Brighter Planet ready to relocate

MIDDLEBURY — Brighter Planet, a Middlebury company dedicated to providing consumers with practical solutions to fighting climate change, will be reducing its organizational footprint in Middlebury as it looks for better ways of helping people worldwide reduce their own respective carbon footprints.
Rob Adler, Brighter Planet’s director of business development and strategic partnerships, confirmed the environmental organization is slightly downsizing its workforce and shifting its headquarters from Middlebury to San Francisco.
The reason, according to Adler, is that the Bay Area of California has become one of the country’s most fertile spots for development of new environmental technology.
“There are more business opportunities out here,” Adler said during a recent phone interview from the West Coast. “We are at a stage where we are focusing more on interacting with businesses. From a growth strategy, it is helpful for us to be out here.”
Brighter Planet set down roots in Middlebury three years ago, where it once maintained a paid staff of around 12 people — primarily Middlebury College graduates. Middlebury College maintains one of the premier environmental studies programs in the country. Noted author, journalist, 350.org founder and Middlebury College scholar-in-residence Bill McKibben is a member of Brighter Planet’s advisory board. The organization was co-founded by Jon Isham, the Luce Professor of International Environmental Economics at Middlebury College.
Brighter Planet has made headlines in recent years for some of its green initiatives, including a “carbon footprint calculator.” The calculator allows people to compute how they are individually contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and prescribes ways they can reduce those emissions. The company, in concert with Bank of America, also developed a “green” credit card that provides resources to environmental causes when it is used for purchases.
Adler said Brighter Planet wants to build on those efforts. Company officials believe the best spot to do that is San Francisco. To that end, Brighter Planet has made itself leaner (around nine workers now), and began transferring some staff to the West Coast last fall. Three Brighter Planet staffers have been based in San Francisco since last fall, according to Adler. At the same time, the company has been downsizing its Middlebury workforce, at first leaving office space in the Battell Block for a smaller spot above the Vermont Book Shop on Main Street. Brighter Planet will leave the Main Street spot in another month, according to Adler.
Officials said Brighter Planet will continue to maintain at least a few employees in Vermont, including its CEO, Patti Prairie, who will continue to reside in Weston. Prairie referred an Addison Independent e-mail inquiry to Adler.
Adler said the organization’s directors and advisers will continue to serve and contribute information to the Brighter Planet Web site (www.brighterplanet.com) from their locations throughout the country.
Adler promised that Vermont will not be forgotten as Brighter Planet continues its mission.
“I think Vermont will remain at the core of the company,” he said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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