Monday, August 9, 2010

My Green Job

The Commercial Appeal recently profiled the "green" job of one of our employees, Robert Johnston. See the story here.

Age: 47

Hometown: Lifelong Memphian

I have an associate degree in Engineering Technology (State Tech) and a bachelor degree in Marketing (University of Memphis), Certified Energy Manager

Personal: single, but not available

Civic involvement: I'm a member of the Wolf River Conservancy and volunteer my time with their projects and I have served as a "Loaned Executive" for United Way.

Hobbies: self-taught and upcoming "local artist" (acrylics) alot of my work has environmental themes ck out "art by slim" at avid camper, canoer, and hiking with my two dogs, dancing at Wild Bills!

Last book read: "Life of Pi"

Favorite film: "Raising Arizona"


Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is the largest three-service municipal utility in the country, providing electricity, gas and water to all of Shelby County.

The details

Why did you choose a green career? I have always been passionate about the environment and saving the planet. Early in my career, I knew I wanted to combine my love of the outdoors and my job. When the opportunity came along at MLGW to work in energy conservation, I moved into the "green" side of our company. Since then, I have spent my entire career on the green side of MLGW.

What education/ experience did you need for your job? A two-year associate degree in some speciality of engineering technology (i.e., electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, etc.) is required to be an energy technician.

Most recent job(s): Energy technician for 10 years working with Residential Programs;

Commercial energy marketer for 10 years working with companies/industries to implement energy saving programs;

Supervisor of residential green programs for the past three years.

Career highlights: Our area just launched a Rental Ordinance Program (the first of its type in U.S. utilities), which forces landlords to make improvements on their properties to stop wasting energy.

We just received a $6 million stimulus block grant from the Obama administration to weatherize 700 low-income homes.

What's the hardest thing about finding work in your field (in the Greater Memphis area)? In our part of the country, energy conservation is just now really catching on. Due to our historically lower energy rates, we haven't had the same economic incentive to get on the green bandwagon. And that lack of need has not driven a strong green awareness. That mindset is changing now as people are becoming more environmentally aware, and now "green jobs" like mine, are more in demand.

What one green practice would you recommend to others? My green practice advice is very simple. Just use a little less of everything every time you can. My dad use to drive me crazy by making us kids always turn the light out when we left a room. These days I reach for the switch without even thinking about it. You save percent for every degree you raise or lower your thermostat. If we all used less we would all have more.

What green trends would you like to see in the future? As far as green trends, I'd like to see the world stop using fossil fuels and seek out sustainable alternatives, but conservation is the key. The less we use, the less we have to produce.

-- Compiled by Emily Adams Keplinger

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