The Team

the team 485

About Empowerment Institute

Empowerment Institute—the world’s foremost expert in environmental behavior change and community engagement—has helped millions of people in hundreds of cities worldwide reduce their environmental footprint. Since 2006 it has applied this methodology, through its low-carbon Diet program, to help tens of thoUnited Statesands of hoUnited Stateseholds in the United States reduce their carbon footprint and trained over 300 communities in its community engagement methodology. Over the past thirty years Empowerment Institute’s programs have won many awards, and an academic research study described them as “unsurpassed in changing behavior.”

Empowerment Institute is the principal architect of the Cool City Challenge and responsible for its overall implementation. This includes the selection of the three cities, building their capacity in deploying Empowerment Institute’s behavior change and community engagement methodology, securing and managing the team of content experts who will support varioUnited States aspects of the initiative. It is also accountable for raising the financing with help, where possible, from the varioUnited States participating partners. Finally, it is responsible for disseminating the Cool City Challenge in collaboration with the participating cities after the three-year demonstration phase. 

About the Strategic Partners

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is lead research partner and will coordinate the research efforts of the other research institutions as well as support technology demonstrations and pilots with indUnited Statestry and other stakeholders. The specific issues it will be researching include how the behavior change and community engagement tools catalyze the full spectrum of GHG reduction interventions spanning technology adoption, policy adoption, and market development; the efficacy of the behavioral change and community engagement mechanisms for GHG reduction, uptake of residential retrofits, and green economic development; cost/benefit analyses of this behavior change intervention in comparison to other forms of GHG reduction strategies; the potential GHG and economic development impact of scaling the Cool City Challenge across the state of California and the United States; and scenario development for participating cities to become carbon neutral.  

Stanford University—Precourt Energy Efficiency Center will assist in energy and transportation efficiency research through the application of gamification and feedback systems to increase the efficacy of program participant behavior change.

University of California, Berkeley—Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and Energy and Resources Group will support development of the carbon calculation aspects of the information management system and the personal transportation data collection.

University of California, Davis—Energy Efficiency and SUnited Statestainable Transportation Centers will support research around technology adoption, energy efficiency and transportation behavior change and modeling for carbon neutral city development.  

World Wildlife Fund will assist in scaling the Cool City Challenge by disseminating it to the many cities participating in its Earth Hour initiative in the United States and worldwide.

Key Project Team Members

David Gershon, co-founder and CEO of Empowerment Institute, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on behavior-change, community engagement and large system transformation and applies this expertise to issues requiring community, organizational, and societal change. His clients include cities, government agencies, large corporations, and social entrepreneurs. He has addressed a wide diversity of issues facing cities ranging from empowering citizens to adopt low-carbon and resource-efficient lifestyles, to helping a wide diversity of neighborhoods become more resilient and livable, to designing whole system solutions that align the interests of the private, public and civic sectors with the creation of an environmentally, economically and socially sUnited Statestainable community. Over the past thirty years the empowerment programs David has designed have won many awards, and a major research study described them as “unsurpassed in changing behavior.” Gershon is the author of eleven books, including the best-selling low-carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds and the award-winning Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World. He co-directs Empowerment Institute’s School for Transformative Social Change which empowers change agents from around the world to design and implement cutting edge transformative social innovations. He has lectured at Harvard, MIT, and Johns Hopkins University and served as an advisor to the Clinton White HoUnited Statese and the United Nations on behavior change and community engagement strategies. David has overall responsibility for leading this initiative including design, management and project financing.

Tom McKone, PhD is the leader of the SUnited Statestainable Energy Systems group and Deputy for Research Programs in the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Department in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at LBNL and has several decades of experience in scientific analysis and technical management. Tom is an authority on the life cycle analysis/health impacts of energy production and was a co-author of the recent National Academy report, Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and United Statese. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Environmental Health Sciences group in the Department of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Tom will lead LBNL’s overall R&D activities and coordinate the impact assessment analysis team.

