Author: Helen Corbett*, CMC Update Contributor
Jeff Reading has spent much of his working life in environmental education. So it only makes sense that his latest position is helping researchers learn how to take their carbon-reduction ideas to market.
As Director of Business Development with CMC Research Institutes, Inc., Jeff’s job is to help an international network of researchers commercialize their technologies.
“These are very talented, capable and committed people, who have developed advanced technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiencies,” he says. “Where they often need help is in getting those technologies to the commercialization stage.”
“In Canada, we tend to be really good at thinking things up but not as good at commercializing those ideas. We’ll sell the idea to someone else and then buy the technology back from them.”
Collaboration is key
But when carbon emissions are a global challenge, it’s imperative to seek collaborative solutions. Indeed, CMC’s network comprises national and international investigators and stakeholders in academia, industry, government and other similar research organizations.
“There’s a two-way flow of technologies and ideas out of Canada to markets around the world, and vice versa,” Jeff says. “We don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.”
For example, University of Houston researchers have developed a super conductivity technology that could provide an alternative to steam-driven oil sands extraction and thus reduce water usage and emissions by some 70 per cent. “The value here is bringing in some world-class researchers and connecting them with an industry that needs to put emission-reduction opportunities into place,” he says.
Working to promote environmental practices
Jeff spent the first half of his career as an educator, helping the Calgary Board of Education integrate environmental practices and stewardship into the curriculum and reduce the organization’s considerable footprint. He then moved on to the City of Calgary, where he was leader of a much bigger ecological footprint project. Prior to joining CMC, he was director of sustainability and enterprise development at C3 (formerly Climate Change Central).
Not surprisingly, Jeff likes to spend his spare time outdoors—hiking, climbing, paddling and skiing, mostly with wife Shelagh and children David and Meghan. “The kids have been around the world four times, often on long-term travel programs.”
Early education important
Closely watching both his children and students interact with the natural world, he has no doubt about the role of young people in reducing environmental impacts. “Their individual actions make a difference, even if it’s something as simple as riding a bike to school instead of getting a ride with their parents,” he says. “They need to be as informed as they can about their choices, because they do have influence and the power of persuasion.”
Though Jeff’s working life these days is mostly committed to commercializing promising technologies, the educator in him can’t simply be turned off. Thus he’s helped develop and teach the University of Calgary’s first graduate-level course in outdoor education.
There’s a significant online component to the curriculum. But what makes Jeff really smile is the opportunity to get these students out paddling, climbing, hiking and canoeing—all in the span of two days.
*Helen Corbett writes about environmental issues and is executive director of All One Sky Foundation.