GreenLink Alliance’s Executive Director on Taking the Mountain Less Traveled

Yellowstone Trip 309I believe I was born to help protect the environment. My first vivid memory of the awe-inspiring power of nature came when, as a young teenager, I traveled with my family to the remote wilderness of Colorado for a pack trip deep into the Rocky Mountains. I remember feeling humbled by the Earth’s bounty and overwhelmed by the pure wildness of the landscape that surrounded me. I promised myself then that I would imprint that feeling in my soul forever.

Now, 15 years years later, I can picture that moment in time as if it were yesterday. Today, however, that memory is even more precious as I reflect on the lessons I have learned and the satisfaction I feel as I lead GreenLink Alliance, a non-profit start up, towards success. The beautiful irony is that my life, at least to this point, has brought me full circle, back to the mountaintop where it all began.

After college I ventured out into corporate America, seeking stability and hoping to stumble upon a fulfilling career path. During that time I learned a lot about the nature of business, the ever-important bottom line and a bit about how to play the game. As I began to climb the corporate ladder I realized that I wasn’t interested in getting to the top, I just wanted to make a difference.

In April of 2008, I found the opportunity I had been wanting and helped to establish GreenLink Alliance, a non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting energy conservation in existing buildings. Our mission is to educate residential and commercial building owners about smart building technology and the role that federal and state incentives play in making building retrofits cost effective. I believe energy efficiency and conservation are and need to be core components of future energy policy, particularly if the United States wants to reduce their dependence on foreign sources of energy and limit fossil fuel emissions.

For over a year I have been privileged enough to carry GreenLink’s message to Congress and around the country, speaking at conferences and seminars. The reception has been warm and our membership list is growing, but navigating the halls of Congress can be a challenge. There are times when even an eternal optimist like myself can become disheartened.

The challenge of establishing an organization and building a reputation was something that I naively underestimated. The polarizing debate on climate change allows for little middle ground, where even the seemingly innocuous subject of energy efficiency can find its way to the center of partisan politics. To me, it is not about arguing for or against climate change, it is about common sense decision making and finding a better, more sustainable way.

Since our inception, I have acknowledged the importance of forming partnerships with forward thinking organizations to help strengthen our voice. I am pleased about the partnerships we have built with associations like LonMark International and proud to see that our dedication is paying off.

On November 11th, GreenLink Alliance received the “Initiative of the Year Award” at LonMark’s community meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. LonMark’s European contingency honored us with this prestigious award, recognizing our work as not only important here in America, but around the world. As a planet, we are living in unique times, battling both a slumping economy and the mounting pressure to cease, and hopefully reverse, impending climate change. The list of issues that need solving is growing and we all play a role in the solution.

It is important for organizations like GreenLink to identify solutions as well as economic drivers that affect change. Reducing the energy consumed in our built environment is our mission and recognition from our domestic and international peers keeps us motivated. I am pleased to serve as the Executive Director of GreenLink and value the responsibility I have as a contributing author to

Upon reflection, I realize that although the easier path might have been to continue climbing the proverbial corporate ladder, the view from the top of the mountain I am climbing will be much more magnificent.

Cory Vanderpool joined EnOcean Alliance as the Business Development Director for North America. Prior to this role, she was Executive Director of GreenLink Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation in buildings and tax incentives for building owners. Before establishing GreenLink, Cory worked in business development supporting a government contracting firm focused on civilian and defense markets. In addition to her work at EnOcean, Cory is also pursuing her PhD in Environmental Policy at George Mason University and is a part-time contributing writer at Triple Pundit.

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