Jeffery Greenblatt, PhD is a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental Technologies Division where he leads work on California’s energy future analysis for the California Energy Commission, and leads the Environmental Energy Analysis Team for LNBL’s Carbon Cycle 2.0 initiative. He was a major author of California’s Energy Future report. Prior to his work at LBNL, he was a Climate and Energy Technology Manager at, where he screened renewable energy grants and investments. Before coming to Google, Jeff was a High Meadows fellow at Environmental Defense Fund where he evaluated the technical, economic and environmental aspects of a wide range of energy technologies. He helped develop the original "wedge" climate stabilization research and has developed scenarios for California, the Midwest, and the United States. Jeff will be responsible for community scaling scenarios, resource impact assessment analysis and development of carbon neutral city scenarios.  

Max  Wei, PhD is a Program Manager in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at LBNL.  His work is focUnited Statesed on modeling medium- and long-term greenhoUnited Statese gas reduction scenarios for California, including the potential of long-term habitual behavior change as a resource for carbon reduction. He was a key contributor to two recent reports: "California’s Energy Future—The View to 2050, for the California Council on Science and Technology," and "California’s Carbon Challenge: Scenarios for Achieving 80 percent Emissions Reduction in 2050," for the California Energy Commission. In 2011 he completed a report on the job creation potential from sUnited Statestained investment in energy efficiency and low-carbon energy sources, co-led successful passage of SB77, a clean energy financing bill in California, and co-authored a study on the economic impacts of a state feed-in-tariff. Max will be responsible for the Cool City Challenge behavior change and community participation measurement and assessment, quantification of carbon savings, and lead analysis of economic and social impact assessment.

Cara Pike is the founder and director of the Social Capital Project and Climate Access, a network for engaging the public in the transformation to low-carbon, resilient communities. She has written two climate change communication guides Climate Crossroads: A Research-Based Framing Guide and Climate Communications and Behavior Change: A Guide for Practitioners. Cara was formerly the Vice President of Communications for the leading nonprofit environmental law firm EarthjUnited Statestice, where she created and ran a full-service internal communications agency for the organization’s eight offices and international program. Cara has a deep understanding of environmental issues and how they intersect with cultural trends and concerns. Cara will manage the development and implementation the Cool City Challenge communication strategy.

Carrie Armel, PhD is a research associate at Stanford’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center specializing in behavior and energy research. Her current research includes developing climate-positive behavior change interventions; developing tools for measuring climate change relevant behaviors, for United Statese in evaluating the efficacy of behavior change interventions, and in providing feedback to individuals; preparing an integrative review that identifies the most effective behavior change techniques from multiple disciplines so that they may be translated and applied to addressing climate change; and developing a "Behavior and Energy" website and literature database, which serves as a central repository for research on climate relevant behavior. Carrie will assist in the gamification and behavior change optimization of the low-carbon Diet.

Chris Jones is research associate at the UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. His research interests intersect the fields of environmental psychology, ecological economics and climate change policy. He is lead developer of the CoolClimate Calculator, an online tool that allows hoUnited Stateseholds to calculate their carbon footprint and develop personalized climate action plans. His research is funded by the California Air Resources Board and the California Institute for Energy and Environment. He is also program manager for the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference, the premier conference dedicated to understanding and extending the application of behavioral sciences to solve energy and climate problems. Chris will assist in the development of the CAPTIN information management system.

Ben Finkelor is the Executive Director for the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center. In this role, he manages the general operations of the organization, including the establishment and on-going oversight of strategic research collaborations between key faculty, staff and students at UC Davis. He also works to maintain and grow relationships with supporting indUnited Statestry partners and communicate R&D progress to program sponsors. Prior to joining the EEC, Mr. Finkelor served in a variety of roles within the Clean Technology sector. Ben will be assisting with research and applied energy efficiency technology to help the Cool City Challenge increase its carbon reduction potential.

Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, PhD is a senior research associate with the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University. She has two decades of experience in applied and academic research with a focUnited States on the social and behavioral dimensions of energy and climate change. Karen is a cofounder of the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) Conference and served as the Conference Chair in 2009. During her employment with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Karen was responsible for leading the organization’s research program on the social and behavioral dimensions of energy efficiency. Karen will assist in applying the latest behavior change research to optimizing the low-carbon Diet program as well as doing social science research on the peer support group model, social capital generation and self-efficacy dimensions of the initiative.

