IMT is laser-focused on unleashing the potential of energy-efficient buildings to improve bottom lines and property value, drive economic growth, and reduce harmful pollution to create healthier, resilient cities. Collaborating with building owners, tenants, governments, and other city and corporate stakeholders, as well as NGOs and strategic partners, IMT’s expert staff strive to catalyze collective and permanent market change. So, who is IMT? Get to know our subject matter experts in this blog series.
A recent addition to IMT, Margaret Hansbrough shares how her background in city government helps her make energy efficiency a growing trend across the country.
When did you gain an interest in energy policy, and how did you first recognize the value of building efficiency?
My interest in the environment and sustainability began pretty young—a mix of Catholic social teaching and hippie parents is a good recipe for raising a vocal environmentalist. As a career focus, energy policy was something I really started tracking during the recession since it was a strong focus of the federal recovery efforts. It really gained steam for me when I began working in local government in 2011. In particular, I spent the last few years working to advance clean energy policy and programs for the City of Chicago.
For me, energy efficiency is the perfect alignment of priorities: a business’s need to reduce costs, a city’s desire to increase investment in its building stock to grow jobs and the economy, and IMT’s dual focus on reducing carbon emissions and increasing cost-savings through energy efficiency in buildings.
What perspective do you bring from your past work?
I worked for cities for a long time and bring a very pragmatic understanding of what it takes to get something accomplished at the local level. My work in public-private partnerships also enables me to understand the needs of the private sector and then find alignment, which helps drive demand for energy efficiency.
What does market transformation mean to you, and how does your current work at IMT move us toward that goal?
Market transformation is about changing the thing itself. It’s about continually looking toward the horizon and asking market actors to remove barriers, find more value, and harness the opportunities in front of them. My role at IMT is to work with companies, utilities, and cities to identify those barriers and find the opportunities they have before them to drive demand for energy efficiency.
What is most exciting to you about working with cities and local communities?
Local communities are where the breakthroughs are happening. Local leaders are able to cut through the political noise and make things happen. Cities big and small are where the spark has been lit that has ignited the hope in the fight against climate change in the U.S. I look at cities like Newark, N.J., where IMT is currently working, and I see tremendous opportunity to drive demand for energy efficiency at the local level and help building owners and tenants save money that they can reinvest back into the local economy.
How did you come to know IMT?
I first became aware of IMT’s work when I started working with the IMT City Energy Project City Advisor in the Mayor’s Office in Chicago a few years ago. To see the arch of how the City Energy Project (CEP) has empowered cities such as Chicago is tremendous. Seeing quantifiable energy use reductions across local markets as a result of CEP’s efforts and seeing that manifest in real greenhouse gas emission reductions, all while the local economy grew—that will make you believe in the power of energy-efficient buildings.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Lack of time and imperfect information. IMT’s strong focuses on information transparency for key market actors and integrating energy efficiency into the standard operating procedures of business are intended to address these problems for cities and businesses. When implemented, these strategies help build better programs, better policies, and better business plans that can unlock the real value of energy efficiency.
What are you hoping to learn in 2018?
How to do more with less.