In Spotlights

Claudia Espino – Energy Efficiency Coordinator – SF Department of the Environment

Claudia is a strong advocate for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).  As a project manager for the SF Energy Watch (SFEW) program, a public-private partnership between the City of San Francisco and PG&E, implemented by the SF Department of the Environment from 2007 through 2020, Claudia offers technical support and financial incentives for energy efficiency upgrades to businesses and multifamily property owners. Claudia graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is passionate about finding solutions to deliver comprehensive energy efficiency services and maintenance programs for hard-to-reach communities.  

Claudia is fluent in Spanish and interested in energy policy and developing international collaborations.  To that extent, she pursued a global collaboration via the C40 Cities Technical Assistance Program to help Mexico City (where she lived till the age of 13) to help develop a roadmap for building decarbonization.  She enjoys spending time in the outdoors and has hiked the tallest mountains in California and also the tallest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba, sitting at about 19,000 feet.

What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?

The housing market recession of 2008 led me to transition careers, from working as a field engineer conducting soil investigation to creating and implementing energy efficiency programs. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with one of the most vulnerable and resilient constituents, the SMBs. By doing outreach for the SFEW program, my team and I identified financial and technical barriers when it comes to refrigeration maintenance. As a result, I envisioned, designed, and co-led Keep it Tuned, a comprehensive refrigeration maintenance pilot, funded by PG&E and later by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), to provide comprehensive energy efficiency services to SMBs to optimize their refrigeration equipment.  

What environmental issues are of most concern to you?

Our wilderness and the impact genetic modification (GMOs) has on it are major environmental concerns to me. There are deforestation and logging practices around the world and our lands need to be protected. Many environmental leaders have even been assassinated fighting for this cause! As consumers, we have the power through our purchasing decisions and educational awareness is paramount to choosing between buying from large multinationals that are directly or indirectly involved in GMOS . Buying non-GMO, organic food from local farmers is preferable. I am continually inspired by local co-op projects such as community gardens that teach people how to cultivate in their own backyard, which leads to more self-sufficiency in the long-run. 

Discuss any mentors that have helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.

Our former Energy program manager Cal Broomhead, who passed in 2019, was an incredible inspiration to me. He was an extraordinary, determined, and passionate being, a very rare gem who walked the talk. He established and laid the groundwork for many of the energy efficiency programs and zero emission vehicle initiatives we offer today. It was he who inspired me to find innovative solutions such as the refrigeration program to help SMBs, and to expand my knowledge through international business exposure. In 2019, I began an international partnership effort with C40. C40 cities was the vehicle to provide technical assistance for developing the building decarbonization roadmap for Mexico City. I also give credit to our department director Debbie Raphael for the encouragement and support she has given me.

What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector of the environmental movement?

My suggestion to WEN members is to practice empathy, equity, and self-awareness. Unfortunately, our climate crisis affects the most vulnerable and will result in an unequal distribution of benefits. We must continue to eliminate unequal burdens and health disparities created by climate change and engage with vulnerable communities, and examine systems, programs, policies, and practices through a racial and economic equity lens. It is also important to consider collaborating globally in the areas of climate and energy policy, data management tools, and capacity building. There are many opportunities to do so through international cooperation agencies, institutions, organizations, and associations that provide support to cities around the world. Look for those opportunities and take the leap.


Connect with Claudia on LinkedIn