A real energy star
Jean Lupinacci, Chief of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch in the Climate Protection Partnerships Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Q. When you first wanted to be something in life, what was it?
A. I really wanted to be a meteorologist. When I was in middle school I attended a seminar about meteorology and got a chance to talk to Storm Field, the “famous” weatherman on a local New York City news station. He made meteorology sound so exciting. I also liked the idea of predicting weather because it changed every day, and I felt it provided a critical service to the public.
Q. What kink in the road changed your path?
A. I didn't like calculus and physics. After learning about the complex data analysis necessary to forecast the weather, I couldn't see myself doing that every day.
Q. What did you learn from that, and how do you use it now?
A. I learned how to distinguish a goal from a tactic. When I realized that my career goal was to be engaged in public service, I saw meteorology as only one means to that end. I keep this lesson front and center with the Energy Star program . Our goal is to prevent carbon emissions by reducing energy use in buildings. That doesn't change. But we adjust our tactics as we learn about successful approaches from our partners.
Q. What life adventure is high on your to-do list?
A. I'd like to say that I love high adventure, and that sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is high on my to-do list. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. However, my husband and I are planning to charter a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) with our kids. Twenty years ago, we went sailing in BVI for our honeymoon. It was the best vacation we ever took. Now we want to share this experience as a family.
Q. Who or what is your go-to source for when you're stumped by a problem?
A. I go to my amazing team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency whenever I am stumped by a problem. We are a group of diverse talents. Some on the team are highly capable of complex data analysis, which helps me immensely. We have engineers, lawyers, public relations experts, and real estate specialists. We also have a grandmother, a new mother, fathers of teenagers, and young, single women. Whatever the problem, from saving energy in buildings to personal challenges, I know I will get a fresh perspective based on their sound experience.
Q. What fascinates you about buildings?
A. It fascinates me that all buildings—new and old, big and small, tall and short, and every type in between—can be energy efficient and find ways to reduce waste.
Q. What do you look forward to at the end of the day?
A. I look forward to going home to my family, even if it means chauffeuring children from swim practice to piano lessons to basketball practice and back for an evening church meeting. Somewhere in between our 3-year-old Portuguese Water Dog needs to go out for a walk. Even with all that activity, we manage to sit down for dinner to connect on the day's activities.
Q. What do you remind yourself of often, and why?
A. How fortunate I am to have such a great career with the EPA and to feel that I can make a difference in helping to protect the environment and fight global warming.
Q. What do you wonder about?
A. Being the parent of teenagers, I am constantly wondering why college tuition is so much money.
Q. What do you want to learn more about, just out of curiosity?
A. I am curious about the inferior quality of my indoor photographs compared to my outdoor shots. I'd really like to learn better techniques for flash photography.
WHO: Jean Lupinacci
WHAT : Chief of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch in the Climate Protection Partnerships Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
WHY : Jean is among the most effective leaders in the buildings industry and the environmental movement, teaming well with engineers, manufacturers, and owners.
ABOUT: Jean has been with the EPA for 25 years, primarily developing and managing voluntary energy efficiency programs. She led Energy Star's expansion into buildings and plants, and the rapid adoption of energy management programs by U.S. businesses and institutions.