Going Green had the chance to sit down with Dr. Kat Donnelly, the CEO of AZENTIVE, to learn more about the technology they created – Indoor lights that replicate the sun. Kat will be a guest on an upcoming episode of the Going Green podcast, so be sure to follow the show in order to get a notification when the episode releases.
What is your occupation? Where do you work?
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I got my Ph.D. at MIT and have 25+ years of emerging technology development and diffusion, energy consulting, consumer behavior, marketing, research, engineering, project management, and leadership experience. I would consider myself a serial entrepreneur and sought-after speaker and consultant working at the intersection of emerging, sustainable technology, and behavioral/social science. Before founding AZENTIVE, I founded and led EMpower Devices and Empower Efficiency, two firms specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology, behavior/culture change programs, and policy solutions.
My career has focused on motivating, enabling, and engaging people to increase their well-being, reduce energy waste, improve energy efficiency, and sustain newly formed habits. I hold a Ph.D. in Engineering Systems and two Masters of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
How did you get involved in the sustainable industry?
When I was 5 years old, my mom charged us kids an “energy tax” of 5 cents when we left the lights on when we left the room. At the same time, my grandfather taught us about reducing energy waste, growing a home garden, and recycling. He modeled the behaviors of reduce, reuse, recycle long before it was a thing. I’ve been an environmentalist ever since.
What is a fun fact about you?
I am very knowledgeable about behavioral and social science not just for humans, but for canines as well!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
The world is a system of systems, and everything action has impacts throughout the system. All things are connected. For instance, as we poison our earth’s soil and air, we are poisoning our own bodies. As we destroy the planet’s microbiome, we are destroying our own microbiomes. It is all connected. I think many are motivated to provide future generations with an Earth that is biodiverse, habitable, and beautiful.
Mother Nature is inspirational and aspirational for me, and all the solutions we need can be found if we only look to nature. We need to motivate, enable, and engage others to participate in reversing the impacts of our extractive ways by adopting regenerative ways…going back to the future if you will.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
We envision a world where buildings and indoor farms are regenerative. We envision measuring sustainability not only in terms of energy efficiency, but also in the production methods and in the wellness of the occupants and consumers of the products.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Behavior change happens with one small action at a time. Thinking back to the example of my mom charging me a nickel for leaving the lights off as a young girl, turning off the lights makes a big difference in the aggregate. As people make small changes and feel good about them, they will start to take bigger and bigger actions.
Essentially, just get started. Do one thing, and then when you’re motivated, do one more thing. Before you know it, you will be living a more sustainable lifestyle without sacrifice. You’ll see yourself as a person that acts sustainably. I believe in living a learning life, so learning something new each day or week or month and applying that to your life and sharing it with your family and friends is all it takes.
What positive changes are you seeing?
Through our current focus on The Sun On-Demand™, we are seeing better medicine, more nutritious food, healthier spaces, and an emphasis on biomimicry and Mother Nature.
What are your social media tags where we can follow AZENTIVE’s journey.
Thank you to Dr. Kat for taking the time to share more about AZENTINE’S Indoor lights that replicate the sun. Dr. Kat is going to be a featured guest on an upcoming episode of Going Green. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to Dr. Kat’s episode along with other interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts.