For those readers who are in more frequent communication with me, you heard a couple weeks ago, that I have recently accepted a position at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy out in Washington DC. I will be working as a Research Analyst with the Behavior and Human Dimensions Program, continuing my work and research around advancing behavioral considerations in energy efficiency and conservation.
This news came very recently, and my last day at CERTs and working on my fellowship will be Friday, May 18th. This is turning out to be one of the most difficult transitions I’ve ever experienced. It’s excruciatingly sad for me to be leaving CERTs. I expect there are only a few places in this world where you will find both your favorite work mates and your best friends in the same open office. It’s a place where passion for our work is matched only by a commitment and accountability to one another, as friends and colleagues. It’s a place where smiles dominate (see how seriously smiley we are here) and where energy education and action is fun (see Family Energy Face-Off and note that Kathy Kuntz from Cool Choices seeded the idea and more!) and functional (see Right Light Guide). It’s a place that tells stories (case studies) and convenes A LOT of community events (see events). It’s an amazing organization, and I have worked with a wonderful and incredibly talented team for the last (nearly) four years.
The CERTs Team has really given me the wings to take off to this new position, and I’m completely thrilled to be part of ACEEE and their research mission. ACEEE brings together the two worlds of rigorous research and applicability in the field. To my specific interest, ACEEE’s Behavior and Human Dimensions Program really hits home how research is relevant and useful in better understanding how we get deep behavioral changes. Dr. Susan Mazur-Stommen is the head of this program (I wrote about her here when she first joined), and brings her knowledge and training in anthropology to see our energy problems different.
An example of this: In my presentations to many of you, I used reusable bags and forgetting them as a close-to-home example of how many of us, despite our sustainable values, still do the wrong action and forget our bags. It’s not that we’re unsustainable, but we have overriding considerations in our everyday behavior. I love Dr. Mazur-Stommen’s example in this blog post about the importance of understanding user experience and the example of how we might keep our A/C on for our pets. It’s not that we don’t want to save energy (I sure do), but my pet’s comfort will probably rise to a new priority as I experience D.C. heat and humidity for the first time.
It is this kind of exploration, into the intersection of questions of human behavior, culture, and community with those of energy efficiency and conservation, that I will continue in this new chapter. It is an extension of the work I have done both at CERTs and through my fellowship; without either, I would not have this unique opportunity to advance our work toward a clean energy and sustainable society.
This is a very fast transition. As these days go quickly by, I wish to imagine a transition very different than this – longer, for sure, with more time to visit with each of those I have worked with, to reflect on the work and partnership we’ve shared. In that stead, however inadequate, I am committed to sending fellowship monthly reports; randomly (but regularly) dropping notes and calls to CERTs folks; and doing my best to share the best kept secrets of the DC energy world here at CommonSpark*.
We will be in touch — as our work continues, we need each other more than ever before.