Beyond the Meter - Episode 18

Beyond the Meter - Episode 18

Getting the Green Light for Energy Projects with Mark Adams, Mike York, and Wayne Johnson


This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.

In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by three Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions team members: Mark Adams, Business Development Manager;  Mike York, Sales Enablement, and Wayne Johnson, Key Segment Manager for Education. These experienced executives walk through practical steps toward gaining approval for resiliency projects.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Understanding the project [02:21]
  • Making the business case for a project [05:59]
  • The “Money Authority Need” concept [10:14]
  • Barriers to communication [15:21]
  • The DISC profile [20:34]
  • Building consensus [24:03]
  • Risk-adjusted cost [30:22]
  • Before the C-suite meeting [39:58]

Making the business case

Achieving internal buy-in for energy managers is a common challenge. Many projects miss the mark on this critical first step in making the business case for a project. Fully understanding the project, need, and goal will lead to precisely what’s necessary for a project to achieve that goal. Starting with the end in mind and understanding the process will direct how the project is communicated.

Everyone has different communication styles, so choosing the right person to present varies by initiative. Typically, engineers can speak to engineers and do a reasonably good job communicating with finance. Still, many engineers would find it a challenge to translate an initiative into business results and talk to executives. The presentation must be succinct, with further data ready for when there are deeper questions. The goal is to give people the information they need to make a reasonable decision and not drown them in detail and minutiae. With data, details can become muddled in the impact, degrading the target outcome’s importance.

Begin with consensus

The default starting point for many projects has been receiving approval from finance. However, finance tends to wait to follow after the authority has expressed initial interest. At that time, a higher priority is placed on the project, and the project will receive more support. The entry point has to be with the individual with the need. Finance tends to look for a simple payback or some framework that may not apply well regarding the replacement of assets. The presenter will need to present the initiative in such a way as to anticipate and overcome objections.

Finance finds comfort in consensus. If approached with a project that already has people from various departments working together to push it forward, finance is much more likely to join. Finance will need cost comparisons, asset lift management expectations, and expenses. Anticipating these questions means knowing the people in finance and how they communicate.

Consider the wider audience

When proposing a project to your business, the decision-makers are the primary audience. Often overlooked are the people who don’t have the authority to approve a project yet affect how the project proposal is received. Considering these different perspectives and bringing them on board is crucial in making the business case for a project.

Success is unlikely if a solution doesn’t receive support from the engineering, facilities, and finance departments. This concept applies in other industries as well. In education, the sustainability officer doesn’t typically have much money to spend or authority to leverage but is influential in the process. Being attuned to the broader audience will help gain the project’s approval and its overall success.

Resources and People Mentioned

Connect with Our Guests

Mark Adams - Business Development Manager

Mark’s experience with Duke Energy and Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions through his multiple roles has given him the opportunity to meet, listen and understand, through countless customer meetings across a wide spectrum of industries, the challenges and the ever-changing world they live and compete in daily.  Through these meetings, he has learned that everyone has their own unique issues and challenges.  His learned business development skills have given him the opportunity to work with diverse industries on many innovative projects.

Mark is married to Samona for 35 years and has a 31-year-old married son named Landon. 

Mark is an avid golfer and loves working in his yard.


Mike York - Strategic Account Manager

Michael York has spent the majority of the past thirty years as an executive responsible for running operations with revenues between $275-$700M annually. During this period, he has managed capital budgets, and engineering staff and has successfully launched numerous service offerings. In addition to these responsibilities he has spoken at events such as Gartner Group conferences, North Carolina State University Executive Roundtable, Minority Economic Forum events and served on the Minority Competitiveness council under the US Department of commerce. He has authored the book Reset, numerous white papers and worked with the VA, Minority Entrepreneurial Council and Raleigh Rescue Mission.

Mike is a graduate of the Strategic Leadership Institute at Villanova University, Adizas Institute and Murray State University. Currently, he works for Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions in the area of sales enablement to facilitate complex deals and build compelling business cases for business developers and customers.


Wayne Johnson - Key Segment Manager for Education

Wayne Johnson is key segment manager for the education segment at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and has a wealth of experience in energy innovation and solution finance. He also spent years as a facilities manager and energy executive in higher education.

Wayne’s out-of-the-box thinking helps him meet the challenges of energy infrastructure and asset management in education. Wayne designs energy solutions to help meet the needs of all project stakeholders, including facilities leaders, CFOs, presidents, heads of schools, faculty, staff, students and local communities. He uses his unique experience to help schools become more energy efficient, sustainable and viable for the future.

Wayne has been invited to speak at conferences and universities across the country about finance innovation for campus energy and sustainability projects. He also works closely with Duke Energy’s Emerging Technology organization to bring behind-the-meter innovation to campuses. Most recently, Wayne has been exploring the role of alternative fuels on campus via pilot project funding.

Wayne enjoys international travel, time on the lake and hiking with his family. Wayne has worked as a licensed electrical and general contractor and is an alumnus of Mars Hill University and The University of South Carolina. His master’s degree is in education administration.


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