Helping to Make MathWorks Greener

JeffBy Jeff, energy engineer


For many years, I couldn’t understand people who said they “loved” their job or they “couldn’t dream of doing anything else.” It always seemed like something you had to say from years of social conditioning, even when reality was far from it. I had a vision of my ideal role—one that allowed me to create and execute all things energy and sustainability focused—but that never seemed viable in an actual business setting.

When I graduated from the University of Toronto, sustainability was only just starting to be addressed outside of academia in the corporate world as a job function and not a brand identity. At that time, I felt the best way to align my personal passions with a career path was to pursue being an energy engineer. This space generally focuses on showing companies the benefits to energy conservation and other green initiatives in a language they’re fluent in: money. And while my career path approached this from different angles, I can’t say any of my roles fully satisfied my university-graduate aspirations.

Then, through a series of events, I was offered an opportunity to become an energy engineer at MathWorks. With that offer came a unique twist that was unlike any of my previous roles: it lacked a specific job description. While the general goal was clearly outlined—help MathWorks do the right thing and support energy reduction efforts on the company’s Natick, Massachusetts, campuses—it was loosely defined beyond that. Because the position was mostly new to MathWorks, there wasn’t another person’s shoes to fill, leaving me with a chance to define my path.

Jeff looking at air exchange units on office building roof.

Driving Our Efforts

It should surprise no one who’s familiar with MathWorks and our software that as a company, we have a wealth of data on how we operate. My first effort was understanding what we had available and turning it into something that we could act on. From that, our key building performance metrics were born—energy use intensity (EUI), water use intensity (WUI), power use effectiveness (PUE), and total carbon emissions. Then, once we understood where we were, we could begin setting targets and plotting a course for how to get there through projects small and large. And we did just that—I was given the opportunity to develop new projects with new approaches to reduce our energy use and take them from ideas through implementation.

After seeing success at the campus level, we began looking at how could we do more. How could we take a bigger swing and apply this to our entire operation? We looked at our global carbon and waste footprint so we could minimize our impact on the environment while still maintaining a successful operation. From there we set the ambitious goal to decarbonize MathWorks and divert 90% of our waste from landfills and incinerators.

This environment has provided so much personal and career growth for me, and it’s truly unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

There is still a ways to go, but I’ve gone from focusing on our Natick campus operations to developing our company decarbonization strategy. This involves calculating our global carbon footprint, implementing ways to reduce it across all three scopes, and building long-term, impactful projects to offset what we can’t avoid. Under this umbrella goal, I get to drive and participate in many diverse initiatives in ways I had never even thought of.

Reducing our impact goes beyond metrics and reducing our energy and water use. I brainstorm with other teams about new technologies and decisions that can take us to the next level of efficiency, further reducing our emissions, decreasing physical waste and expanding composting and recycling, and even supporting new building construction. In exploring these initiatives, I’ve learned what makes a successful business case and how we can begin factoring climate into many kinds of business decisions.

A bin for single-stream recycling with details about what can and cannot be deposited.
A sign, posted next to plastic cups, encouraging staff to use reusable drinkware instead.

A Supportive Environment

A key factor that makes all this possible is being surrounded by people who care about this work too. Through these varied projects, I get to work with colleagues in departments across the company in our offices all over the world. I love connecting with people in Facilities, Development, Marketing, and Finance and Procurement. We have candid conversations that incorporate a variety of viewpoints from different people and departments; together we create a space where it’s OK to not know everything and to ask questions. This environment has provided so much personal and career growth for me, and it’s truly unlike anywhere else I’ve been. 

Solar panels on top of an office building, with Jeff and another man in the background.

What started as a job focused on how to make our Natick campuses as energy efficient as possible has become one that broadly encompasses the company’s internal climate initiatives. I continue to be able to define what I do and explore new ideas—in fact, even more so than when I started five years ago.

Being able to be flexible and work on so many different projects, with so many different people, keeps me interested and passionate about what I do. The role I’ve been able to build here at MathWorks is the one I had envisioned when I started down this path. I love my job and I couldn’t dream of doing anything else.

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