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A Pause for Reflection: After 30 Years, Conservation Services Group Considers the Future of Energy Efficiency

Posted by Kevin Farrell on November 21, 2014
A Pause for Reflection: After 30 Years, Conservation Services Group Considers the Future of Energy Efficiency Front, left to right: Adam Parker, EVP of Regions; Mary Stewart, EVP Client Services; Tina Bennett, President; Lex Crossett, EVP Software & Services. Back, left to right: Steve Cowell, Chairman & CEO; Jack Sheehan, CFO; Mark Dyen, Executive Consultant

In early September, Conservation Services Group (CSG) celebrated its 30-year anniversary with more than 200 guests. During the celebration at the company’s headquarters in Westborough, Mass., founder and CEO, Steve Cowell spoke about the historic successes and challenges faced by the energy community, using the anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on the growth of residential energy efficiency and look toward the future.

Yesterday and Today at CSG

From two employees in Massachusetts in 1984, CSG has grown to employ nearly 800. Today the company works closely with many of the largest U.S. energy providers and millions of homeowners. Steve Cowell could hardly have imagined this transformation 30 years ago. In startup years, Cowell took out a second mortgage on his house to pay for an expanded fleet of service vans.

Cowell’s once-bootstrapped organization is now a trusted national leader in energy efficiency with annual revenue that topped $122 million. Utilities and energy authorities rely on CSG to develop and deliver energy savings through programs that provide proven results and reduce energy consumption.

Although CSG has come far, it has not wavered from its mission to bring affordability to homeowners while minimizing harmful environmental impacts by advancing efficiency. The company has fulfilled that mission by collaborating for positive change and delivering innovations that move the industry forward. Energy efficiency is now a viable part of the larger energy mix, thanks in large part to CSG and its commitment to the industry and the cause.

CSG’s Vision

Cowell credits a few colleagues who shared his vision in the early years and helped build the company: Mark Dyen, Robert King, Adam Parker, and Bradley Steele. With a hint of surprise in his voice, he notes that these leaders are still working together.

When he founded CSG, Cowell believed that homeowners should be able to run their homes more efficiently and affordably. He still believes this, yet sees the energy efficiency community confronted by new challenges and must be forever vigilant. Never was this more clear to Cowell than after the birth of his third grandchild this year.

“I was holding her for the first time and I thought, ‘You’re going to be alive in 80 years. We have to think about what this planet will be like 80 years into the future.’ It’s an eye-and mind-opening kind of thought – we have to think that far ahead.”

Cowell is rolling up his sleeves to tackle work yet to be done: as he points out, the majority of the 120 million homes nationwide are still unnecessarily wasting energy. So CSG will continue to work closely with policy-makers and industry leaders to develop and deliver innovation solutions. The work is too important to slow down now.

Celebrations Around the Country

At the September celebration, Cowell thanked each of his employees. He also thanked the hundreds of others in offices around the country, many of which are marking the anniversary at local events. A milestone provides an ideal opportunity for reflection. Yet CSG’s focus is already turning to the next 30 years. Millions of homeowners, not to mention the environment our children will inherit, are depending on CSG for continued leadership and progress in energy efficiency.

 

Kevin Farrell is the National Director of Corporate Marketing, Communications, and Training for Conservation Services Group.

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