Sherin and Lodgen – Women in Renewable Energy – Meet Deborah Howitt Easton
Assistant General Counsel, Ameresco Inc.
Deborah has been a practicing attorney for over 25 years. The majority of her career was in private practice, at Sherin and Lodgen, where her focus was on commercial real estate. In 2017 she made the move to in-house and became Assistant General Counsel to Ameresco, a leading cleantech integrator and renewable energy asset developer, owner, and operator. Ameresco’s comprehensive portfolio includes energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, and renewable energy solutions delivered to clients throughout North America and the United Kingdom.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY?
A: I fell into it a little bit. When Sherin and Lodgen’s Renewable Energy Department expanded and got really busy I would occasionally provide back-up legal support on the solar development and financing projects. So I really had only just started to get my feet wet a tad when I decided to move in-house and the Ameresco opportunity presented itself.
Q: SINCE THEN, HAVE YOU SEEN A SHIFT IN FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN RENEWABLE ENERGY?
A: I have to say I have been encouraged by the roles of women in this industry. Sherin’s department was headed by a woman and Ameresco’s legal department is majority women. We also have women heading up some of our business units. I think on the construction and engineering side of things, which have been historically male-dominated industries, I have seen some expansion of female representation, but there is still a ways to go.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF WORKING IN AN INDUSTRY AS BOOMING, AND VITAL, AS RENEWABLE ENERGY?
A: While it sounds trite, the most rewarding thing is that you do feel like your daily work is truly making a difference in improving the world. That, together with the constantly advancing technologies, changing incentive programs, and developing partnerships make this a very interesting field to work in.
Q: FROM WHAT YOU’VE SEEN, WHAT’S THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD ON THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY?
A: As is the case with a variety of industries relying on supply chains and raw materials, the supply chain delays and breakdowns and increase in material costs have had big financial impacts on many renewable projects.
Q: ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IS AT THE CORE OF YOUR WORK – WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE, SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES YOU APPLY ON A REGULAR BASIS AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE GENERAL PUBLIC ADOPT AND INTEGRATE INTO THEIR DAILY LIVES?
A: I am a big fan of the “Everything Is Free” communities on Facebook. For those who do not know, many towns have created these pages where people give away things they no longer need. Everything from furniture to books to electronics to bikes – you name it! You can also post if you are looking for something in particular. The amount of consumption, particularly in this country, is incredible. I have been able to find new homes for a number of items that avoided landfills and obtained things without having to buy new. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle at its finest.