Andy Johnson and the Winneshiek Energy District | Inspiring Efficiency Leadership Award

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The Inspiring Efficiency Leadership Award is presented to individuals or organizations who are strong leaders for energy efficiency in their city, state, region or community. 2021 brought many great applicants, but there were two that went above and beyond.

Today we are highlighting Andy Johnson and the Winneshiek Energy District, one of the two 2021 Inspiring Efficiency Leadership Award Winners. Andy Johnson has been a leader in clean energy efforts for communities across the Midwest. From his hometown in Decorah, Iowa where he first planted the seeds of the Energy District movement and founded the Winneshiek Energy District, to cities across the Midwest, Johnson has been pushing for the clean energy movement for over a decade. His work in Iowa inspired 10 energy districts in Iowa and Wisconsin and groups have formed to pursue Energy Districts in Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. Since becoming the Executive Director of Clean Energy Districts of Iowa in 2019, his leadership has only continued to grow. Continue reading to learn more about the passionate story behind Andy Johnson.

Q: What are you most proud of in your energy efficiency career?

Working together to create an organization that is effective at driving change, and then working with others to replicate that model and begin the process of building a movement of Energy Districts focused on a locally-owned and locally-led clean energy future. When we talk about clean energy, we of course mean BOTH energy efficiency AND renewable energy.

Q: What did it mean to you to win this award?

Recognition of good work is always gratifying of course, but I think this is more than recognition, it is validation of the Energy District model and the work that local champions in a dozen local Energy Districts are doing to lead the clean energy transition in their communities.

Q: Now that you have won the award, what do you see as future steps in the journey to increase energy efficiency in your community?

We are continuing the work to bring resources to the clean energy district movement in support of current and newly forming districts. The need is especially great for resources to support comprehensive energy planning efforts by local districts – a technical assistance process that includes both efficiency and renewables with home, farm, business and institutional energy users.

Q: What advice do you have for people pushing for energy efficiency in their communities?

Get together a team of champions and consider forming an Energy District. The Clean Energy Districts of Iowa can share planning and organizational assistance (even if you’re not in Iowa). There is no getting around the challenges of resources, but there is much that can be done by a group of dedicated individuals ready to take advantage of the opportunities that arise and work towards a flywheel of clean energy momentum in your community.

Andy Johnson has shown his commitment to clean energy by not only developing an energy district in his hometown but spreading awareness and action to develop more of them across the Midwest. This continued effort to support energy efficiency in Midwestern communities makes him a unique leader in our region. You can check out our other Leadership winner in our previous post, and if you know a person or organization offering an admirable model for advancing energy efficiency, consider nominating them for the 2022 Inspiring Efficiency Leadership Award! The application period will close September 24th - submit your forms here.