National Grid Green-Collar Employee Series – Gideon Banner

By Abeni Kendrick

Across National Grid, our 16,000 employees are working tirelessly to deliver reliable energy to our customers. Many of those employees are directly contributing to making our clean energy future a reality. This series features these “green-collar” employees to highlight some of the fascinating and the impactful work they do every day. Employees like Gideon Banner, Senior Analyst for Sustainability in Property Services, help implement programs, infrastructure and processes at National Gird to improve conservation, sustainability and combat climate change.

Gideon joined the National Grid Property Services team in 2018, where he’s responsible for managing and improving sustainability at all National Grid-owned facilities in the US. Gideon has helped the company tackle its Zero Waste to Landfill initiative, the company’s commitment to sending all waste from eight of our largest property sites to either recycling facilities or waste-to-energy plants. So far, National Grid has achieved the goal at six of the eight target sites and will complete the other two by the end of the year. “We recently set a goal of reducing our energy use intensity by 20% by 2030 and will begin work soon with a lean-and-mean team to develop a strategy to meet that goal,” said Gideon. His team is also responsible for implementing energy conservation measures such as replacing fluorescent lighting with LEDs at all facilities. They will begin a pilot of a real-time energy management system at one of the National Grid sites within the next year.

Gideon also works closely with National Grid’s Fleet division and played a part in the development of ambitious electrification goals for our fleet vehicles, including replacing all our light-duty vehicles with zero-carbon models by 2030. The company is also in the process of setting goals for its medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. “Fleet is operating approximately 50 medium-duty plug-in vehicles, has procured several ePTO bucket trucks, has had great success with electric small excavators, and is trialing a first-of-its-kind electric backhoe right now,” Gideon said. Gideon and his team also anticipate replacing most or all remaining non-electric passenger cars with all-electric models in the next 18 months and are making progress in an effort to replace our fossil fuel-powered forklifts. Gideon serves as the liaison between property services and the US fleet team, where he ensures the coordination between the arrival of electric vehicles and the budgeting, planning, and installation of charging infrastructure to fuel them. “We’re looking forward to a future in which we have extensive EV charging infrastructure at most of our sites. It will be a huge challenge, but it’s an exciting one,” said Gideon.

His journey to a green-collar job was an interesting one, read more about Gideon’s career path and motivation:

National Grid: When did you become interested in green issues/ the environment and clean energy?

Gideon Banner: Growing up in Los Angeles, the environment was very polluted, so at a very early age I developed a concern and passion for environmental issues. That passion grew more over time.

National Grid: How did this interest influence your career choice?

Gideon Banner: I always had a passion for the environment as well as a passion for the arts, and my drive for the arts initially led me to a 20-year acting career, largely with Blue Man Group. However, when I found myself seeking to learn more about clean energy and eager to read GreenBiz, instead of the art section of the New York Times, I realized it was time for a career change. I decided to attend graduate school at New York University (NYU) and received my MBA with a concentration in strategy and finance. Going back to school helped me gain the hard and soft skills I needed to begin my new career in the energy industry.

National Grid: What’s the highlight of your job?

Gideon Banner: In my role I get to work with a wide-range of people from across the business. I work peers from SHE (Safety, Health, Environmental), IT, Finance, to Corporate Communications; by doing this I really get a broad view of the company, which is invaluable.

National Grid: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Gideon Banner: The career shift and coming into National Grid “green” as far as hands-on experience was an initial challenge. Learning the new and different processes, procedures, jargon. As for our initiatives, the zero-waste goal has proven challenging at the remaining two sites because of the complexity of the sites and the fact that in NYC all trash needs to be compacted before it can be sent to waste-to-energy plants. I’ve been working to make the change without disrupting operations and increasing cost. As for our EV Fleet goals, the challenge of fueling these vehicles should not be understated. Fleets across the country have found that installing charging infrastructure is a challenge equal to, if not greater than, procuring and operating the vehicles themselves. We’ll be facing numerous challenging issues – the lack of distribution-level and facility-level electrical capacity, yard space constraints, increases in electrical bills, disruptions to operations during installation, off-site mobile charging, just to name a few – many of which overlap and amplify each other. We’re working to mitigate those risks by creating a robust planning process so that we have stakeholder buy-in, resource availability, and budgetary allocation.

National Grid: What are your hopes for a greener future in the field you work in?

Gideon Banner: With two young children, I worry about the state of the environment and climate change. My hope is that we can vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and I hope to play a small part in that critical change that is needed.

National Grid: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a green collar career?

Gideon Banner: Learn as much as you can about energy sector and environmental issues. Really immerse yourself in the subject matter and related issues like policy, technology, and transportation sectors. Start reading publications like Greentech Media; I’d also recommend all articles by David Roberts, who writes for Vox.com. Listening to energy focused podcasts like The Energy Gang are great places to start educating yourself on environmental issues and the energy industry.

National Grid: Who is his eco hero and why?

Gideon Banner: Amory Lovins, the founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He has been tireless in advocating for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and distributed energy resources, and is an incredibly inspiring speaker.

National Grid: What does Gideon do outside of work that makes his life greener?

Gideon Banner: I participated in the New York City organic waste program, which was an ambitious project to bring the collection of municipal compostable materials to all of New York City. It was incredible to be able to throw all of food scraps, paper towels, and coffee grounds out at the curbside and know they’d end up going to good use; and the weight of my non-recyclable trash went down enormously! Unfortunately, NYC recently discontinued the program due to budgetary concerns, so I’m trying to decide on a method to compost in my apartment. Also, after a five or six year hiatus, I recently returned to being a vegetarian. One of my main reasons for doing so was environmental: one of the best things you can do for the environment is to reduce or eliminate your consumption of meat! I also believe that our modern industrialized food system treats animals in a way that we would never conscience for our household pets, and I wanted to reduce my participation in that system.

 

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