Skip to main content

Behind the Scenes of Clean Energy Investment – Regional Powers

March 24, 2023

Aaron Brickman thinks that North Carolina is a powerhouse of renewable innovations. Track 5 of UNC’s Cleantech Summit focuses on the development of cleantech in the Mid-Atlantic region. With North Carolina leading the way, the region is quickly attracting major investment through resource diversification and its First in Talent strategic economic plan. Additionally, the regional prowess of the Mid-Atlantic is not constricted to the eastern United States. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), is a nonprofit research organization based in Colorado. Revolving their research around the economic aspect of cleantech and spurring the energy transition, RMI produces change that is seen on all ends of a business’ success.

I had the opportunity to interview Aaron Brickman, the Senior Principal of the US program of RMI. Mr. Brickman acquired his undergraduate degree in International Relations from American University and subsequently his graduate degree in International Studies from the University of Chicago. Prior to his work at RMI, Mr. Brickman was Executive Vice President of the Global Business Alliance (GBA), collaborating with those domestically as well as around the world to invest mindfully. Brickman has extensive knowledge in the field of economics, and I was hoping to gain insight regarding his path toward clean energy investing.

His career was not always revolving around the future of cleantech. On a large-scale, much of his work at GBA consisted of international trade and investments. Global economics is one of the largest markets to become well-versed in, helping Brickman to gain an immense amount of familiarity with economics ‘behind the scenes’. Furthermore, when I asked Mr. Brickman directly regarding his influx into the Cleantech space, he described how he saw it as the beginning of something. “It’s all about getting it right”, he said, “Questions of jobs, national security, and many other factors play into energy investment unlike many other spaces”. His work at RMI attracts and promotes clean investments across the board, accelerating clean regional technology.

Much of the logistics behind Mr. Brickman’s contributions address supply chains and energy investments. When supply chains were brought up, Brickman gained a sense of excitement. “In order to accelerate cleantech, supply chains must be well funded, jobs must be filled, and the regional supply chains should steer more towards a mega-regional system”, he said. He further described how crucially important it is to pinpoint the elements of supply chains that produce gaps and invest, strengthening the entire group. Supply chain issues experienced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for states to grow and now find opportunities to work collaboratively, expanding regional economies as a whole.

Connecting cleantech to investing is where building foundations for cleantech in the Mid-Atlantic region come into play. Aaron Brickman is hosting the “Growing the Region’s Foreign Direct Investment in Cleantech” track, where he will also share his thoughts and comments. His role in clean energy investment gives him the extensive background knowledge to be able to speak about regional cleantech manufacturing. Additionally, he described to me that attendees should expect the panel to talk about North Carolina in particular, focusing on how the state is growing and responding to the fluctuations in cleantech. Brickman hopes to bring both a legislative and corporate perspective, offering a holistic approach to cleantech in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Overall, I had a wonderful time meeting and discussing these topics with Aaron Brickman. When asked about advice for students looking to explore a path in cleantech, he said, “Identify what part of cleantech you want to become involved in. Look for companies expanding for cleantech– whether it is investing, research and development, teaching, or more, there is always something for everyone”.


About the Author

This blog was written by Rian Tuzcu, a First-Year Environmental Science student and a Cleantech Corner Initiative intern at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Connect with Rian and Aaron Brickman here:

Rian’s LinkedIn:

Aaron Brickman’s LinkedIn: