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Michael Kinsley



Michael works with RMI’s teams that help communities and college campuses reach net-zero energy. He is also helping plan RMI’s proposed new building in Basalt, Colorado. Outside his RMI work, Michael is a painter and local “community diplomat,” avoiding and resolving controversies through facilitation, mediation, and collaborative problem solving. Michael has been with RMI since 1983.


Michael has extensive experience with, and is a frequent speaker on local sustainability, economic development, collaboration, whole-system decision-making, community growth problems and solutions, and campus climate initiatives. He designs and conducts innovation workshops for communities and corporations, helping them find solutions that serve both the environment and their bottom lines.

From 1986 to 2006, Kinsley headed RMI’s communities practice, fostering sustainable local economic development and collaborative decision-making, which took him to 43 US states and several foreign countries. Through strategic guidance and workshops, he helped several American cities in their efforts to develop green and sustainability plans. In 2009, he was the lead author on RMI’s Accelerating Campus Climate Initiatives: Breaking Through Barriers, for which he worked with twelve college campuses.

Select RMI Projects

  • Led a research project on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from college-campus operations.
  • Conducted a workshops in Omaha; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina on how to develop green plans.
  • Developed workshops to help two major universities accelerate their energy efficiency and renewables efforts.
  • Helped develop RMI's Factor Ten Engineering project.
  • Designed and conducted a two-day workshop with key leaders of the University of Vermont to drive the green economy in their state.
  • Convened and conducted a two-day meeting of 32 city sustainability directors from throughout North America.


  • Bachelor of Science, Political Science, University of Houston, 1969
  • Rocky Mountain Program for Senior Executives, University of Colorado/Harvard, 1982
  • Environmental Management Training, University of Southern California, 1972


  • Accelerating Campus Climate Initiatives: Breaking Through Barriers, 2009, RMI
  • Economic Renewal Guide, A Collaborative Process for Sustainable Development, 1997, RMI
  • Fresh Opportunities in the New Economy, Sustainability Initiatives in the Salinas Valley, 2009, RMI
  • Positioning the University of Vermont in the Green Economy, 2007, RMI
  • Accelerating Progress Toward a Sustainable Hawaii Island, 2007, RMI
  • Accelerating Natural Capitalism in Sarasota County, 2007, RMI
  • Advancing the Regeneration of the Cuyahoga Valley, 2005, RMI
  • Cuyahoga Valley Initiative: A Model of Regeneration, 2003, RMI
  • Natural Capitalism and the U.S. –Mexican Border, (with Hunter Lovins) 2000, RMI
  • Grappling with Growth, Building a Strong Economy and Great Place to Live, 1999, RMI
  • Critical Thinking for Sustainable Community Decision-Making, a Community Leadership Tool 1998, RMI

Authored Blog Posts

July 9 Tips For Campus Sustainability Planning General
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