2020: Twenty Years in Sustainability
As we reflect on the first half of 2020, there is no question that this year will be one for the history books. Over the last several months, our global community has been confronted with some of its greatest challenges — from the public health crisis and economic downturn caused by COVID-19, to civil unrest stemming from incidents of prejudice and racial injustice. What cannot and should not be lost in all of this, however, is the tremendous opportunity — and responsibility — before us to continue to progress toward shared sustainability goals in an effort to reduce emissions and limit the effects of climate change.
This year, Ameresco celebrates its 20th year in business. Founded on a mission to create value and provide energy efficient and renewable solutions to the organizations we serve, Ameresco is relentless in the pursuit of a sustainable future. As such, we’ve committed ourselves to staying ahead of the curve and at the leading edge of innovation taking place in the energy sector. Looking back over the last twenty years, I am proud to say that we have been successful in that endeavor for three reasons in particular; our customers, our people and our shared belief in the greater purpose of our work.
Ameresco would not be the company it is today without our customers. By choosing to prioritize efficiency and the development of clean, green energy sources, these forward-thinking public and private organizations have enabled us to thrive.
In Ameresco’s early days, the economics of energy efficiency were proven, but not as apparent to all as they are today. We were challenged to find compelling reasons–often times those that included some financial benefit–to win our customers’ trust to implement efficiency projects. In many cases, an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) would work best. One of my proudest moments in our company’s history was the completion of the Savannah River Site (SRS) cogeneration plant–a biomass wood-chip plant that is the largest facility of its kind in operation in the federal sector. That project was funded by the largest renewable ESPC to be awarded by the Department of Energy at the time–making the plant’s construction budget-neutral. Similarly, a $91 million ESPC financed our Federal Solutions team’s comprehensive energy resiliency project at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island. While both projects have generated tremendous utility cost savings for the agencies implementing them, both are also leading examples of environmental stewardship put into practice.
I am thankful for these historic projects and what they have done to prove the effectiveness of ESPCs. I am also thankful that they prove how finances alone do not drive efficiency or renewable energy projects. Rather, customers today are motivated by cost savings coupled with ESG goals and broader sustainability initiatives. We are fortunate to help our customers work toward these important goals and feel value in seeing their success.
Ameresco has done extraordinary work over the last 20 years — none of which would be possible without our people.
When you’ve been in this business as long as I have, you know that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to energy-related challenges. For that reason, a project’s success requires a braintrust of knowledgeable experts who bring unique skills and experience to the process. Innovation demands diversity of thought, and so Ameresco has done well by welcoming and celebrating employees from diverse backgrounds. Today, as our employee headcount and geographic footprint continue to grow, key appointments to our senior leadership team open new doors for our business and improve our service offerings in profound ways. We are pioneering new technologies, like battery energy storage systems and automated microgrid controls, as well as renewable energy offerings like “green gas” — all of which will be crucial in the continued effort to combat climate change. We’ve also made great strides in developing the next generation of clean energy workers, particularly through our work with colleges and universities.
Ameresco now employs more than 1,000 individuals in North America and the United Kingdom. I am more confident now than ever before in saying that people have been, and will continue to be, why Ameresco succeeds. I am deeply grateful for each and every person who is or once was part of this team.
Finally, I have long believed that Ameresco does well only because we are doing good. This notion motivates me daily, and I am humbled that it does the same for many of our employees too.
Last year, Ameresco’s customer projects and the renewable energy assets we own delivered a carbon offset of 11,167,978 metric tons of CO2 — equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from more than 27.7 billion miles driven by passenger vehicles. Our work meaningfully contributes to building a better world around us, and our shared belief in our greater purpose keeps Ameresco strong. I am hopeful that this continued drive and determination will one day make our goals for carbon neutrality and a cleaner, greener planet a reality.
Twenty years from now, I believe Ameresco will have retained its leadership position in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy for the same reasons that helped us earn it in the first place; our customers, our people and our purpose. These things, and so much more, I am thankful to celebrate in Ameresco’s 20th year.