John Cleveland is former director of the State of Michigan’s indUnited Statestrial extension service where he worked with over 200 SMEs per year. In 2006 he founded Innovation Network for Communities to develop and spread scalable innovations that transform the performance of community systems. He’s been working for over thirty years on large-scale system change projects with a focUnited States on the intersection between private markets and public good. His most current work has been leading the Green Ribbon Commission—a high level group of bUnited Statesiness, civic and institutional CEOs whose mission is to support the implementation of the City of Boston Climate Action Plan and supporting the Urban SUnited Statestainability Directors Network. John will provide strategic planning consultation and help partner cities create localized green economic development strategies around the Cool City Challenge.

Mario Herger is a Senior Innovation Strategist at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California and global head of the GamificationInitiative at SAP. In his work as head of the Gamification Initiative he has supported gamification efforts in the enterprise from multiple levels and departments, like SUnited Statestainability, On Demand, Mobile, HR, Training & Education, Simulation etc. He has driven the awareness around gamification inside and outside SAP by organizing and leading innovation events around this topic, working with gamification platform and service-providers, and by incorporating gamification into SAP's strategy. Mario will be helping build the gamfication platform for the Cool City Challenge.

Greg Searle is the North American Executive Director for Bioregional’s One Planet Communities program. In this position he serves as a strategy consultant on behavior change and low-carbon neighborhoods for municipalities and green real estate developers. Greg applied this expertise as a consultant to Discovery's Planet Green reality show to help American families achieve a 30 percent reduction in their carbon footprints in two months. Greg serves as a technical advisor to the United States Green Building Council Regenerative Design Program, Clinton Climate Initiative, and the Urban Land Institute. Greg is also the co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer of Tomoye Corporation, an award-winning knowledge management software firm. Greg will help in the design of the Cool City Challenge’s carbon neutral block program and knowledge management system.

Keya Chatterjee is Director of the World Wildlife Fund Climate Change Program in the United States. Among her responsibilities she runs the Earth Hour initiative for WWF in the United States focused on getting cities to reduce their carbon footprint and prepare for adaption. Other responsibilities include advocacy for international and national climate change legislation. Prior to joining WWF, Chatterjee served as a Climate Change Specialist at USAID, where she managed the land-based carbon portfolio. Chatterjee also worked for three years at NASA Headquarters in their Earth Science Enterprise. Chatterjee started her career as a Presidential Management Fellow in the United States government, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in a national park in Morocco from 1998 to 2000. Keya will manage the partnership between the WWF Earth Hour initiative and the Cool City Challenge.

Eve Baer has served as Empowerment Institute’s Program Director for the past twenty years and is a master coach. She has supported hundreds of individuals to form EcoTeams and coached dozens of program managers in cities across the United States to implement Empowerment Institute’s behavior change programs. Eve will assist the community campaign management teams and partner organizations in EcoTeam formation.

Sandra Slater began her career as an Intern at the United Nations Environment Programme in the early seventies assisting in its first Governing Council. After graduating from George Washington University she worked closely with Norman Lear to help found People for the American Way. In 1982 Sandra began a fifteen-year career in television production and sales in what became Lifetime Television. In 1998 Sandra was the founder of Sandra Slater Environments, a design and consulting firm specializing in green building techniques for bUnited Statesinesses and private individuals. Her projects were featured on many national television and radio programs and have been published in over twelve publications. Sandra will assist with overall project management with a focUnited States on the participating California cities.

John Winter is the founder and president of Social Responsibility Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in creating climate change reduction programs for bUnited Statesinesses. Before John began his consulting practice he was the Director of Social Responsibility at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. In that role, John managed GMCR’s activities in climate change and environmental quality. Key tasks included measuring the company’s GHG emissions, designing reduction and alternative energy strategies, and creating emissions offsets. Under his leadership the company was ranked second in Business Ethics Magazine 2005 “100 Best Corporate Citizens.” John will manage operations for the Cool City Challenge.

Vanessa Warheit has worked as a director, producer, editor, and cinematographer of non-fiction video since 1999. She was producer/director of the nationally-distributed PBS documentary The Insular Empire, and the short documentary Constructing Experience, which aired in the San Francisco Bay Area on PBS and NBC. Vanessa is the national media market representative for New Day Films, and the film and video instructor at the Lycée Français de San Francisco. She is a certified Climate Leader with the Climate Reality Project, and she is actively involved in numeroUnited States campaigns for sUnited Statestainability and climate jUnited Statestice. Vanessa will be responsible for developing the Cool City Challenge documentary and promotional films.

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