Smart Energy Voices - Episode 7

Smart Energy Voices - Episode 7

Innovative Approaches to Achieving Renewable Energy and Climate Goals with Valerie Cardwell, Beth Wytiaz, and Becky Sternberg

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On today's episode, listen in on a panel discussion from a recent Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum. This exciting panel features Valerie Cardwell, with Comcast NBC Universal’s Office of Sustainability and Beth Wytiaz, Global Environmental Operations Manager at Bank of America. The panel is moderated by Becky Sternberg, Vice President of Energy and Climate Practice at 3Degrees.

Beth and Valerie share their renewable energy and climate goals, plus their strategies for achieving them. It's a great opportunity to look behind the curtain at these two large corporate buyers of renewable energy and not only understand their sustainability commitments but the obstacles they're overcoming to make things happen.

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

  • Meeting Beth [2:34]
  • How Beth’s day-to-day role plays into Bank of America’s renewable commitment [3:13]
  • Reaching a 100% renewable goal with innovation & maximum impact [4:13]
  • Meeting Valerie [5:37]
  • The diversity of Comcast’s footprint [6:27]
  • Work being done to address Comcast’s complexity [7:55]
  • Enabling co-benefits from an environmental perspective [11:15]
  • Aligning co-benefits with internal approval [14:01]
  • Takeaways for a new approach in your organization [21:00]
  • What is the biggest lesson learned? [23:00]

Public goals... and what it takes to reach them.

Beth talks about Bank of America’s 100% renewable goal, as well as their carbon neutrality goal—two of 13 public goals—she is working towards. When they looked to achieve these goals they set an overarching mission. Not only for their ESG strategy, but also their responsible growth framework, and within that, they are striving to reach the 100% renewable goal in a way that is innovative but also maximizes impact. When thinking about innovation and impact while looking across all operations, the first thing they did to get to carbon neutrality was to look at where they could reduce emissions. Since 2010, they've reduced emissions by 56% and are hoping to continue that trajectory beyond 2020.

Their next step was to purchase 100% renewable electricity. They have done that through leveraging a variety of tactics and ultimately building a portfolio and creating a hierarchy around where they wanted to start and focus efforts. Finally, for what's leftover within Scope One and Scope Two emissions, there were a few things that they had to purchase carbon offsets for. Listen now to hear the full story.

Doing things differently

How does one address a company like Comcast that has such a complicated footprint with many different sources and scopes of emissions and opportunities for improvements and reductions? Valerie talks about strategy and options. She mentioned that having a great partner like 3Degrees helped them to break down those options and figure out the levels and pillars that they could employ at each of their locations and for each of their business units.

From there, they start with the building blocks of what makes sense for each unit and location. They are currently doing onsite solar where it fits but because of the unique footprint, they rely more on contractual arrangements and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. There is no one size fits all.

Key takeaways and lessons learned

In this episode, we learn how it's important to identify who the stakeholders are, that you must understand this is a long game with a lot of complexity and options, that telling stories and meeting people where they are personally—in accordance with their values—and THEN aligning the renewables work to the broader mission of the company, is all a process that takes finesse and time.

Things rarely happen as planned. They will often take longer than you expect and some things will just fall together. Be ready to pivot and allocate or reallocate money to get things across the finish line. There are a lot of surprises; flexibility, adaptability, and a Plan B will go a long way and be tremendously helpful.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Today’s Guests

Valerie Cardwell, Executive Director, Office of Sustainability, Comcast NBCUniversal

Valerie Cardwell is with Comcast NBCUniversal’s Office of Sustainability and is responsible for the implementation of strategic initiatives in support of Comcast NBCUniversal’s Sustainability goals of Zero Waste, Zero Emissions, and 100% Renewable Energy. Valerie has been with Comcast NBCUniversal for 12 years and previously worked in organizations involving customer service, regulatory policy, and operations compliance. She previously worked at the broadband startup, Covad Communications, and Verizon where she led teams that developed and implemented operational processes that improved customer service, reduced service delivery cycle times and lowered overall costs. Valerie also executed several deals with suppliers that avoided costly litigation, increased productivity, and improved the business relationship among the companies.
In addition to her corporate experience, Valerie has worked in the consulting field. Valerie worked with Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms in the areas of leadership development and strategic planning. Valerie has a BS degree in Computer Science from Seton Hall University and an MBA in International Business from Rutgers University. Valerie considers serving her community as part of her DNA and has a personal mission statement to increase children’s exposure to life’s opportunities.

Rebecca (Becky) Sternberg, 3Degrees

Rebecca Sternberg is Vice President, Energy and Climate Practice at 3Degrees. In her role, Rebecca leads a team of experts helping corporate, university and other leaders meet their renewable energy commitments. In prior roles, Rebecca originated, led, and closed a 100MW aggregation in PJM amongst corporate buyers taking relatively equal shares; including Bloomberg, Cox Communications, Gap, Salesforce, Workday and Starbucks. She enabled a large retail energy provider in ERCOT, on behalf of their corporate customers to bring a 200MW project to contract. She also led the origination and negotiation of a 110 MW VPPA in PJM on behalf of a leading corporation, and actively initiated and negotiated other corporate, university and retail opportunities in PJM, ERCOT, MISO, and CAISO.

Rebecca founded and grew the Sustainability Practice at Accenture in the early 2000s. She brings over 17 years of experience in consulting, customer experience and corporate development strategy, technology implementation, and corporate sustainability program design with organizations such as Ernst & Young, Accenture and Kaiser Permanente. In those capacities, she served clients including Chevron, Waste Management, Microsoft, multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and many others.
Rebecca holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio, an MS in Health Science from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, a Graduate Certificate in Economics from the University of York (England) and a BA cum laude from Mount Holyoke College.

Beth Wytiaz, SVP, Global Environmental Operations Manager, Bank of America

Beth Wytiaz is part of the Global Environmental Group within the Environmental, Social, Governance division of Bank of America. Beth has worked in the environmental space for the past 13 years with 10 years being at Bank of America. In her current role as the Global Environmental Operations Manager, she is responsible for reducing the bank's impact on natural resources. This encompasses setting and achieving all public environmental operations goals. This includes becoming carbon neutral; purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable sources; reducing waste, water, paper, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and energy use; managing e-waste; sourcing paper sustainably and executing the responsible sourcing program. In addition to this work, she leads the GHG emissions calculations and disclosure efforts.

Beth has a Master’s degree in Humanities with a focus in Environmental Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing/Merchandising; both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters, serves on the board of SpringClean and the Market Leadership Board for USGBC Carolinas as well as volunteering with a variety of other organizations. She is passionate about social and environmental issues and seeks to engage others to drive change.

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