Staff picks: GreenerU’s showcase of sustainable lifestyle choices

GreenerU strives to empower our clients in exploring pathways to lower greenhouse gas emissions and develop planet-healthy habits. But what do we do when no one is looking?


Sustainability and climate action are embedded into the very fabric of GreenerU’s culture. As we continue to make strides in climate change mitigation through our work, we take a look at what motivates us to take care of the planet and what efforts we’re making at home.

The birds and the bees and biodiversity

Jody Renouf, vice president of operations, has worked in the energy sector for many years and continues to share his knowledge with others. “I volunteer on a non-profit sustainability committee that educates the community on what climate action steps they can take,” he says.

As a homeowner, Jody strives to consider the environment in all aspects of the home. He has steadily been replacing the outdoor plantings with native plants that draw and nourish pollinators and delaying winter and spring cleanup. “Those leftover leaves and stems provide cover for insects and other creatures at the bottom of the food chain to thrive and encourage biodiversity,” he says. 

Some ways to preserve biodiversity at home include:

“Many households making climate-friendly commitments—both big and small—collectively make significant progress,” he adds.

Getting into hot water

Rob Durning, chief executive officer, has been inspired to work in sustainability since his college days. He worked in a lab focusing on solar cells. “This work got me interested in the cleantech world, and inspired me to continue my studies at Northeastern for graduate school.” It was through Northeastern’s co-op program that he began his employment at GreenerU.

Despite its challenges, Rob continues to work in climate action because “I can be proud of what I do, and know that I am dedicating my career to a worthy cause.”

As an individual, he chooses to purchase 100% renewable energy for his home, eat locally sourced produce, and grow a vegetable garden. He estimates that about 70% of his family’s waste stream is diverted to the town’s recycling program.

His home also has LED lighting and uses an instantaneous condensing hot water heater to reduce standby losses, which keeps the home’s annual energy use intensity (EUI) as low as possible.

Rob loves successfully delivering energy and carbon reduction for customers. “The sense of accomplishment is gratifying.”

Ditching plastic

Madeline Rawson, project coordinator, finds the challenges of climate change to be fulfilling work. “I love problem solving, and climate change is one of the biggest problems we’re facing,” she says.

As a consumer, Madeline has made conscious decisions to decrease her waste footprint. “I’ve switched my apartment to reusable silicone bags instead of Ziplocs, beeswax food coverings instead of plastic wrap, and shampoo and conditioner bars,” she says. “These changes, along with others, have made a noticeable difference in the amount of plastic waste I generate.”

“While our society is set up in a way that gives us very little power to make an impact on carbon emissions through individual action, plastic waste is a cultural issue that has alternatives many individuals can easily access.”

Insulation for improved energy efficiency

Tom Inman, project manager, believes that every individual action can create positive ripple effects in the future. “The better habits around climate action that we all take now, will help motivate future generations and a larger collection of people to continue those habits and continue to make more necessary steps.”

Over time, Tom has converted all of his household lighting to LED and is currently installing new doors and windows to improve insulation. Tom aims to continue to make small home improvements to improve efficiency.

“Nothing will happen all at once on a large scale, but starting small can create a big difference down the line.”

Making the switch

Daniela Miranda, project coordinator, has always wanted her work to do good for other people. “I want my life to be positive, to work in service of others,” she says. “Working to combat the largest challenge of this generation inspired me to find ways to make a positive impact while also finding innovative ways to solve a complex problem.”

As a consumer, Daniela has identified a number of ways to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. She’s decreased her meat consumption and limited her animal-based protein intake to chicken and turkey, focusing more on locally grown and plant-based meals. She purchases renewable energy through her local municipal light plant and unplugs electronics.

She is also conscientious about chemicals of concern and toxic materials, and is trying to address that by finding sustainable alternatives for deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, toothbrushes, and even cooking and baking materials. Some of her favorite finds include:

Electrifying to decarbonize

Jen Haugh, vice president of planning and customer engagement, has undergone efforts to electrify her home and transportation. “For the last 20 or more years, I’ve been wanting to shed my gas-powered vehicle and go electric,” she says. “I finally bit the bullet and got a used Hyundai Kona EV.”

Just as the pandemic was starting, she moved into a new home in Maynard, Mass., and immediately began exploring options to install air source heat pumps, which largely replaced the oil-based heating system of the house.

“The benefit of heat pumps is, ironically, that they can provide cooling, too. And as we are experiencing hotter summers in New England, air conditioning is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury,” she adds.

She also replaced her oil-based water heater with a solar-assisted heat pump. Nearly all of these moves toward electrification were eligible for state and/or federal benefits, coupled with purchasing all-renewable electricity:

“My dream is to close the loop on electricity supply by installing solar panels on my rooftop,” she says. “Then I could disconnect entirely from the grid.”

Energized by renewables

Walter Lee, project development engineer, has a lifelong passion for and commitment to sustainability. “In 1990, I wrote a report on the ozone layer and global warming for a biology class. This experience gave me the right mindset and passion to reduce humanity’s environmental effects.”

Walter has been practicing sustainability since high school. “This experience gave me the right mindset and passion to reduce humanity’s environmental effects.”

His career continues to be his primary way of practicing and promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. “I have helped many institutions reduce their carbon footprint by reducing the energy consumption of their facilities and by pursuing a facility’s holistic approach in energy auditing.” 

An expert on renewable energy systems, he developed one of the first Massachusetts solar photovoltaic arrays on a school’s rooftop in Newburyport, Mass., in 2010.

Green transportation

Marketing intern Alex DeCecca learned about arctic melting and the negative effects of sea level rise from a college course at Mass Maritime Academy.

“I took a class last year called Polar Shipping,” she says. “The professor, who was a Master Mariner back in the day, saw firsthand the negative effects of climate change on the Arctic ice and the countries within the Arctic circle. 

“Knowing he worked firsthand within that field, and saw how the melting of the ice due to a warming of the global climate, the class had a great level of respect for him and his teachings. Seeing the diagrams showing ice ‘then vs. now’ was scary—it made me want to take action. But sometimes instilling fear helps get the ball rolling.”

As a college student, Alex spends the majority of her time on campus, walking from building to building. In addition to sharing a car with her sister, Alex is thankful that her internship was remote, as it eliminated commuting costs. 

Sustainability and climate action at GreenerU starts with us. We would love to hear from you on ways you’ve adopted a more sustainable lifestyle. Reach out and talk to us!

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