan lens. This is also true for how people toral campaign — people gravitate toward view climate change. smaller, tangible bits of information to make Druckman analyzed support of drilling for their decisions (in this case, to vote). When it comes to assessing an incumbent running for oil and gas off the Atlantic Coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Study participants office, Druckman says, the newer the inforwere asked to evaluate arguments for and mation, the more likely a voter will consider it against drilling. When given only the arguin deciding whom to vote for. Rather than ments, participants assessed them on their looking critically at an incumbent’s total merits, but when told which arguments were term, voters will look at what the candidate supported by certain political parties, particihas done recently. pants followed their own party affiliations. “Politicians ramp up their activities before However, if a frame was added that emphaan election, from boosting the economy to sized the importance of accurately thinking tweaking crime statistics, knowing that their actions will influence public decision-making about the policies, people turned back to the policy merits and did not blindly follow at the voting booth,” he says. their party. Druckman notes that this is a major chalIn another study in which Druckman used lenge for climate change policy, as the the policies of the 2007 Energy Independence projected impacts usually happen over long and Security Act, participants who were given periods of time and are therefore difficult for a cross-partisan frame (told that members of the public to process. Decision making and both parties supported the act) were more policymaking on climate are more likely to likely to analyze the content of the policy, result from reactions to recent changes in much like participants who were not given weather patterns and events, he points out. endorsement information. One example of this is called “the local warming effect,” which prompts people to

“The coal economy is often tied to the tale of the American Dream — you hear stories of self-made executives who have struck it rich. That mythical tale allows these industries to maintain a disproportionate influence over people living in these companysupported towns.” Bryce Gray (Medill ’16), reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The idea would be to try to encourage bipartisan aspects of agreements, which is a challenge right now. They’re just not being made,” Druckman says. Druckman also looked at cases in which politicians spread uncertainties about cherrypicked aspects of science to make audiences doubt science overall. This framing tactic makes people less likely to accept new information, policies, and technologies. To mitigate the effects of framing in such contexts, Druckman offers counter-framing that emphasizes consensus on a topic, noting that when people are presented with a consensus, they are more likely to judge content on its merits. This proves challenging when politicians dismiss or reject scientific consensus, making science irrelevant in an argument or a proposed decision on policy.

“At the most fundamental level, I’m interested in understanding how people deal with scientific information. The focus of my lens as a political scientist is how that interacts with politics. We’re living in a more polarized environment than we were in 2010, so it’s important to continue to test approaches toward realigning public opinion with the science.” James N. Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science at Northwestern 32

Day in and day out, Bryce Gray (Medill ’16), a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, decides on the most meaningful and scientifically-sound ways to convey environmental issues to Missourians. “On a typical day, I’ll cover a flooding event and convey competing explanations from the experts,” Gray says. “Some of the experts say that the flooding is caused by overbuilt levees, and some say it’s climate change. Although the explanations can get really technical, it’s our job to relay that complexity.” Reporting on climate change in a community that is home to two of the largest coal suppliers in the world, Gray also stresses the importance of energy-related stories that defy stereotypes. “The coal economy is often tied to the tale of the American Dream—you hear stories of self-made executives who have struck it rich,” he says. “That mythical tale allows these industries to maintain a disproportionate influence over people living in these company-supported towns.” To convey an alternative narrative, Gray says he highlights community leaders who challenge that perception. He recently reported on Caleb Arthur, the CEO and founder of Sun Solar, Missouri’s largest solar company. A conservative Republican, Arthur comes from humble beginnings and has reached this level of success without a college degree, saying he works in renewable energy because it makes smart business sense.

