Smart Energy Voices - Episode 100

Smart Energy Voices - Episode 100

Heard at Net Zero Forum: Women in Smart Energy

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We’re celebrating the 100th episode of Smart Energy Voices with a showcase of women leaders who are driving sustainability in the energy sector. As recorded at the recent Net Zero Forum Spring, 2024 WISE (Women in Smart Energy) winners Renée Yarmy, Eryn Beddoes and Leigh Pearson discuss advancing net-zero efforts, workforce development, the value of mentorship, improving gender diversity in STEM and energy, and their personal motivations.


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

  • Innovative projects and sustainability goals [02:09]
  • A closer look at WISE winners' contributions [07:16]
  • Challenges/opportunities for women in energy and sustainability sectors [16:41]
  • Gender diversity and collaboration in the energy transition [29:27]

Meet the WISE Award Winners

Renée Yarmy, recognized with the WISE Award for Government Innovation, leads sustainability projects at the Port of San Diego, aiming to achieve the Port's 2030 environmental goals. This includes transitioning to all-electric tugboats, building a zero-emission truck stop, and installing electric cranes. These support the Port's broader Maritime Clean Air Strategy to reduce emissions through over 20 initiatives.

Eryn Beddoes, recognized as the WISE Award's Rising Star, leads sustainability efforts at Red Deer Polytechnic, aiming for the institution to be net-zero energy by 2031 and net-zero carbon by 2041. Her Green Campus Master Plan sets ambitious emissions and renewable energy goals. By integrating sustainability into campus infrastructure, she spotlights education's role in advancing environmental initiatives.

Leigh Pearson, recognized as an Industry Veteran in the Commercial Sector, has been instrumental in driving innovation at Staples Canada. Her leadership has led to the adoption of different sustainable solutions, including a Sustainability Dashboard, lighting and HVAC upgrades, and an EV program. As a leader in the commercial sector, she has motivated facilities managers to incorporate green considerations into operations and decisions.

Overcoming Obstacles

These three sustainability leaders bring innovation to male-dominated fields with resilience and authenticity. Their stories highlight the value of mentorship, cooperation and leadership in creating inclusive cultures that promote environmental progress.

Mentorship, Collaboration and Moving Forward

A key message throughout the discussion is the significance of collaboration, regardless of gender. The panelists agree: What matters most is passion, open-mindedness and a collective drive to innovate for impact. Their shared vision of an inclusive, sustainable future calls on all energy sector leaders to advocate for sustainability.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Renée Yarmy

Renée Yarmy has over 20 years’ experience in architecture, sustainable development, climate action planning, and project management. Renée serves as the Program Director for Maritime Sustainable Development at the Port of San Diego. In this role, Renée develops and implements strategic energy planning initiatives and clean freight projects to meet the clean air goals of the Port’s Climate Action Plan and Maritime Clean Air Strategy. Example projects include microgrid development, electrification of Port operational equipment across the supply chain to advance zero emissions strategies, and implementation of data tools to broaden port-wide visibility into emissions reductions progress.

In addition to her role at the Port, Renée teaches at University of California, San Diego Extension for the Sustainable Business Practices certificate program. Prior to joining the District, Renée served as a sustainability consultant responsible for advising West Coast ports, as well as local, federal and international government agencies. Renée holds a Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Science in Sustainable Development, and LEED AP O+M credential.

Connect with Eryn Beddoes

Eryn Beddoes is Manager of Facility Engineering and Infrastructure at Red Deer Polytechnic. This role includes managing the campus electrical, mechanical, and civil infrastructure, as well as maintenance, utilities, renewable energy, and sustainability initiatives on campus. She has helped move forward the Green Campus Master Plan and is working toward achieving the institutional goals of Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon by 2041.

Eryn received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Northern British Columbia. She is a member of the Army Reserves, working with the Canadian Cadet Program for over 15 years, and is currently the Commanding Officer of the Red Deer Sea Cadet Corps. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the gym and spending lots of time in the outdoors with her dog, Bandit.

Connect with Leigh Pearson

As the Senior Director of Facilities, Sustainability, Sourcing and Procurement for Staples Canada, Leigh Pearson is responsible for the facility maintenance, repair, and service-related programs and partners/contractors for all Canadian properties (320+ locations) inclusive of Retail, Corporate, Warehouse and closed-door locations. Leigh is responsible for setting the sustainability agenda and identifying key focus areas for the company including numerous customer-facing recycling programs, internal waste diversion, community-based recycling initiatives and energy management inclusive of Staples's commitment to renewables. Leigh also has fiscal responsibility for the capital and expense budgets for all facility-related initiatives for all Staples locations in Canada and oversees procurement inclusive of non-trade supplies and corporate travel.

For her efforts, Leigh was named to Canada’s 2014 and 2016 Clean50, which offers recognition to Canada’s leaders in sustainability for their contributions over the prior two years, and has been honored by Retail Council of Canada twice in the area of Sustainability. She was elected to the Connex (formerly Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association) Board of Directors in 2014 and was elected as the 2016-17 Chair of Board. Leigh is the second female in 25 years to hold the role and the first Canadian in the position.


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