On May 11, 2017, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) staff honored and celebrated the career of Beth Sachs, who recently retired from her executive staff position at the organization. She will continue her involvement with VEIC as a voting member of the Board of Directors.
Sachs co-founded VEIC in 1986 with her late husband, Blair Hamilton, and dedicated her career to advancing social and energy justice statewide, regionally, and nationally. Many observers have noted that her contributions have significantly influenced the global sustainable energy industry.
Sachs and Hamilton started VEIC to conserve natural resources; reduce energy costs for consumers, particularly low-income people; advance community-level economic development; and promote well-being and self-determination of low-income community members.
The organization began with an annual budget of $8,000 and the two founders as the only staff. In the 31 years since its creation, VEIC has grown to a staff of more than 300, with offices in Vermont, Ohio, and the District of Columbia; with an annual operating budget of $86 million.
For 22 years, Sachs was VEIC’s Executive Director, leading the organization through several periods of significant growth. In 2008, she stepped down from that position and Scott Johnstone became the Executive Director, doubling the size of VEIC in the following eight years.
The organization is best known in Vermont as the implementer of the first statewide energy efficiency utility, Efficiency Vermont. It is recognized for its innovation in a wide range of services that help state governments, consumer and environmental organizations, utilities, businesses, and communities reduce the environmental and economic costs of energy use. From the outset, Sachs championed the idea that VEIC should serve all people, in particular those for whom access to energy is a significant financial burden.
Sach’s career accomplishments include:
- Creating new models for advancements in building science to improve the energy efficiency of low-income housing and city facilities.
- Creating an organization that offered opportunities for women in the industry by establishing corporate policies that ensured flexible work schedules to accommodate family needs.When VEIC established Efficiency Vermont, Sachs put policies and practices in place to ensure that VEIC would continue to accommodate a wide variety of employee circumstances as it tripled in size.
- Developing a culture at VEIC of putting the interests of marginalized and vulnerable people on an equal footing with priorities for sustainable energy practice. She ensured that the core values and principles she helped to create at VEIC were transferred to the offices outside Vermont, while valuing the importance of location-specific culture at all three offices.
- Sachs has been a longtime “influencer” on many nonprofit boards in Vermont. She plans remain on those boards and look for new opportunities to serve.
According to Scott Johnstone, “Beth has had an incredible impact on the world of energy efficiency and social justice work. I am grateful for her ability to positively influence my own thinking while remaining a steady and knowledgeable voice for sound sustainable energy practice. She is the heart and soul of VEIC, and her legacy will be lasting.”