Carbon Hackathon

Carbon Hackathon | 2020 Energy Symposium

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this year’s Hackathon will be virtual. Register here.  

Please follow the Institute for Energy Studies on Facebook (@WWUInstituteforEnergyStudies) to get more updates about the event.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The WWU Carbon Hackathon is open to the public.

Thank you to our sponsors

Our 2020 Carbon Hackathon is made possible by the contributions of our following sponsors.



people gathered around a table, one person next to a whiteboard

Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies hosts an annual Carbon Hackathon to foster creatively, connection and idea-sharing between students and energy industry professionals. A hackathon is an event where a group of people engage in intense brainstorming sessions to develop creative solutions to a challenge.

The challenge for our 2020 hackathon is:

At the start of the 20th century the world was mostly rural; now the world is mostly urban. Cities are laboratories for economic and social innovation—and increasingly they are laboratories for developing solutions to climate change. Cities account for roughly 75 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions (see footnote 1). Cities are expected to invest trillions of dollars in built infrastructure during the next decade. From a climate-perspective—cities are a big threat and a big opportunity.

An impact investor and philanthropist wants to invest $1,000,000 in a strategy or business venture that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions here in the City of Bellingham.

The investor wants to fund something that has never been done and is looking for proposals from six different sectors.

Six teams of Western students will develop proposals in response to this challenge—in just one day! The students will be mentored throughout the day by top thought leaders in the clean energy community. Team leaders include:

Building Decarbonization:

Eileen Quigley, Founder and Executive Director, Clean Energy Transition Institute

Dr. Imran Sheikh, Assistant Professor, Western Washington University

Clean Electricity :

Bonnie Frye Hemphill, Policy and Partnerships Director, A&R Solar

Dr. Froylan Sifuentes, Assistant Professor, Western Washington University

Eco-Industrial Districts:

Annie Sorich, Process Safety Engineer, BP Cherry Point

Rhys Roth, Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Infrastructure

Transportation Electrification:

David Mills, Chief Strategy Officer, Puget Sound Energy

Jon Janz, Senior Associate, Collaborative Efficiency

Solutions to Car Dependency:

Dr. Sharon Shewmake, State Representative for Washington's 42nd Legislative District and Professor, Western Washington University

Tim Wilder, Planning Director, Whatcom Transportation Authority

Transforming our Relationship with Consumption:

Eleanor Bastian, Climate and Clean Energy Policy Manager, Washington Environmental Council

Rose Lathrop, Program Director, Sustainable Connections

We are pleased to welcome faculty, students, and community members to watch student teams present their final proposals. The afternoon will also include a keynote address from John Mauro, City Manager of Port Townsend and former Chief Sustainability Officer for Auckland, NZ.

The 2020 Carbon Hackathon will conclude with our judging panel presenting the winning and runner-up teams with awards. Our judging panel will include:

  • Seth Fleetwood, Mayor, City of Bellingham
  • Michael James, Project Development Leader, Trane
  • David Benson, Partner, K&L Gates
  • James Baggs, Customer Service, Communications and Regulatory Affairs Officer, Seattle City Light
  • Terry Oliver, Retired Chief Technology Innovation Officer, Bonneville Power Administration
  • Brian Janous, General Manager- Energy, Sustainability & Land Acquisition, Microsoft
  • William Johnston, Strategic Account Executive, EPRI
  • Amy Harder, Climate and Energy Reporter, Axios


Footnote 1: Gouldson, A, S Colenbrander, A Sudmant, N Godfrey, J Millward-Hopkins, W Fang and X Zhao (2015), “Accelerating Low-Carbon Development in the World’s Cities”, Contributing paper for Seizing the Global Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate, New Climate Economy, London and Washington, DC. Working Paper.