Princeton Class of ’76 Green Business Plan Competition Finalists Chosen

Carol Peters ・ Princeton Environmental Institute

Class of ’76 members (Mimi Murley, Rita Ormasa, Illa Brown and Joe Heyison) pictured with Jennifer Keeley ’11 and Janelle Morris ’11 (middle), members of the first place winning team: Skywater. (Photo: David Heinz)

Business plans presented for developing rooftop rain collection technologies in Bangladesh, constructing solar charging battery stations in Afghanistan, and recycling electric car batteries in Nicaragua were the winners of the Princeton Class of ’76 2011 Green Business Plan Competition held on February 26, 2011, Alumni Day.

Six plans were presented by students competing in the second annual business plan competition. Judges from the Princeton Class of ’76 selected the winners after the finalists’ presentations. The winners presented projects that have great potential to improve the environment and positively impact people’s lives. The Class of ’76 awarded $10,000 in cash awards, which was donated by over 90 classmates, to help seed these ventures.

The 2011 Green Business Plan Competitions winners have been selected as follows:

First Place ($7,600): Skywater

Team Members: Alexandra Douwes ’11, Jennifer Keeley ’11, Kait Mauritz ’11, Janelle Morris ’11, Genevieve Ryan ’11

Skywater combines rooftop rain collection technology and support for rural schools in Bangladesh. Funding and organizing clean rainwater capture at women’s schools will improve health, provide funding for schools through sale of clean water and provide vocational training for students.

Second Place ($1,976): Let There Be Light

Team Members: Josh Bachner ’13, Lauren Alliegro ’11

Let There Be Light sources and constructs solar charging stations for batteries, spreading the benefits of electric lights, cell phones and other communications to rural areas beyond the electricity grid, beginning in Afghanistan.

Third Place ($576): Vamos Energy

Team Members: Sarah Adams ’11, Eric Donado ’11, Peter Florence ’12, Eleanor Elbert ’12

Vamos Energy recycles high capacity electric car batteries and develops charging stations to provide reliable backup electricity to schools, hospitals and commercial enterprises in Nicaragua.

The awards were presented at a joint reception with the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club. Following the award ceremony, Sandy McCardell ’76 delivered the keynote address. McCardell is Founder and President of Current-C Energy Systems, Inc., a small business based in Albuquerque, New Mexico that consults with organizations on their strategic energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, plans and projects.

Sandra McCardell '76
Sandra McCardell delivering keynote address. (Photo: David Heinz)

Sandy’s fascinating career runs the gamut from starting a company that implements energy efficiency projects for clients in the Navajo Nation to helping the Ministry of Energy and Water in Afghanistan develop and enact its energy policy. Sandy discussed her path to her current business as well as her experience and insights in working on energy initiatives all over the world for diverse clients.

The Class of ’76 Green Business Plan Competition is funded by the Spirit of Service ’76 Environmental Initiative. The initiative’s objectives are to spur Princeton University student innovation, prepare them for leadership roles, and to support workable projects addressing critical environmental needs. For the ’76 Environmental Initiative, the Class partnered with the Class of ’76, Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), Pace Center for Civic Engagement, Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education and the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club.

The Princeton Class of ’76 Green Business Plan Competition is co-chaired by Jane Kenney Austin ’76, Joe Heyison ’76, and Rita Ormasa ’76. “The goal of this competition is to provide an educational opportunity for the students. It provides them a forum for pitching their business plans and receiving feedback from 10 judges who bring a vast array of expertise. These insights help students further refine their business plans. It was clear in this competition that the plans reflected improvements that were suggested by the judges during the initial round of evaluations.” said Rita Ormasa.

Green Business Plan attendees
2011 Green Business Plan Competition attendees. (Photo: David Heinz)

Illa Brown ’76 and Mimi Murley ’76 are co-founders and co-chairs of the Spirit of Service ’76. They have created the strategy and provided the leadership for the Class of ’76 Environmental Initiative. This endeavor has three components: educational activities in environmental and social entrepreneurship; a Speaker Series showcasing members of the Class of ’76 who are dedicated to environmental causes; and the Class of ’76 Green Business Plan Competition.

The Class of ’76 received the 2010 Princeton University Alumni Council Award for Community Service for Spirit of Service ’76. The initiative, which began over five years ago, was cited for innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.

The judges were accomplished members of the Class of ’76 with diverse backgrounds: Jane Kenney Austin, Joe Heyison, Tom Hewson, Paul Hutton, John Irwin, Constance Melrose, Ken Moch, Rita Ormasa, Tom Pyle and Brad Swanson. (See the 2011 Green Business Competition program to read the judge’s bios.) For more information or questions regarding the competition, contact