“There’s a lot of pushback on science reporters and science reporting right now, and they really have to learn to do due diligence— fact checking, looking at the data sets, and creating graphs that can convey some of the complex scientific concepts in an understandable way.” Writers are not the only group thinking about how to communicate science at an interpersonal level. Increasingly, scientists are seeing the value of becoming the communicators of their own work. For them, the charge is not only to conduct research to advance solutions for the public good, but also to communicate findings in a way that is meaningful to the public. In her geologic studies to reconstruct past climate records around the Arctic, Yarrow Axford, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at Northwestern, communicates how lessons from the Earth’s past in remote places can help predict life-threatening impacts projected to occur in the future. “It’s important to tell more stories like In addition to this field work, Axford this and to highlight figures who are relatable, teaches Communicating Science Beyond who readers can aspire to be like, or at least who influence their understanding of success,” Academia, which aims to prepare science students to take on roles as communicators. Gray says. “It can be hard to realize that you’re Gray graduated from the Medill School of speaking in jargon, or that the significance of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing your work is not obvious to everyone—and if Communications at Northwestern in 2016. you don’t make the relevance or importance The school’s graduate program offers a of your work obvious, your findings won’t specialty track for students who wish to move beyond academia,” Axford says. “This is pursue health and science reporting, and why it’s really important to train future scienawards the Comer Scholarship for Environmental Reporting to those committed tists to step up to the plate and effectively engage with the public.” to reporting on issues related to the environIn her seminar, Axford also challenges the ment and climate change. perception that communicating science to a Abigail Foerstner, assistant professor and general audience requires oversimplifying it codirector of the science reporting program or “dumbing it down.” at Medill, trains the next generation of “People don’t want to hear the dumb science reporters to beware of false equivaversion,” Axford says. “They want to be excited lency in science reporting. about the science and understand what is “You don’t want to confuse the science and important and interesting about it.” political opinions as two sides of the science,” The most important lesson Yarrow wants she says. “The atmospheric physics of carbon dioxide doesn’t change from red states to blue her students to take away is that communicating is all about the audience. states, and the climbing CO2 levels are the “The first step is recognizing that not all thermostat for global warming.” audiences are the same,” she says. “Whether Foerstner also prepares her students to you’re talking to the alderman, or a church think critically about scientific information, group, or to people at a golf course, you won’t to rely on the scientific community to analyze get your message across unless you undera new research claim in context, and to stand your audience and present your work in protect themselves from the scrutiny of a way that piques their interest and that climate skeptics. matters to their everyday lives.” “Students have to really make sure they understand the science,” Foerstner maintains.


Fall 2017: The Climate Issue





THE SUSTAINABILIT Y FRONTIER JANICE CANTIERI Using satellite imagery to track and monitor the changes in Earth’s environment is becoming increasingly important as global temperatures continue to rise. Technological advancements can help ensure more persistent monitoring of Earth’s climate, and reduce waste in the space industry. “Remote sensing satellites are used for a variety of applications including environmental monitoring, and to me that’s a really big piece in sustainability — understanding the climate is changing and monitoring everything from the polar ice caps to the impact of irrigation and farming in the Middle East,” says Bruce Stephenson (WCAS ’87), the chief strategy and corporate development officer for Maxar Technologies, a space systems and services company, and parent company of SSL, a commercial satellite maker. Stephenson is passionate about further-­ ing sustainability efforts in every way he can. Several projects at SSL have the potential to advance sustainability efforts — both in space and on Earth. In addition to his work at Maxar, he has served on ISEN’s executive council since 2014, last year becoming its chairperson. “I really believe in the mission and the importance of focusing on sustainability in a variety of ways; I think it’s one of the greatest issues that we’re facing globally. [Serving on ISEN’s executive council] was an opportunity to put those skills and experience to some good in an area I was passionate about,” he says.


Maxar is also the parent company of DigitalGlobe, a Colorado-based company that collects and analyzes high-resolution geospatial imagery. The company uses satellite imagery to closely monitor changes on Earth’s surface (e.g. deforestation, glacial melting, and intense droughts) and detect humanitarian crises. DigitalGlobe’s satellites have already been used to help free slaves held captive on a fishing boat near Papua New Guinea in 2015, fight famine in south Sudan, and track the impact of natural disasters in Haiti and Tennessee. The ability to collect and analyze high-quality images allows for quick response to environmental changes or intervention during crises. SSL is also developing on-orbit servicing technology that could extend the lifespans of these and other commercial and government satellites, and facilitate frequent updates and additions to the technology onboard. In the past half-century, thousands of satellites have been launched to collect scientific data, monitor the environment, and provide communications services for governments and militaries. Currently, when these multimillion-dollar satellites need repairs or run out of chemical fuel, they are decommissioned, essentially becoming space junk. Even though the technology onboard may still be working, it gets tossed away with the spacecraft. Depending on their proximity, satellites are either flown towards the Earth to burn up in the atmosphere, or propelled deeper into space to a place known as the “graveyard

