Meet sustainability alumnus Michael Herod

Smiling man with glasses and red collared shirtMichael Herod has two degrees from the School of Sustainability: a bachelor of science and an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership. But Herod didn’t enroll in sustainability because of a passion for the environment or for the health of communities around the world, as many students do. Herod initially pursued sustainability to prove his boss wrong and to do something beneficial with a “pocket full of Uncle Sam’s money” after returning from Iraq with the U.S. Army. During his last undergraduate semester, Herod had a realization that inspired him to pursue the EMSL, and then to start a successful business called GOEFER that allows people and businesses to monitor and save on their energy use through advanced power strips. Read on for more about Herod’s journey and how he got the idea for his business. Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability? Answer: Haha, I didn't — sort of. I went to a presentation by Rob Melnick about some new "sustainability" program starting at ASU. I only went to the presentation because my boss asked me to. I had just finished building the first LEED Certified building in the U.S. Army National Guard, and he found out about the presentation and said, "You're into that green stuff, I want you to go." The irony is, I wasn't into anything that was "green." I only went for LEED because my Colonel said I couldn't do it and because I was greedy and wanted to prove I could and get promoted. Back then LEED wasn't like it is today, and we learned a ton on that project. I had just returned from Iraq and had a pocket full of Uncle Sam’s money so I figured, why not enroll? The program sounded cool and like something that could lead to a good degree. I didn't have my “aha” moment until the final semester of my undergrad degree in sustainability during Colin Tetreault's class. Colin asked a question about where everyone was going to work after graduation by type, nonprofit or for-profit. Everyone except two of us chose nonprofit, and Colin asked why we chose for-profit. As I said my answer it hit me. It was something like, "The environmental movement alone hasn't moved the needle. Do you want to see the needle move? Get the ‘Walmarts’ of the world to get on board, then the needle will move." I've never viewed sustainability the same way since — and it's proving true. Q: How and when did you come up with the idea for GOEFER? power strip with multiple portsA: I was doing site visits looking for ways to lower energy costs for a department I was working for. It took me about three site visits before it really hit me. The employees had mini refrigerators sitting under each of their desks. I'm talking 30-plus per building, in every building I visited in the Southwest. They wanted an easy way to lower their energy, so I suggested they get rid of those and have the employees use the giant fridge in the breakroom. After months of pushing this common sense idea up the flagpole it got to a point of "prove how much it's costing us." Getting that data didn't exist unless I sat at each desk for an hour with a Kill A Watt [electricity monitor] and uploaded the readings into a spreadsheet — which of course they weren't going to pay for all of the travel and time. A few weeks later without word I was called into the office and let go. A month (September 2015) into unemployment I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea to make a powerstrip that could monitor and control each port separately. Now, I can tell you which of your printers is the most efficient while being used and in "sleep mode." We can tell you how often the second monitors everyone asked for are actually being used. Want to know how much the floor heaters or personal fans are costing? GOEFERit and know. It's been such an amazing three years and I can't even imagine what the next three will be like. Building a company is hard! It takes twice as long and costs five times as much as you think it will, but if it's your calling and you know you will have positive effects on others, then GOEFERit. You might have to pivot and change but don't give up. Q: How is GOEFER contributing to sustainability? A: Plug load energy is the final opportunity in a building's energy efficiency. We've had great advancements in mechanical and lighting systems but plug load snuck up on us and there are over nine billion things plugged into our lives. Every day we interact in what I call an electronic ecosystem. Think of all of the technology, devices and appliances that you interact with every day. Did you know they consume almost half of all electricity and nearly half of that is wasted or unused? It shouldn't be that way. We want to empower our customers to unplug all of the unused energy in their lives and plug in savings, insight and control. How cool would it be if the next time you bought a TV or printer you knew exactly how much it cost you to use it? How many times have you left the house worried you left something on? What if you were the energy or sustainability manager and knew your energy usage and employee technology-behavior trends down to the individual plug or device? Q: What does sustainability mean to you? A: To be respectful in everything you do: respectful in how you treat people, respectful in how you spend your money, and respectful to the effects you have on your community and our planet.