Co-Chairs of the Renewable Thermal Collaborative’s Community Benefits Advisory Board Appointed to Support Equitable Thermal Energy Transition

Co-Chairs of the Renewable Thermal Collaborative’s Community Benefits Advisory Board Appointed to Support Equitable Thermal Energy Transition

January 29, 2024 (Washington, DC) – Trina Mallik, Vice President for Global Programs at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and Thom Kay, Program Manager for Energy Transition at the BlueGreen Alliance, have recently been elected to serve as the inaugural co-chairs of the Community Benefits Advisory Board (CBAB) of the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC), with the goal of supporting initiatives that reaffirm the RTC’s commitment to advancing a thermal energy transition that is just, equitable, inclusive, and accessible.

As a global coalition for companies, institutions, and government entities committed to scaling up the use of renewable heating and cooling at their facilities to drastically cut carbon emissions, the RTC has an ambitious goal to slash U.S. industrial thermal energy emissions by 30% over the next decade. CBAB members are charged with providing the advice, guidance, and support necessary for the development of activities that will ensure RTC’s advocacy for renewable thermal technologies considers community impacts, benefits, and opportunities.

Launched in October 2023, CBAB consists of the following six members:

  • Eddie Guerra, Vice-President, Rizzo International
  • Thom Kay, Program Manager, BlueGreen Alliance
  • Trina Mallik, Vice President of Programs, Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC)
  • Sacha-Rose Phillips, Program Officer, McKnight Foundation
  • Jerome Shabazz, Executive Director, Overbrook Environmental Education Center
  • Alexa White, Co-founder, AYA Institute

Board members were introduced at the 2023 RTC Annual Summit held in October 2023 in Washington, D.C. —an event that brings together thermal energy stakeholders from around the world to discuss advancements and barriers in renewable heating and cooling for the purposes of speeding up industrial sector decarbonization.

“It’s an honor to have a role on this Board, particularly at this point in time,” said co-chair Trina Mallik. “The reduction of industrial thermal emissions stands to be one of the most significant actions we can undertake to meet global climate goals. Right now, the industrial sector emits nearly 1/3 of all GHG emissions, so there’s a lot of work to be done. And if we want this transition to be successful, all evidence has shown that it must be an inclusive, whole-of-society effort.” 

A central role of CBAB members is also to support the RTC community in accessing federal investments and incentives for industrial decarbonization and integrating the community benefits framework into broader decarbonization efforts. One pathway for achieving this is by uplifting the Justice40 Initiative, which directs that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments—including clean energy and energy efficiency—flow to disadvantaged communities.

“The fundamental responsibility of this board is to ensure that the energy transition benefits everyone—especially workers and fence-line communities,” said co-chair Thom Kay. “We’re going to do this by working closely with organizations, workers, and companies implementing changes on the ground and helping them identify and pursue opportunities to succeed while workers and communities benefit.”

The RTC’s community benefits work is facilitated by Carlos Claussell, Manager for Climate, DEI, and Environmental Justice at WWF. “The convening of this board is an incredible opportunity to advance social, environmental, and economic co-benefits for disadvantaged communities through the RTC’s work on the renewable thermal energy transition,” said Claussell. “Our approach is to leverage RTC member’s industrial decarbonization, environment and sustainability strategies and practices with the federal community benefits framework under national policies like IRA, BIL, Justice40 and Investing in America’s Workforce. .”

“The RTC is committed to supporting members, sponsors, policymakers, and other decision-makers in ensuring that the renewable thermal transition is just, equitable, inclusive, and accessible,” said Blaine Collison, Executive Director of the RTC. “

Work is currently underway on supporting RTC members in navigating workforce and community engagement requirements as part of IRA incentives and investments in renewable energy and integrating a community benefits framework within industrial decarbonization strategies and best practices. More information and updates on CBAB are available on the RTC website.

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RTC is a global coalition of companies, institutions, and governments committed to helping reach midcentury climate goals by scaling up renewable heating and cooling technologies at their facilities to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions. The RTC collaborates with its members and sponsors to accelerate industrial decarbonization by addressing and identifying ways to overcome the technology, policy, and market challenges that large thermal energy users face. The RTC is co-convened by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and David Gardiner and Associates (DGA). Visit https://www.renewablethermal.org/ to learn more.