Rendering of placements of active and decommissioned satellites in Earth’s orbit. SSL aims to extend the life of satellites, thereby reducing space debris.

orbit,” a region more than 23,600 miles away, where satellite remains won’t pose a threat to other spacecraft. SSL is creating an on-orbit servicing spacecraft with advanced robotic arms that can repair, reposition, inspect, and update satellites, entirely in space. Servicing could eliminate the need for governments and companies to invest millions—and sometimes billions—of dollars to design, build, and launch a replacement satellite every time a repair is needed or fuel runs out. “On-orbit servicing is something that’s exciting and can really bring a lot of capabilities to the industry, reduce the cost, and

increase flexibility for the satellites that our customers operate,” Stephenson says. “That will have significant impacts on communications — being able to get broadband internet out to the developing world and in remote regions where people don’t have access today, making it more affordable, and enabling more persistent monitoring of the environment so that we can be better informed and act on what we’re seeing.” SSL is working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the Department of Defense, to develop the robotics for satellite inspection, repair, and


Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

repositioning, and SSL is adding the capabilities for satellite refueling. “On-orbit servicing has the potential to reduce the number of launches and the number of satellites and payloads that need to be recaptured,” Stephenson said. While servicing capabilities will primarily reduce the cost of satellite launches and allow satellite operators to update, repair, and construct satellites entirely in space, there are also sustainability benefits — it can lead to extended spacecraft lifespans and less waste in the space industry, he says.


In 2017, we saw leaders from states, cities, and businesses come together to declare a commitment to climate goals set in Paris. We chatted with three alums working in state and city governments to create more sustainable and resilient communities for their constituents.

Empowering Communities to Lead on Climate


Laura Oakleaf (SPS ’05) Legislative Coordinator, Department of Environmental Control, Cook County Government, Illinois

“We’ve made a lot of progress in institutionalizing the value of sustainability at Cook County, especially in the area of energy efficiency.”


aura Oakleaf would call herself an environmental advocate for Cook County, the second most populous county in the US (after Los Angeles County), which encompasses the entire city of Chicago and over 130 municipalities. In her role as legislative coordinator at the Department of Environmental Control, Oakleaf is responsible for strategic sustainability planning, communications and outreach, and grant management. “I’m really proud of the work Cook County has done to make sustainability a priority,” says Oakleaf. Earlier this year, Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board President, joined forces with Dane County in Wisconsin to sign on to the We Are Still In declaration (see “Leading the Charge”, pg. 14), reaffirming the County’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Recently, Oakleaf worked to implement a federal cooperative award of $1.2 million to help bring community-shared solar power to Cook County. The project was one of only 15 awarded nationally as part of the US Department of Energy Sun Shot Initiative. The goal of the project was to establish a community solar market in the County that provides the economic and environmental benefits of solar to a dense urban area. The project produced an opportunity assessment, policy analysis, and value and impact analysis reports, as well as 15 detailed case studies. Oakleaf worked with the project’s many partners, which included Elevate Energy, ComEd, West Monroe Partners, the City of Chicago, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center to manage the project and produce the final report, which was released this fall. “This was a very robust and open process that included more than 100 different Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

