When I first came to New Orleans to work on energy policy for Global Green, I knew very little about a topic that I needed to know a lot about.  My first week at Global Green launched me into the energy policy world, and at first unknotting the tangle of information and juggling the many acronyms (IRP, RFP, RPS, Q & A, RSVP, M&Ms, lol) of my supervisor Linda Stone’s work proved a little intimidating...

Despite my initial reservations, in only a few months I have learned enough about energy policy, energy efficiency, and green building to not only engage in brainstorming and analysis with coworkers, members of the City government and nonprofit partners, but also to have a direct impact on the behavior and quality of life of New Orleans’ residents. I have quickly become an energy policy nerd (I prefer ninja), and I am not ashamed to admit it.

One of the more important projects that initiated my transformation has been the editing work on the City of Youngstown, Ohio’s Greenhouse Gas Report. My paradoxical role has been to both tighten and expand this document, making sure that it is as readable and informative as possible while also researching alternatives, recommendations, and anything else that will help the Youngstown government green its rusty city.

My research on this project has led me down the rabbit hole, jumping from greener options for treating wastewater, to case studies on LED lighting in other cities, to the incentives and arguments for renewable energy, to tips on how building owners can engage their residents in energy efficiency campaigns.

Through this project, not only have I been introduced to the array of energy issues that cities across the United States face, but I have clarified my role in Global Green’s green world.  My role here is to research the important topics, from Entergy’s Integrated Resource Plan to the LPSC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, and then help New Orleanians and others understand why they should care. In other words, first I learn why something is important, and then I help others skip the confusions and convolutions and just get down to business.

In my mind, the environmentally-crucial problems addressed by energy policy work have gone from vague but daunting blurs off my radar to the issues I grapple with on a daily basis. Finding my passion for this new field has been vital to both enjoying my work at Global Green and becoming a productive and effective member of the team.

At first my work was hard, but now I am accepting any chance to make it even harder. I look forward to working with the City Council and government, the Louisiana Public Service Commission and our passionate nonprofit allies on whatever important issues come our way, and hope to look back next September on a positively-changed New Orleans.

-Patrick Orr, Oil Spill Policy Response VISTA, Global Green New Orleans