Bard MBA Alum Spearheads Innovative Climate Push at Etsy

ChelseaMozen_EtsyBrooklyn, NY– Chelsea Mozen joined the inaugural class of Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program in the fall of 2012 because she wanted to help rewire the world with clean energy.  Today, one year after graduation, Chelsea joined Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson and other team members at the company headquarters to announce a bold, near-term commitment to achieve “carbon neutrality.” The company pledged to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and grow a thriving, carbon neutral marketplace in the months, years and decades to come.

Etsy is a major internet retailer, specializing in goods created or curated by their 1.6 million sellers. At the heart of the Etsy climate strategy is a revolutionary approach to solar development that Mozen began to develop in her capstone MBA project at Bard. The core idea: Etsy is using carbon finance to help their network of sellers, employees, and other stakeholders install solar.

etsyEtsy’s global warming pollution comes from the energy used in its operations, and the servers that host the company’s web traffic. But as Dickerson explained, the “dirty secret” of internet retailing is that most global warming pollution arises from transporting goods to consumers. Etsy figures that 95% of its climate footprint comes from transportation.

As a Bard MBA student, Chelsea obtained an internship on Etsy’s sustainability team. Through her capstone project, she began to develop the idea for solarizing Etsy sellers as a way to “offset” the pollution coming from transport. Under the new program, Etsy will utilize verified emissions reductions from the solar installations to work toward the goal of net zero emissions. Etsy sellers will receive discounts for the solar systems in exchange for the offsets, which will be priced at the social cost of carbon.

After her internship, Etsy hired Chelsea into a new position as Senior Energy & Carbon Specialist. Over the last two years, working as part of a team at Etsy and with external partners, including the solar firm Geostellar, Chelsea helped shepherd her capstone vision into reality.  Chelsea credits the capstone process at Bard as giving her the time to puzzle through the many obstacles leading to today’s announcement. “Etsy’s mission is an ambitious one: to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.” Said Chelsea.  “Being a part of a supportive and creative academic community while developing the initial structure for the Etsy Solar pilot program was not only essential to its success, but also brought us closer to achieving our mission.”

Etsy Solar has huge opportunity to scale. For every 1% of Etsy’s sellers who sign up for the program,  16,000 homes will become solar-powered. Geostellar CEO David Levine also noted that the program will help tilt the playing field back towards household-owned systems installed by local businesses. Many recently installed rooftop systems are in fact owned by large companies through so called Power Purchase Agreements. The emissions reduction discount will also drive solar development in areas where state incentives are lacking.

At the conclusion of today’s announcement, Mozen was asked to take a bow for her  key role in “cracking the code “ that made the carbon neutral commitment possible.  Chelsea continues to dream big. In her volunteer time, she has been working on a multi-year project to bring community owned wind-power to rural communities in Oaxaca, Mexico.  “What I love about Etsy Solar is that it’s really about shared value creation for our community,” said Mozen.  “By working together we can drive responsible solutions to our collective impact.”

The Bard MBA in Sustainability is one of a select few graduate programs globally that fully integrates sustainability into a core business curriculum. At Bard, students work in collaborative teams learning how to build businesses and not-for-profit organizations that combine economic, environmental, and social objectives into an integrated bottom line that creates both healthier businesses and a more sustainable world. Graduates of the Bard MBA are transforming existing companies, starting their own, and pioneering a new paradigm of doing business that meets human needs, protects and restores the Earth’s systems, and treats all stakeholders with justice and respect.

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