An Oregon climate champion
At Climate Solutions, we’re fortunate to work with cutting edge business leaders who support climate protection. One standout champ is Tom Kelly of the Neil Kelly Company,
By Ashley Henry
At Climate Solutions, we’re fortunate to work with cutting
edge business leaders who support climate protection. One standout champ
is Tom Kelly of the Neil Kelly Company, a leading home improvement company that
phenomenal growth in its energy retrofit business. At a recent gathering
hosted by the Portland Business Journal, Kelly remarked “We may do more
business in Seattle next year in energy retrofits than we do in remodeling.”
Retrofits are doing more than just contributing to the company’s bottom line. In 2011 alone, the company retrofitted 211 homes saving some 3.8 tons of carbon per house per year. The company’s excellence in this field earned them high regards from the Environmental Protection Agency. Neil Kelly’s growth is also demonstrates the job opportunities that come from energy efficiency investments. Since 2011, the retrofits division has grown from 5 to 40 employees and allowed for many employees in the remodeling part of the business to keep their jobs following the economic downturn.
But Tom Kelly is about a lot more than just green job creation. He’s a remarkable citizen who has stuck his neck out time and time again for the common good. During his recent interview with the Business Journal, he reminded the audience of how he and other leading businesses in Portland spoke out against an anti-gay rights ballot measure back in 1992. Twenty years later, Kelly finds himself once again as a champion of change – this time for the climate.
Tom recognizes that coal export is bad for Oregon’s environment and for business. As he pointed out in a February 2012 op-ed, “At a time when our region is focused on growing our economy through exports of high-value manufactured goods, shipping a polluting raw commodity is a poor economic development strategy.”
Months later, he penned an additional opinion piece, this time in collaboration with two other business leaders – Gregg Semler of Lucid Energy and Chris Taylor of Element Power – emphasizing the economic fundamentals of his opposition to the proposed coal export facilities. As someone who has invested his heart and soul in the development of Oregon’s brand as a home of innovation and quality of life, Kelly knows that coal export facilities fly in the face of the state’s strategic economic development goals emphasizing growing clusters like cleantech.
As with past public policy issues, Kelly has demonstrated he’s been on the right side of history. We at Climate Solutions are grateful for his leadership and foresight and trust that once again, Kelly’s advice will be well heeded by Governor Kitzhaber and others who hold the key to rejecting coal export facilities in Oregon.