As the Green Business Advocate for the city of Seattle, Stephanie Gowing is working to boost the city’s eco enterprises and help interested business become more environmentally friendly.
Recently that’s included building an ecosystem map showing the dozens of players in the region’s clean energy sector and how they relate to each other. Because while many people know that the area is a leader in online retail and cloud services, they might not realize that the Northwest is also a standout in clean tech and power technology.
The area is home to the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Testbeds, a facility stocked with materials for inventors to test new technologies. There’s the Washington State Department of Commerce funded Smart Buildings Center, which includes a tool lending library; the Northwest Environmental Business Council, a trade organization; and Washington State University’s Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, which promotes projects including jet fuel produced from wood waste.
“These are things that are going to benefit the world,” Gowing said. “This brings me joy and happiness.”
The ecosystem map, which Gowing hopes to release early next year, should be a valuable tool for new or existing businesses eager to connect with other clean energy efforts. Gowing said she regularly fields calls from entrepreneurs based locally as well as nationally and internationally interested in operating in the region.
“There’s a lot of players,” she said. “We’re lucky to have a great network.”
Another facet of Gowing’s work is enrolling smaller businesses in the Envirostars Green Business Program, which offers rebates and incentives to encourage companies to save energy and conserve resources. When it comes to helping tech businesses boost their environmental commitments, she focuses on alternative modes of transportation for commuting to work and reducing their production of trash. For other sectors, energy efficiency is often part of the equation, but in tech, most of the companies are working in newer, efficient buildings.
The Envirostar upgrades adopted by businesses are “actions that protect their workplace, the community and the planet,” Gowing said.
We caught up with her for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Seattle Municipal Tower, floor 57
Computer types: HP desktop at the office and an Acer laptop at home
Mobile devices: Android LG
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Google (calendar, emails, photos), Sonos, Marco Polo, Libby, Stitcher
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? Most staff space has low partitions, two computer screens and about half of us stand at our desks. It allows everyone to see our incredible view and provides just enough space to not be in everyone’s business, but also ensures easy collaboration and quick answers to questions.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Ride a bike.
To me, biking is fun, efficient and gets your blood going when you need it (before work, to a meeting, to home to play with your kids). A bike can be freeing and observing things from a bike gives a fresh perspective on things that I feel make you a better person. Maybe it’s the slow moving up a hill and recognizing and enjoying the vibrancy of a neighborhood. Whatever it is, I think everyone deserves it.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I use LinkedIn for my professional network and Instagram for family and friends who want to see what our family is up to, but I’m not your everyday user. I’ve never had cable TV as an adult because I can’t fathom where the time would come to watch it. I’m starting to feel the same way about social platforms.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Unanswered: zero. Flagged (needs more assistance): 30.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 12
How do you run meetings? I love meetings with a clear goal and next steps, a computer or white board — and, ideally, food. I want to be respectful of peoples’ time and who couldn’t use a snack? I recently took a training on facilitating conversations on race, and I’ll be applying some of those skills (recognizing power, for example) in my project meetings.
Everyday work uniform? Depending on whether I have meetings or appointments, I am barefoot and in basketball shorts until 10 a.m. I have a drawer of about three outfits and four pairs of shoes for backup, but most often I bring an outfit on my bike, which is typically “Seattle” business casual.
How do you make time for family? I have worked four 10-hour days for six years, and it really works well for our family. I use my flex day to be a bit slower and more patient and involve our kids in life things (groceries, fixing things, helping a neighbor, etc.) and get out to appreciate parks and the million awesome things going on in our city. My flex day really helps balance my life.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? My best stress reliever is making lists, talking out priorities as a team (either at home or at work) and playing basketball. How I unplug is making a list for the next day or week so things don’t fester. I stress over the potential of forgetting things.
What are you listening to? I listen to Stitcher during my bike commute, which consists of podcasts like The Indicator, Freakanomics or Planet Money. In the car it’s NPR or KEXP, and at home it’s a Google Play station that fits my mood.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Evergrey, GeekWire, SSTI Weekly Digest
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? I’m just starting “Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” co-edited by Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs.
Night owl or early riser? When I don’t wake up with kids in our bed, I am an early riser. But when they do stumble into our room in the middle of the night, I cash in on my snuggles. I am a night preparer. I get my life in order the night before. Schedules, appointments, outfits, lunches, bike, etc., so I guess that makes me a night owl sometimes.
Where do you get your best ideas? Maybe it’s the heart rate and defensive biking, but most of my best ideas come from my bike ride into work. I’m also so fortunate to work with super talented co-workers and a mentor who has helped shape my career. My work family is disciplined, hardworking and very service oriented. A lot of incredible things are coming out of our office and I’m privileged to be a part of it.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Leaders who are humble and have the skills to listen, process and articulate solution-oriented ideas are work styles that I want to emulate. People who take the time to mentor and help. I see lot of these qualities in Rebecca Lovell, our department director, so I hope they rub off on me!