organizations working as a part of our stakeholder process,” says Oakleaf. The team analyzed 15 sites for their solar potential and proposed solar capacity, site ownership, system ownership, installation type, and subscription type. For each site, they created an economic model that a future site owner could replicate. “We wanted to create an example that a site owner could envision implementing in her community,” says Oakleaf. Oakleaf’s professional background is deeply rooted in public service and policy. Before her role in Cook County government, she held positions with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Commissioner (now Congressman) Mike Quigley, and the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. In 2005, she received her master’s in public policy administration from Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies. “Through the program at Northwestern, I gained an understanding of the policymaking process, budgeting, and community engagement, all of which I use every day in moving our programs forward,” says Oakleaf. While she is excited about the County’s investment in environmental and energy solutions, she is especially optimistic about what’s to come. “We’ve made a lot of progress in institutionalizing the value of sustainability at Cook County, especially in the area of energy efficiency, where we’ve been able to decrease building energy greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent since 2010,” says Oakleaf. “Moving forward I’m really excited to see how far we can push the County to take advantage of renewable energy and other new technologies that will lower our carbon footprint even further.”


From History Major to Policy Strategist


Casey Kuklick (WCAS ’08) Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Energy and Finance, New York State Office of the Governor


asey Kuklick is no stranger to multitasking. As a senior policy advisor in the Office of Energy and Finance at the New York State Office of the Governor, Kuklick might meet with stakeholders, review a press release for a major program launch, and then turn to strategic analysis of issues related to New York’s clean energy plan — all in a day’s work. Kuklick and his team are busy working to meet the goals laid out in the 2016 Clean Energy Standard (CES) by the New York Public Service Commission. “New York is a leader in how it’s taking a hard look at the power sector and modernizing utilities in an age when constituents are putting solar panels on their roofs, not just because it’s good for the environment, but because it’s a wise move from an economics standpoint,” says Kuklick. The CES calls for utilities to procure 50 percent of the state’s electricity from eligible clean energy sources by 2030. “Along with California, that’s the most ambitious renewable energy target in the US,” says Kuklick. New York is also a member of the US Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states committed to reducing greenhouse gases according to the goals set in the Paris climate accord. “We’re on track not only to uphold the Paris goals, but to surpass them by accelerating our statewide targets,” says Kuklick. He is currently helping coordinate two major requests for proposals from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority that call for large-scale renewable energy projects, including onshore and offshore wind projects, biomass projects, and digesters. “Sustainability will play a huge role

in the future of New York, it’s just a matter of how quickly we move,” says Kuklick. Kuklick’s interest in urban and public policy took shape during his time as a history major at Northwestern. He enrolled in several urban policy and politics classes, and co-taught a peer-to-peer seminar on health, education, and social equity. These experiences would influence his decision to work on Scott Stringer’s 2008 campaign for borough president of Manhattan (Stringer is now New York City Comptroller) immediately after graduating from Northwestern, and then to continue working for Stringer after he won the election. Kuklick zeroed in on his interest in public policy, working within the urban and regional policy program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, before enrolling in Columbia University’s Masters of International Affairs program in 2014. While in school, Kuklick started working as an infrastructure and urban policy analyst at the governor’s office, where he worked for three years, leading up to his position as senior policy advisor this past year. Kuklick has accepted a new position as director of strategic planning for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a nonprofit dedicated to community development.

“[In New York] we’re on track not only to uphold the Paris goals, but to surpass them by accelerating our statewide targets.”

Leading Boston Toward Climate Neutrality


hen he was a member of the City of Boston’s finance cabinet, Joseph LaRusso took a close look at how the city was purchasing and using energy and thought, “We can do better.” A dual alum of The Graduate School and the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern, LaRusso initially worked in private practice, specializing in public finance. Boston’s Treasury Department hired him to bring that expertise in-house. “During my time in the Treasury Department it occurred to me that the city was frugal in every respect, except when it came to energy,” says LaRusso. The city’s first foray into energy management was a straightforward financial trans­ action; the city ceased purchasing electricity from its local electric utility and competitively procured electricity from a third-party supplier. LaRusso drafted the request for proposals that resulted in that procurement. The contract yielded immediate savings —  last year alone, electricity supply savings equaled $4.3 million. In 2007, the mayor issued an executive order requiring the city to take a number of steps to reduce the threat of climate change. The order included, among other things, the call for an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. In 2008, Massachusetts mirrored that goal in the Global Warming Solutions Act (GCA), and a year after that, it established a fund to finance energy efficiency projects statewide through the Green Communities Act. The availability of funding allowed the city’s Environment Department to create a municipal energy unit (MEU) to identify energy efficiency projects, marshal the city and


“Saving money and saving energy are two sides of the same coin.”

GCA funding necessary to finance them, and keep the city’s own portfolio of municipal assets on track to meet the mayor’s stated citywide GHG reduction goals. LaRusso was offered the opportunity to join the MEU due to his familiarity with the city’s financial operations and his early participation in energy planning. The ability to leverage GCA funding encouraged city departments to implement an ever-growing number of energy efficiency projects. “Saving money and saving energy are two sides of the same coin,” LaRusso says. “If you want to persuade people to reduce energy consumption, the carrot is always saving money. The rule holds true in municipal government, as well.” In his role at the MEU, LaRusso is working to implement an energy service contract that will enable the city to plan energy efficiency comprehensively throughout all of its buildings. LaRusso is also currently working on a variety of other projects to introduce greater amounts of renewables into the city’s energy mix and to deploy other technologies, such as combined heat and power units and battery storage facilities, that will enhance the resilience of city operations and reap additional savings. By setting and meeting ambitious goals to reduce its emissions, implementing

Fall 2017: The Climate Issue

Joseph LaRusso (TGS ‘81, Law ’89) Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Finance Manager, City of Boston Environment Department

efficiency measures at scale, and deploying renewables and other distributed resources, Boston continues to lead by example. It has been ranked the most energy-efficient city in America in each of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s three biennial City Energy Efficiency Scorecards and just this spring, Boston’s current mayor, Marty Walsh, set a new target: carbon neutrality by 2050. “We’re raising awareness about energy across the city,” says LaRusso. “Doing so will make energy more affordable, safe, and sustainable for all Bostonians.”


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Above: Northwestern’s first-ever entry into the biennial US DOE Solar Decathalon in Denver Far left: Northwestern Solar Decathalon team Left: Chris Nicholas (WCAS ’04) presents a history of Northwestern catalysis at the 150th birthday celebration of renowned chemist Vladimir Ipatieff Below: Northwestern professors and guests at Ipatieff celebration, on the lakefill


O NL INE AT IS EN. N O R T H W E S T ER N.ED U Want more Empower? ISEN regularly features original coverage of our award-winning faculty, breakthrough technologies, and new approaches and collaborations aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing sustainability and energy challenges.

Northwestern Showcases Solar Home in Denver The University’s first-ever entry into the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Decathlon was judged in 10 different contests spanning from innovation and market potential, to energy and engineering.

Honoring NU Chemist Who Helped Win WWII ISEN’s Center for Catalysis and Surface Science (CCSS) hosted a 150th birthday celebration for Vladimir Nikolayevich Ipatieff, in recognition of his pioneering scientific contributions to the field of catalysis.

Engineering Students Visit Germany for Sustainability Immersion Fifteen rising sophomores participate in the first Global Engineering Trek in Sustainability, visiting companies, NGOs, and startups focused on sustainability.

Northwestern Releases Inaugural Sustainability Plan Solidifying its commitment to mitigating climate change, the University has released its inaugural Strategic Sustainability Plan (2017-2021) in early October. Far above: ISEN’s 2017 alumni event at Northwestern’s San Francisco headquarters Above: Alumni networking reception in San Francisco Left: Northwestern chemist demonstrates DIY solar cell at 2017 Chicago March for Science

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Northwestern rising sophomores meet with a clean energy specialist at an ABO Wind farm in Weilrod, Germany as part of the inaugural Global Engineering Trek in Sustainability. The international cleantech immersion experience is a joint program between ISEN and Northwestern Engineering’s Office of Global Initiatives.

Empower: Fall 2017  
Empower: Fall 2017  

The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern's Empower magazine informs and inspires dialogue around current issues in sustai...