May Climate Leader: Lesley Fore
Lesley Fore is the Executive Director the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP)
Lesley joined LEAP in 2010 as the Client Relations Manager. Since that time, she has become well versed in all things LEAP, building science, energy efficiency, and the contractors who implement these technologies. She has also become deeply interested in the relationship between energy efficiency and affordable housing. Lesley has over 20 years of nonprofit management and operations experience having previously worked for the GreenBlue Institute, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and on her own as an interior designer. Lesley is the Vice Chair of the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee, a board member of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, and a member of the Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition.
1. How did you get involved and passionate about the environment?
I grew up on a farm and spent the majority of my time, when not in school, outside. As the decades pass, I notice that I don’t hear some of the birds that I always heard as a child, such as the Eastern Whippoorwill. When the tobacco industry tanked—the main cash crop in my county for hundreds of years--farmers began clear cutting forests to pay their bills. It doesn’t take long for you to notice the negative impact on streams, rivers, and wildlife when tree cutting is done with little to know regulation binding or enforcing it. In 2008, I started working for the GreenBlue Institute, which then focused on various sectors of the environment, and I began to really comprehend the enormity of the problems facing the environment. So, here I am.
2. What are you hopeful about right now?
I am encouraged by the fact that more people seem to be recognizing that climate change is real, and that the effects are already reaching us through more damaging storms, rising coastlines, and melting ice caps. Fear often leads us to act, and I believe we’re starting to see that happen despite the setbacks at the federal level.
3. What is one thing that is holding the state or local community back from greater progress?
Lack of knowledge and awareness.
4. What is a climate action personally or professionally that you are proud of?
This is a broad answer, but I now think about the environmental impact of every action I take and every purchase I make, and often, I avoid a trip in the car, or decide not to buy something, etc., so on, just for the sake of the environment. We own a house and a sailboat near the Chesapeake Bay, and I consider every chemical that might (through our actions) make it to the Bay, a national treasure. That’s enough to make you act responsibly in spades. In terms of my work at LEAP, we’ve helped building owners save more than 20 gigawatts of energy and $2.4 million dollars, and we’ve installed 2.5 megawatts of solar through our Solarize campaigns since 2010!
5. What is one thing folks can do today to help reduce climate pollution?
Stop. Buying. So. Much. Stuff. And, use reusable shopping bags for the things you must buy (sorry, that was two).
6. This is challenging work! What is your favorite way to recharge and rejuvenate?
Sit on my back deck and watch the birds and listen to the sounds of nature, or go for a sail on the Rappahannock.