Climate Profile: Adrianne Kimber

Celeste Leon / Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Adrianne Kimber

For this month’s climate profile, I was delighted to chat with Adrianne Kimber, local Truckee mom, fellow Citizens’ Climate volunteer and long-term civil engineer. I was amazed at how Adrianne has combined her expertise and vast knowledge in physics, solar electricity and energy efficient building design to help in the fight against climate change. Adrianne, a dynamic and passionate climate activist, has an impressive background: She earned an undergraduate degree in physics and Master’s degree in the Civil and Architectural Engineering Program at University of Colorado at Boulder to land a job at The National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado. At that location, she consulted in the design of energy efficient buildings for the Federal Government, including the visitors’ center at The Grand Canyon. She worked for a company called Sun Power in everything from customer service to field work in the engineering of solar energy plants and measuring energy systems to the development of more efficient and reliable solar electric panels. (At this point in the conversation rocket scientist came to my mind).

After 13 years of working in the energy industry, both for the aforementioned Sun Power and pioneering a consulting business specializing in solar electric system energy forecasting, Adrianne and her husband decided to move their family from the Bay Area to Hawaii. Once there, Adrianne decided that managing groups of engineers around the world was demanding too much of her time and she wanted to focus more on family, so she switched gears to teach science in her daughters’ elementary school. It was concern for climate and the environment that motivated Adrianne to work in renewable energy, and a specific conversation that Adrianne had with her then seven-year-old daughter Sydney deepened her resolve. Their family home in Hawaii had flooded when a complex of thunderstorms dumped 50 inches of rain in one day. Shortly after, Sydney told her mom that she never wanted to own a home, rather, when she grew up, she wanted to live in a camper van. “That way,” Sydney claimed, “When there is a fire, another flood or a tsunami, I can be in a house that helps me escape…”

Adrianne shared her thoughts with me: “It was heart wrenching that this was my daughter’s reality…the problem of climate is one we can’t afford not to fix.” She went on, “Climate has always been important to me and my husband and we continue to teach this to our children.”

It was this telling conversation and her knowledge and expertise in energy that catapulted Adrianne to become even more active in the movement to combat climate change. Since she and her family moved to Truckee, Adrianne has become involved in local projects with her community. She has helped her homeowners’ association to increase community wildfire safety through implementation of defensible space around homes and through a forestry project to thin fuels in the forest adjacent to homes.

Adrianne and her husband are building a house in Truckee and not surprisingly, she is maximizing her experience in the energy efficiency and solar industry world to design her family’s home. “We’re doing some really cool stuff,” she explained to me. “We’re designing the home to be hardened against wildfire.” This includes installing fiber cement board for siding in lieu of wood as well as mineral wool insulation on the exterior of the home, both to increase fire resistance. Another design concept is to install an unvented, insulated crawl space, so there is no way for fire embers to enter but as a bonus, to be sealed off from moisture and trap heat, increasing the home’s efficiency. Adrianne’s family home will also be “insulated to the hilt,” including double paned and coated windows for heating and cooling efficiency. The home will have solar electric panels and batteries. She explained: “We’ll have a solar electric system that, each year, produces about the amount of energy that we use for our transportation, so basically, all the electricity for our cars comes from the sun…” Wow, I thought, she really is a rocket scientist!

And as Truckee moves away from natural gas and to a more reliable electric grid, Adrianne and her family will be ready. They will install a natural gas boiler but have included the option to switch to an electric circuit when it’s available. They already have electric heat pumps, which we agreed were “all the rage.” All told, her final home will be close to 100% electrified. So, what advice can someone as passionate and energized (pun intended!) as Adrianne pass on to our community? “Everything we do in our lives impacts the climate in some way, so there is always something you can do to impact climate in a positive way if you have it in mind.”

Climate Profile is a feature brought to you by the North Tahoe chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which explores the stories of local citizens and how climate change has affected their lives. Celeste Leon is an author, physical therapist, and the media coordinator of the North Lake Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. When she’s not skiing, hiking or biking on the trails of Tahoe, she enjoys good food and wine with friends and family.

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