Lane Burt grew up in a family of engineers. Burt’s father and grandfather are both engineers, and both graduated from NC State. So it’s only natural that Burt, who graduated from NC State in 2005 with a degree in mechanical engineering, is pursuing a career in engineering.
And in February, part of that career will be spent in Australia collaborating with researchers overseas about the evolution of policies in energy efficiency and climate change.
Burt is the 2014 recipient of the Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Climate Change and Clean Energy. The Fulbright program, sponsored by Australian and U.S. governments, provides short-term research grants to professionals in a variety of academic fields to pursue collaborative projects with eligible institutions overseas. Burt will study at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Burt’s passion for energy efficiency research originated from his family’s construction business in Huntersville, N.C., where he worked during summer months in college.
“It’s hard to understand how much energy is actually wasted,” he says. “I’ve always had a conservationist streak, but I really noticed it when I worked in construction. It didn’t seem like a big enough issue for building managers to keep their buildings running properly.”
As a result, Burt later created Ember Strategies, a startup firm that works with clients to help them adapt to energy saving standards and products. Before he founded Ember Strategies in 2013, Burt worked in Washington, D.C., as the policy director for the U.S. Green Building Council and on the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Burt says working in Washington was one of the most valuable experiences he’s had as an engineer. “Policy makers really valued my technical knowledge and experience,” he says. “They don’t hear from engineers a lot.”
One of the biggest challenges Burt says he faces is getting people to recognize the concrete, daily changes they need to make in order to save energy, and, in turn, save money.
“Whether it’s at Ember or not, everyone is for saving money,” he says. “But when you dig deeper, it takes real effort and time.”
— Will Watkins