Skip Navigation

Holly Carr

Fellow joins DOE efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings

Holly Carr had never worked in a federal setting before, but was eager to get a sense of how the government can change the energy sector, so she applied to participate in a program supported by the Buildings Technology Program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Now she spends her days talking about energy efficiency to energy managers and sustainability staff of corporate and academic partners, and is learning how voluntary federal partnerships can encourage public and private sector investment in energy improvements.

Carr obtained a master’s degree in communications from the University of Washington before being selected to the program, where she became the DOE liaison for the Better Buildings Challenge (BBC). Launched by Presidents Obama and Clinton in 2011, the BBC now has more than 200 partners – businesses and organizations committed to reducing energy use in their domestic buildings by 20 percent over 10 years.

Holly Carr

Holly Carr (far left) stands with her fellow case judges at the 2014 Better Buildings Case Competition, which brings graduate and undergraduate students together to present ideas to address the barriers to energy efficiency in the market. As a participant in the DOE-EERE sponsored-program, Carr was instrumental in organizing this event. (Photo courtesy of Ken Shipp, DOE)

“I help these partners to report their energy use and share case studies and best practices with the public,” Carr said. “I am always trying to understand their ’secret sauce’ – their strategies for achieving energy savings – and communicate those strategies to a larger audience.” Carr also supports the partners with presenting their best practices at conferences and events, and she facilitates a monthly webinar series highlighting the partners’ work. ”

Carr and her colleagues also organize the annual Better Buildings Summit, a recognition and networking event that brings together Better Buildings partners and affiliate organizations within the commercial, industrial, multifamily and public sectors to share their strategies for achieving energy savings. The 2014 event featured keynote speeches from Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson.

Aside from her primary role as the BBC liaison, Carr has also been involved in organizing the Better Buildings Case Competition, a student competition for graduate and undergraduate students addressing the barriers to energy efficiency in the market. This year’s competition doubled the number of contestants with nearly 30 student teams presenting their innovative solutions to subject matter experts at the DOE Headquarters in Washington D.C.

To others who are thinking of applying to opportunities offered by EERE, Carr gives the same advice a former fellow gave her: “Whatever they give you to do, run with it.” She adds that, “Just about anything a fellow may be assigned to work on has the potential to be rewarding and have large scale impact.” Participating in the program has inspired Carr to pursue a career in the energy field. At the conclusion of this appointment, she hopes to continue working in the energy efficiency or clean energy fields, in the government or private sector.

The EERE Program is administered by ORAU through its contract with DOE to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. In collaboration with EERE, the program serves as a next step in the educational and professional development of scientists and engineers interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy policy.