Multimedia Intern, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
On the day I meet with DOER’s Leading by Example Director Eric Friedman, the sky is gray outside. His office is dark, but Eric doesn’t stop to turn on the lights when we enter. As I’m about to mention it, Eric starts talking so I grab my pen and paper and start taking notes. Later, he tells me he doesn’t use his office lights often to save energy.
“Leading by Example is Governor Patrick’s program for greening state government,” Eric said. “Getting state government to reduce environmental impacts and adopt clean energy strategies is the overall objective.”
Eric’s job is to set goals and review the performance of existing state buildings as well as foster higher energy performance in new construction of state buildings. He also identifies program priorities, key stakeholders, and new technologies and strategies that can help state government reach its energy targets, and distributes information across the state about energy-saving options available to state agencies and facilities.
“What I enjoy most about working on the program is the diversity of issues and people you get to work with—from million-dollar solar projects to lower cost energy-saving lighting for a parking lot. I get to work everyone from agency commissioners and community college presidents to the facility managers and others working day-to-day to implement sustainable practices at state facilities,” he said.
Eric started his government career with the city of New York where he worked on urban recycling and waste minimization programs. After he left New York, he earned a degree in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University. Shortly after graduation, he went to work for the State Purchasing Office, establishing a first-in-the-nation environmental purchasing program to reduce government environmental impacts by helping government agencies use products that were more energy efficient, created less waste and reduced or eliminated -toxics.
“What I like about state government is that it’s large enough to make an impact, but small enough to feel like you’re getting something done,” he said.
An example, he said, is Mount Wachusett Community College, which went from being an all electric campus built in the 1970s to being a near zero-carbon campus, by implementing comprehensive energy efficiency measures and installing a biomass plant for heating, solar PV and solar thermal, and two large 1.65 MW wind turbines.
Eric also mentioned the Massachusetts Department of Correction as a leader, pointing to the installation of over 1 MW of solar PV, its successful recycling program and the installation of two wind turbines at its prison in Gardner.
He also serves as the deputy director of the Green Communities Division encourages cities and towns looking to improve energy efficiency to check out all the examples of what facilities have done in the past. There's always more work to be done and the local level is a great place to start, said Eric.