During more than two decades of government service, first at the Environmental Protection Agency and now with the Department of Energy, Kathleen Hogan has overseen signature energy efficiency initiatives that have saved consumers and businesses billions of dollars, and have made energy conservation an expectation in America’s everyday life.
Hogan has made an indelible mark on many programs, including the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Better Buildings Challenge and the Energy Star program. Her skills as a subject matter expert, negotiator and savvy manager contributed greatly to the success of these efforts.
“Kathleen Hogan uses her role in government to get big returns for the American people,” said Maria Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge at DOE. “She is transforming national energy policy and making energy efficiency the business-as-usual choice.”
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Hogan is the “focal point for the government’s entire energy efficiency program,” adding that her accomplishments have been “quite consequential.”
He said that by 2030, federal energy efficiency standards will result in 3 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions and will save taxpayers a half trillion dollars in energy costs. “Kathleen has achieved this by managing networks of labs, technology and testing, and working with industry and others,” Moniz said.
Hogan served for more than 10 years as an EPA division director overseeing a variety of clean energy programs that emphasized removing market barriers to energy efficiency. Her work on Energy Star, which certifies consumer appliances based on their energy efficiency (thus giving manufacturers who voluntarily pursue them a competitive advantage), illustrates her strategic ability to grow an idea and gain critical buy-in.
“She listened and worked with her staff to develop reforms, and really made an effort to address manufacturers’ concerns,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Vargas added, “Key to success was her business acumen—building trust with partners critical to the delivery of efficiency, and designing the program so manufacturers can see its value show up in their bottom line.”
“Energy Star is now arguably one of, if not the most successful brand the federal government owns,” Vargas said.
Energy Star encompasses more than 70 product categories and, as of 2009 when Hogan left the EPA, had saved more than $240 billion and 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
“That was really cool to do all that technical work and wrap it up in a little blue box and change the buying patterns of the whole country,” Hogan said.
Hogan now oversees an annual energy-efficiency policy, program and research portfolio of more than $600 million at the Energy Department. When adoption of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 resulted in an infusion of stimulus money, Hogan built a team to carry out a number of important energy programs.
“DOE has the technical expertise, but she’s good at identifying the right stakeholders, and she works across the federal family to drive solutions that stand the test of time,” Vargas said. “She doesn’t make decisions based on emotions and who she likes. She teaches people that work with her how to approach a problem and how to base the answer and the opportunities and solutions on facts.”
Hogan’s efforts at DOE have benefited both the public and industry groups.
Grants from the agency’s Weatherization Assistance Program assist state governments in expanding high-need populations’ access to home energy upgrades. Hogan has helped elevate the program’s profile, manage the substantial funds devoted to it and work through interagency issues.
The federal appliance standards program led by Hogan has used tightened efficiency standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015 alone, American consumers saved $63 billion on utility bills as a result of this program, according to government estimates.
In addition, Hogan established the Better Buildings Challenge at DOE as a public-private initiative to share best practices for making homes, commercial buildings and industrial sites more energy-efficient. More than 250 organizations have accepted the challenge to reduce energy use by 20 percent over a decade. A total of $840 million in energy costs have been saved since the program was launched in 2011, and the private sector has committed $5.5 billion to advance efficiency.
Hogan sees many of her efforts as “building relationships so people can see the government isn’t just this big white building. People are working very hard to make data-driven decisions. It isn’t about winners and losers. It’s about productive engagement with industry.”
Anna Maria Garcia, director of DOE’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, said Hogan has had a profound effect on energy policy.
“The benefits of her accomplishments compound over the years. They have long-term, sustainable benefits for the economy and for the people,” she said.