Introducing Gabe Guenther — Membership Engagement Intern

June 12, 2024
My name is Gabe Guenther, and this summer I am joining the CEEM team as a membership engagement intern. I am delighted to be part of this organization and look forward to helping further Minnesota’s clean energy transition.

Why I chose clean energy

My interest in clean energy stems from a desire to live in a world without an overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels, where clean energy is accessible to all, regardless of economic status or location. The concept of energy democracy is central to this vision. Energy democracy advocates for an equitable distribution of energy resources and empowers communities by giving them control over their energy choices. Renewable energy accessibility is crucial for achieving energy democracy, as it ensures that everyone, including the marginalized and underserved communities often disproportionately affected by climate change, can benefit from the clean energy transition. By making renewable energy more accessible, we can reduce energy poverty, promote social equity and support local economies.

Throughout my life, it has been incredible to see how renewable energy infrastructure and accessibility have grown in the United States. That said, I always look for areas for improvement and have learned a lot about some of the unethical mining and sourcing practices that resulted from rapid demand increases for renewable energy. While the drawbacks and environmental consequences of developing clean energy infrastructure are minuscule compared to fossil fuels, there is no reason not to strive for further improvement. Better recyclability and standardization among clean energy devices will be essential to maintaining its prominence as a sustainable, long-term energy source.

Another goal of mine is to work with sustainability and clean energy initiatives in the world of professional sports someday. Soccer and sports, in general, have always been something that I am passionate about. Still, it’s hard for me not to think about the enormous environmental impact associated with this industry. There is considerable room for improvement regarding sustainability in sports, and a critical component of this that will need to be tackled is the energy consumed and, in many cases, wasted while operating mass events. The development of renewables at athletic facilities and stadiums will play an essential role in diminishing the environmental impact of such events.

Energy-related work in college

As I enter my senior year studying sustainable systems management at the University of Minnesota, I have had the opportunity to engage in various energy-related projects, including direct energy conservation efforts and educational initiatives targeted at new students and younger adults to help them become responsible and conscious energy consumers. One of these projects assessed how energy consumption among the University of Minnesota residence halls could be reduced. Last semester, our group performed a one-week-long pilot study on a singular residence hall. We engaged with the residents via tabling, surveys, and emails to help facilitate and reward their energy-saving behaviors. Next semester and beyond, we are hoping to scale the project into a bracket-style competition between all of the residence halls and incorporate a clean energy component into the project, such as a workshop and seminar to show new students how the university utilizes renewables and how renewables work with respect to the grid.

I hope to utilize the insights I’ve gained from these projects in my professional career; I feel their consumer behavior aspects align well with CEEM’s focus on the business case for the clean energy transition. Understanding energy consumption dynamics and educational initiatives’ effectiveness can help design more efficient and impactful clean energy programs. Moreover, the experience of engaging with a community to drive energy conservation efforts provides a practical foundation for working with businesses and stakeholders to implement sustainable energy practices. By applying these lessons in a professional context, I can contribute to developing strategies that promote clean energy and enhance business operations and economic growth within the renewables sector.

About me

Growing up in a rural area of Wisconsin just outside of Madison, I have always deeply appreciated the natural world. Protecting the environment has been a constant driver for me to pursue a career in sustainability and clean energy. Something about being surrounded by nature forces you to develop a unique respect for it and a sense of responsibility to preserve it. Because I didn’t live near any of my peers, soccer was always a great way for me to get to know people and make friends as a kid, and it is still a way in which I meet many people to this day. Next year, I am looking forward to getting a cat and graduating, after which I would like to move somewhere in the Southwest.

In my free time, I like to be outdoors as much as possible and stay active by playing soccer, hiking and going for runs. To relax, I’ll typically find a spot on campus to put up my hammock and watch a movie or read a book. Some of my favorite other activities in Minneapolis include visiting the city’s art museums, cideries, and food trucks.

Fun Facts

– My initials are GGG
– My favorite soccer team is Crystal Palace
– I enjoy making origami

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