Steve McDougal was working in Chicago in the late 1990s
when he had a life-changing experience, one unrelated to
the dot-com crash that had begun monopolizing headlines and
serving as the uninvited catalyst for legions of career changers.
The 1995 Kellogg alum read Mark Hertsgaard's Earth Odyssey:
Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future, which
outlines how the United States is insulated from worsening
environmental conditions worldwide.
"We Americans don't often consider how our purchasing
and consumption drains natural resources required to deliver
our products from other countries," says McDougal, noting
that some 25 percent of global emissions comes from the United
have been really weak on the biggest issue, global warming,
which we are a leading cause of with our massive
carbon dioxide emissions --- a pollutant we don't regulate."
Leaving aside the larger environmental impact, the potential
human and property costs from global climate change run into
the tens of billions, notes McDougal.
McDougal took Earth Odyssey to
heart, including this advice: "The answer begins with you. Not everyone
else --- you." Over the next four years, he discovered
how to combine his environmental interests with his business
38, is manager of the renewable certificates division for
Phases Energy Services, a 13-employee firm
with a branch office on the old Presidio military base in
San Francisco. The firm develops and distributes low-cost
renewable and environmentally respectful energy solutions,
sometimes called "green power."
job is part sales, part education and all passion. McDougal
bringing the right combination of business issue awareness
with a passion to make this vision
successful and make renewables a much bigger part of the
energy mix. And all day long I get to talk about something
pitches the idea --- that being good environmental stewards
business sense --- more than a specific product.
He says, "My biggest problem isn't competition, it's
Renewable energy certificates (RECs) are a way for mainstream
energy consumers to support power generated by resources
such as wind, sun and smaller hydroelectric plants.
"Renewable power facilities generate and sell RECs
as a revenue stream in addition to the revenue from selling
commodity electricity," says McDougal. "The sale
of RECs, via 3 Phases Energy, to end user companies provides
the additional cash flow required for the renewable energy
project to be financially viable over its lifetime and provides
incentive for additional development."
Already, companies such as Kinko's and Lockheed Martin
are 3 Phases clients. Plastikon, a major player in the plastic
molding industry based in Hayward, Calif., has recently signed
"You think that electricity is generally a pretty
clean thing until you find out what's usually behind it," says
Kaveh Soofer, director of operations for Plastikon. "Steve's
suggestion to offset our emissions by supporting renewable
energy was a good fit," says Soofer, noting that Plastikon
is a major supplier to automaker Toyota.
says the costs of offsetting energy use with even a small
from green energy sources are relatively
small. "It can be as low as 1 percent incremental cost," he
says. "A major corporation can essentially make an enormous
environmental impact and have a marketable national renewable
energy strategy for relatively little cost."
McDougal lives in Mill Valley, a 15-minute commute via
the Golden Gate Bridge. A devoted family man, he is married
to Kellogg alumna Jan (Petersen) McDougal '95, and they have
two preschool-aged boys.
Growing up in Evanston and graduating with a degree in
economics and political science from Colorado College, McDougal
worked in commercial real estate in Chicago before entering
the Kellogg School, where he studied marketing and finance.
After Kellogg, he worked in software and consulting, and
then spent four years at CNET Networks.
McCarthy, a Colorado College friend and executive vice
at ABC Radio Networks in Los Angeles, sees
3 Phases as a good fit. "The challenge Steve faces is
that a lot of corporations will pay lip service to what he's
doing," says McCarthy. But he sees McDougal succeeding
because "it's something he's passionate about and committed
--- Daniel Cattau