MBA Faculty’s Sustainability Initiatives in the Ecovation Hub

Antioch University New England Core Faculty and MBA Program Director, Taryn Fisher, has been participating in the Ecovation Hub Initiative, since January 2016. It is a collaborative effort to replace lost jobs and boost economic and sustainable development in the tri-state region of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts following the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant closure.

The focus of the Ecovation Hub Initiative is on sustainability, with initial efforts targeting research, design and product development, manufacturing, and construction of high-performance buildings and communities.

As a member of the Ecovation Hub Product and Services Team, Fisher led the first phase of the LEAN Energy Retrofit Team. She presented the team findings at the Ecovation Hub Initiatives Milestone #3 meeting in October 2016 at Marlboro College in Vermont and shared, “The recommendation was twofold: first, to broaden and deepen services provided by energy coaches, and second, to reconfigure the business model so that savings gleaned at the tail end of an energy retrofit be applied to energy coach services provided at the front end of the process.”

View Fisher’s presentation starting at 23:21:

The next phase will be to collaborate with investors, commercial lending institutions, insurance firms, and the utilities to reconfigure the business model, which Fisher believes, “Will boost the rate of energy retrofits considerably.”  Going forward, Fisher will participate in the second phase of the LEAN Energy Retrofit Team, which will be launched once funding is in place. For the second phase of this project, a 500-unit pilot test is planned. The goal of the pilot test is to further refine the residential energy retrofit process, to identify a feasible business model, and to develop specifications for a comprehensive, customer-focused energy coach certification program.

Elaborating further on its mission, Fisher said, “Our goal was to unbundle the residential energy retrofit process so that we could better understand bottlenecks and pain-points from the home owner’s perspective.”  Fisher learned that home owners pursue energy retrofits to increase comfort, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and to save money. Unfortunately, understanding the linkages among air infiltration, moisture, insulation, and heating/cooling systems can be, for the average home owner, quite overwhelming. “Complicating things is that, while a home should function as a holistic system, service providers tend to work in silos,” Fisher said. Thus, complex and persistent barriers impede capturing the full potential of energy efficiency and structure improvements.

In July 2017, the education sector of the Ecovation Hub Initiative was further developed when Antioch University New England, Greenfield Community College, Keene State College, and the School for International Training launched the Ecovation Hub Education and Training Consortium, dedicated to bringing broader green economy knowledge and opportunities to the tri-state area of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. A ceremonial MOU signing and networking event was held on Thursday, July 20, at Antioch University New England.

Antioch University New England’s commitments include:

  • Establishment of an Ecovation Hub Knowledge Center graduate fellowship, which has been awarded to Environmental Studies Master’s candidate Amy-Louise Pfeffer
  • Establishment of a 3+2 Bachelor’s to Master’s degree arrangement, with Keene State College, creating an accelerated and structured pathway for KSC students in the Architecture, Product Design, and Occupational Safety and Health programs into Antioch’s MBA program
  • Collaborative, dual degree development between Antioch’s Environmental Studies department and SIT

As part of the Consortium, Fisher will be a member of the team working with Keene State College in designing the in 3+2 Bachelor’s to Master’s degree arrangement and the AUNE’s MBA in Sustainability.

 

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