Scaling Clean and Scaling Smart

Scale Clean. Scale Smart.

The next iteration of Barr’s Clean Energy program aims at transformation in the Northeast energy sector.

The U.S. Northeast is at an energy crossroads. Successful efforts to phase out the dirtiest fuels, promote energy efficiency, and regulate carbon have put this region at the forefront of a global response to climate change. However, reducing emissions to the extent we know to be necessary—80% by 2050—will require a concerted push to deploy cleaner energy and achieve deeper efficiencies. Towards that end, I am pleased to share the new focus for the next iteration of the Barr Foundation’s Clean Energy strategies, which is to catalyze efforts to help the region scale clean and scale smart. By this, we mean accelerating a massive scale-up of renewables and energy efficiency across the Northeast, promoting efforts to make the grid smarter to allow for that scale up, and supporting learning networks that help cities and states to get smarter about the most effective strategies from around the world.

To learn more about our grantmaking priorities and how to introduce new funding and partnership ideas to us, I encourage you to visit our new Clean Energy strategies page.

Our region begins 2016 with a great deal of successes to build upon. Boston and Massachusetts have achieved (and maintained) the #1 rankings as the most energy-efficient city and state in the country. Communities in Greater Boston are taking leadership on implementing clean energy and new mobility initiatives. Other Northeastern states have also demonstrated leadership—including through collaboration in the highly successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon cap and trading program that has been lifting economies and lowering emissions across the region.

These are encouraging signs of progress. Yet, as we engaged in strategic planning over the past year, we carefully considered key trends shaping the context of our work (I elaborated on these in this post), the opportunities before us, and where we believe Barr can make the greatest contribution. In the process, it became clear that the time had come to evolve our approach from advancing the incremental gains necessary to achieve near-term emissions goals, to catalyzing dramatic, transformative change in energy generation and use across the region.

As Jim Canales, Barr’s president, has emphasized throughout our planning process, and again in this post today, these new strategies build on a solid body of work done over many years. By design, they are more evolution than revolution. Yet, I will call attention to two distinct changes in the Clean Energy portfolio.

The first important shift for us will be geography. To date, we have focused on Boston and Massachusetts. Going forward, we will seek targeted opportunities to advance clean energy across the whole Northeast.

The other distinctive evolution in our work is in scale. Historically we focused on promoting changes in the behavior and practices of individual organizations and some sectors, like health care and commercial real estate. Going forward, our ambition is for even bolder, systemic impact, market transformation, and a new generation of forward-looking clean energy policies taking hold across the region. We know this will require the voice and leadership not only of nonprofits and foundations that care about these issues, but also of many other types of partners as well.

To see the region powered by clean energy will require radical reinvention of energy system across the Northeast. This is both ambitious and absolutely necessary.

View our Clean Energy strategies

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