Going Green had the opportunity to meet with Shannon Bresnahan, Vice President of Cleantech San Diego.
Shannon, Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I was born and raised in Southern California and have spent my entire adult life in San Diego. I earned a Communications B.A. from UC San Diego and spent the first 10 years of my career working in public relations and marketing at my alma mater, with most of those years doing marketing at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. After a short stint at a weather forecasting startup that spun out of Scripps, I joined the Cleantech San Diego team in 2013. Cleantech San Diego is a member-based trade organization that supports the cleantech industry by fostering collaborations across the private-public-academic landscape, leading advocacy efforts to promote cleantech priorities, and encouraging investment in the San Diego region. Our members include more than 100 businesses, universities, governments, and nonprofits committed to advancing sustainable solutions for the benefit of the economy and the environment. As Vice President of Cleantech San Diego, I manage overall corporate, communications, strategic marketing, and public relations activity to position the greater San Diego region as a global leader in the cleantech economy and smart cities movement while raising the visibility and profile of Cleantech San Diego and our members.
What is a fun fact about you?
My favorite things about San Diego are ocean sunsets, oyster happy hours, and craft beer. What was your motivation to get into this industry?For me, it started right out of college with a desire to spend my time and energy doing something I loved and could be proud of. My early career years working in marketing at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, promoting ocean science and education, ticked all of those boxes. It also instilled in me the importance of sound science in decision-making and helped me become much more literate in climate change issues, somewhat by osmosis. That appreciation for science and the need to address climate change is truly the foundation for why I am so proud to work at Cleantech San Diego. I am now in a position to help bring to light the business and environmental benefits that come from lowering greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a clean economy. It feels like I’m helping put climate science into action in my small way, and for me, there’s no better win-win than having a job where what you are paid to do is also the right thing to do.
Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
This is not new news. We have known for more than 60 years that irreversible climate change was coming if we continued with business as usual. I hope what’s happening today is that people are finally starting to realize that we are running up against a critical tipping point, and that there are better ways to move forward. We are seeing this locally and around the world with more and more cities and governments adopting climate action plans and enacting 100% renewable energy goals. The key is demonstrating that making choices that are good for the environment are also good for business. This is a fact we’ve seen proven time and again in the San Diego region and beyond, and I think it’s resonating now more than ever because the next generation is so keenly aware of the need for a new way of doing things. What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?In a decade, I think cities will continue to be critical leaders in advancing our transition to a clean energy future. We will see more Climate Action Plans, more Chief Sustainability Officers, more Chief Innovation Officers, and more smart city technologies at our fingertips that empower citizens to make sustainable choices without a second thought.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Ditch single use plastics! It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it makes a difference in reducing not just waste and pollution, but also the energy it takes to make and ship those items. Bring a reusable water bottle and coffee cup with you, especially when you think you might get the urge to stop for a drink somewhere. Keep reusable bags in your bag and your car. Skip the plastic produce bags at the store – you wash those fruits and vegetables when you get home anyways! Store food in Tupperware instead of using Ziploc bags or saran wrap at home. My husband and I try our best to follow these rules, and I have to say my water stays colder, my coffee stays hotter, and I save money by never buying plastic wrap or sandwich baggies. Not a bad deal! When we simply give a little more thought to what we are using, where it came from, and where it will go when we are done with it, I think we set ourselves up to do a better job making kind choices for our planet.
What positive changes are you seeing?
It’s nice to see that climate change is no longer a completely polarizing term in the business world. Many industries are successfully integrating sustainability into their core principles and embracing cleantech innovations that have a positive effect our planet – not because they want to be environmental heroes, but because it’s the right move for their business. It’s encouraging to see these two schools of thought lining up.
Thank you Shannon for this amazing information.
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