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Megan McCarthy talks about 4th year

A day in the life

Megan McCarthy talks about 4th year

ESS_M-McCarthy_profile

I always knew I wanted to start an environmental-type business. But I didn’t realize how much that dream would be facilitated by Dalhousie.

 

In 2009, Megan McCarthy “moved from Calgary to Halifax just to come to Dal.”

“I love this city!” she says. “One of the reasons I wanted to start my own business was to stay here.”

But that’s getting ahead of the story.

A few years ago, Megan started an engineering program at another university, then worked in the oil and gas industry in Alberta. But, she gradually realized she was “contributing to the opposite of the things I believed in.”

She took some time off to travel in Australia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Everywhere she went, she saw pollution and realized that even in developing countries, it was a result of Western activities. “I thought, ‘I need to fix this,’” she says.

When she came back, Megan started looking into programs that addressed environmental issues, and came across Environment, Sustainability and Society at Dal’s College of Sustainability. “This program intrigued me the most,” she says, adding that she also liked the possibility of combining ESS with another subject (she chose business as her second major).

Megan loved the hands-on Campus as a Living Lab course. “You could actually go out and analyze the campus for ways to make it greener – the ‘right-in-your-own-backyard’ approach. And then the next year, we took what we’d learned further to help businesses.”

Smarter energy use

Her honours thesis took Megan a little farther afield. “I worked with Dr. Larry Hughes in the Faculty of Engineering,” she says, explaining that he looks at using thermal storage to store wind power. “It could save people around $900 per year, by using up to 90% wind power to heat homes,” she enthuses. “Amazing. I was so excited about his project.”

She and Dr. Hughes took the ideas to Summerside, P.E.I, where they were using smart grid technology, such as smart meters, to analyze consumers’ energy use and show them how to save money on their energy bills.

But, she notes, they “didn’t have any software to analyze the data from the smart meters.” So Megan decided to create an application that would. She submitted her idea to Startup Weekend, which took place at Dal in 2012. Out of 100 projects worldwide, Megan’s came in 15th place.

Now, she’s CEO of her own start-up company, Green With Energy. With local and Toronto-based providers, she’s bringing out “a range of energy-saving gadgets – it’ll be like the Apple store of energy efficiency,” she says with a smile.

Interdisciplinary angles on sustainability

It seems clear that Megan’s made the most of combining ESS and Commerce. And having profs from a range of disciplines was “really cool. In first year, we had three profs, not just one for the intro class. So we had three different perspectives on one subject.”

All around, she was pleasantly surprised at “how much focus was placed on the interdisciplinary aspect. I’d never thought about that as a key component of getting the sustainability message across, but it makes total sense – everything is really so interconnected.”