Lauren Fraser has dedicated her career to making climate education and awareness more accessible to people across the United States. Inspired by this need, Lauren co-founded Canopy Climate, which helps homeowners remove fossil fuels from their daily lives – saving money and the environment. When she’s not exploring her backyard in Bend, Oregon, she’s actively working with the city of Bend’s environment and climate committee to help realize their climate action goals. We caught up with Lauren to hear more of her perspective on how we can think differently about our own impact.
What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities in addressing climate change? And how does Canopy address them?
I think the biggest challenges are time and will. We need governments, businesses, and individuals to address climate change with the scale of action that this crisis warrants in a tight timeline, where those actions will have the greatest impact. We are nowhere close to where we need to be.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed last year, was the largest-ever climate legislation in the U.S. It’s not nearly enough, but it can be a key inflection point to get markets moving. In order to realize the greatest value of the incentives in that legislation, we need states, communities, businesses, and individuals to be active participants.
Canopy is driving education and awareness around these big incentives and making it easy for companies to help their employees take advantage of these dollars. We’re also working with city and community groups and would love to bring these private and public sector groups together as trusted sources of information.
What inspired you to co-found Canopy?
There are a few things that led me down this path. My daughters are my biggest inspiration. When my daughter was born seven years ago, I became much more conscious of the world we were bringing her into and started focusing on climate. We had a few terrible wildfires in Northern California where many people lost their homes, and the air quality was so bad we were inside for long periods of time.
I was also working at Meta at the time and became very involved in our employee green group but wished we were more empowered to make a bigger impact. As I started learning about solutions, I got really interested in electrification. It's a technology that’s accessible to everyone, we just need to get a lot better at education and deployment.
Several years ago I joined Rewiring America, a leading nonprofit focused on electrification and worked with companies to advocate for the legislation that’s now in the Inflation Reduction Act, making it more affordable for homeowners to make key upgrades. We now have big incentives for homeowners, but there is a huge gap in education and awareness. Canopy is working to bridge that gap.
What can people do to drive change?
Thirty-five percent of our annual U.S. emissions come from residential homes and personal transportation use, representing 2+ gigatons of warming gasses every year. This represents about 1 billion fossil fuel burning machines in U.S. homes and garages — things like furnaces, water heaters, stoves, dryers, and cars. We need to replace all of these at the end of their current lifecycle with cleaner, efficient, electric alternatives — things like heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction stoves and electric vehicles.
Most people are not aware they are burning fossil fuels in their homes and that there are cleaner, safer, and more cost-effective alternatives. Our goal is to spread awareness, drastically improve education, make the economics more favorable, and ultimately make it much easier to upgrade your equipment. By opting in, companies are helping their employees reduce fossil fuel use and make upgrades that improve health, comfort, and save money.
Canopy focuses on partnership with homeowners and companies to help people reduce their emissions. How do companies play a role in helping their employees with their climate impact?
Companies have long been involved in helping employees live healthier and more secure lives by offering benefits around health, and in more recent years benefits around wellness, financial planning, and fertility. Canopy helps companies offer that same kind of support as it relates to the impacts of climate change.
As a bonus to companies, we are also helping measure and reduce Scope 3 emissions from commuting and work-from-home employees. In a recent study by the National Environmental Education Foundation, 90% of employees engaged in their company’s sustainability work say it enhances their job satisfaction and overall feelings about the company.
What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to make a difference in the climate space?
Jump in! There is so much work to be done and a lot of opportunity to create great companies. I would recommend getting involved in one of the many accelerators or climate groups for entrepreneurs to start building a strong network. Check out My Climate Journey and Women in Climate to get started.
How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in sustainability and climate action?
There is so much great content these days to stay on top of trends and inform our approach. I have several newsletters I read regularly from Canary, GreenBiz, Climate Tech VC, New York Times Climate, and The Cool Down. I also love listening to podcasts from Volts, My Climate Journey, A Matter of Degrees and others.
What gives you hope for the future?
Electric Vehicles are now greater than 10% of vehicles sold in the US, up from just 2.5% in Q4 of 2021. More heat pumps were sold than furnaces last year. The market is shifting in the right direction, but we need to make it easier and more affordable.