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Meet BDC’s first CivicSpark Fellow

Claire Building Decarbonization Coalition

Pictured here is Claire deVroede, BDC’s CivicSpark Fellow.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and love it here. I studied religion and political science at Reed College. I got involved in climate activism in my free time, but quickly realized I wanted to devote my professional life to climate action. I enjoy watching crash course sociology videos on youtube and learning Indonesian.

What got you interested in building decarbonization? 

Building decarb interested me because I didn’t know how it was accomplished. When you step outside, it’s readily apparent how carbon intensive the state’s transportation system is, but with building decarb, everything is more covert and technical. It’s also more intimate because it involves changes that need to happen in people’s homes. This can be a challenging element but also a promising one because consumer education is actionable in a way that constructing a high speed rail is not. That’s what makes it exciting. And it’s a little slept-on in the climate activism world. 

Tell us about what you do at BDC in “policy wonk” jargon.

I work on a team that manages BDC’s zero emission buildings tracker. The tracker reflects adopted state and local government policies that address building specific operational fuel types and related emissions in the United States. I am also researching how to integrate thermal energy networks into local government policies and planning procedures so that more of them can take advantage of this innovative solution to decarbonize buildings at scale. I also co-lead the fellow Energy Network.

Tell us about what you do at BDC like you were speaking with someone who has never heard of a heat pump.

Many government entities have passed policies to reduce emissions from buildings. I compile that data to show trends across the country. I am also researching different existing sources and sinks of heat (like lakes, data centers, sewage mains) to help local governments heat and cool buildings in the most efficient and effective way possible. I organize a network of my peers to help share this information.  

Tell us about one thing you’ve learned so far in your role?

I’ve learned some no-brainer stuff I wish I had learned a long time ago, like a heat pump removes the need for an AC and a gas furnace because it provides both heating and cooling. I want everyone to know that. In addition, I am learning about ways we can protect renters as we electrify existing buildings which is very important. Also, ambient water loops are the next big thing.  

Do you have any advice for young professionals looking to work in climate and specifically building decarbonization?

My generation already understands the climate crisis pretty well. All of our struggles are connected. Learn about how your climate focus, whether it’s building decarb or something else, interacts with other serious issues, like public health or affordability. I think finding solutions across sectors will make our work more equitable and transformational.

Are you interested in learning more about hosting a CivicSpark Fellow at your organization, see this link:

Meet Bdcs First Civicspark Fellow