The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2016, which is Women’s History Month.
As part of the series we interviewed Mindy Granley, Sustainability Director at University of Minnesota Duluth, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more!
Can you tell me a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?
I work on energy issues in several ways. I am the Sustainability Director for University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD), including energy awareness, campus operations, and education. Part of my role is to be an energy cheerleader by increasing awareness and promoting good energy behaviors by students, staff, and faculty on campus. The cleanest unit of energy is the one we never have to use, so the simple things like closing windows, turning off lights, powering down computers, unplugging and sharing appliances seem small, but with over 10,000 people on campus, small choices add up to big savings
I engage our campus on energy issues through education and research activities: helping support faculty working on research projects in energy, giving tours of our energy-efficient buildings, or planning for future renewable energy installations or purchases. No matter what, I try to include and involve students to capture learning opportunities. Environmental, economic, and equitable solutions for clean energy will require people from business, finance, engineering, science, policy, education, communication, and more. That is why all students can benefit by working on clean energy projects.
Lastly, I work on energy in our campus operations. UMD has signed a commitment to reduce our carbon emissions, and that starts with finding more efficient ways to use energy to power and heat or cool campus buildings. Integrating sustainability into building and remodeling projects is very important. Luckily, there is a long history of energy-efficient choices at UMD, and there are skilled facilities staff who have been doing this for years! Sharing their stories of success on projects and new technologies helps to solidify our expectations and commitment to energy-efficiency and sustainability.
How did you get into this work?
I started my career in watershed protection. But by working to protect Lake Superior and trout streams from pollution, I eventually realized that climate change is also a looming threat. This made me want to work on reducing carbon emissions, which means saving energy and promoting cleaner energy sources. Action on energy is needed to preserve our precious coldwater resources.
What is a typical day like for you?
It is never the same day twice! One of the most common things I do is attend a lot of meetings! I talk with interested students, colleagues in campus operations, faculty experts, outside contractors, and community groups and organizations. My role is often to find ways to connect campus and community players, share our lessons learned, and involve students. The upside to all these meetings is getting to work with so many amazing campus and community partners.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Best: Working with students! Worst: Getting depressed after talking about the challenges around climate change, how broad and complex the issues are. But I try to end any talk about climate change with the “what we are doing” story. Citing examples of energy-saving success makes it feel a little less daunting.
What about your job inspires you?
What inspires me is working with students, who are truly the future. I’m inspired that students from all over campus— finance, business, art, science, engineering—all care about sustainability and want to be part of solving the big issues of energy, water, and climate.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?
Please don’t hesitate to work in the energy field, and do not feel intimidated. Whatever your strengths are, there is a way to work on energy issues. Whether you are engineering-minded or a collaborator/communicator type, there is a role for you in the energy game! Environmental, economic, and equitable solutions for clean energy will require people from business, finance, engineering, science, policy, education, communication, and more. Increasingly, students are looking for ways to work beyond their chosen discipline. Sure, engineering students want to work on renewable energy projects, but so do art students, political science students, accounting and finance students, and many more. Complex energy and climate solutions require thinking about how environmental, economic and social systems interact and impact each other. This is why sustainability and system-thinking are vital skills for all students to gain— a big part of the reason I come to work every day!
At the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), Mindy Granley works to advance sustainability on campus through communication, coordination and assessment. Her position helps ensure that UMD implements sustainability goals and values identified in the UMD Strategic Plan, complies with the Board of Regents Policy on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, and meets goals of our Climate Commitment. She is both a big-picture, long-term strategic thinker and a day-to-day practitioner of logistics, operations, and project/program management.
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For #wmnhist #IWD2016
mncerts</a> is highlighting 18 women leading MN's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CleanEnergy?src=hash">#CleanEnergy</a> industry! <a href="https://t.co/N6dQ6gXx6U">https://t.co/N6dQ6gXx6U</a> <a href="https://t.co/q0ZWy51Iym">pic.twitter.com/q0ZWy51Iym</a></p>— CERTs (MNCERTs) March 1, 2016
|About the Author: Kathleen McGee is a freelance writer and content strategist for environmental organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com.|
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries during Women’s History Month.