Since landing at BU last winter, renowned environmental expert Peter Fox-Penner has jumped in with both feet.
Fox-Penner heads up the new, University-wide Institute for Sustainable Energy. Based at the Questrom School of Business, the institute is turning a laser focus on electric industry transformation, global climate change, and smart, sustainable cities. Fox-Penner and his team are also developing energy research initiatives throughout the University and deepening connections among science, engineering, and management scholars with policy makers and corporations.
Fox-Penner, a vegan (and a big fan, naturally, of Earth, Wind & Fire), is the former chairman of the Brattle Group, where he advised major US power companies and grid operators, government agencies, and international clients on electric power and environmental policy issues. He is the author of Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities (Island Press, 2010), and his research has been widely cited, including in a Supreme Court decision.
Sustainability-minded students are also finding a home at the institute, which comprises 40 faculty members from 6 BU colleges. Its creation was coordinated with the expansion of the MBA concentration in energy and environmental sustainability at the Questrom School of Business, the master’s program in environmental policy at the College of Arts & Sciences, the master’s programs in city planning and urban affairs and graduate certificate in applied sustainability at Metropolitan College, College of Engineering courses on sustainability, and other academic programs.
The institute has its sights fixed beyond Comm Ave, too. In an effort to inform Massachusetts state legislation on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency, Fox-Penner testified before the state senate’s Oversight Committee on Global Warming. The team is also working with the City of Boston and the Green Ribbon Commission to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
“We view ourselves not just as a research center,” says Fox-Penner, “but as a think and do tank.”