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Kelly Vaughn

Program Marketing Director


  • Buildings
  • Communications
  • Development

Kelly is a Program Marketing Director with RMI’s communications team, where she manages communications strategy and campaign implementation for the buildings and development teams.


Kelly was RMI’s senior PR coordinator from 2008–2012 departing to serve as the director of communications for the Town of Snowmass Village. There, she was responsible for overseeing and executing all facets of marketing and communications for the government organization, supporting nine departments, and driving a deeper level of community engagement. She also served as liaison to the town’s environmental advisory board and helped champion significant investments in building efficiency and resource conservation while updating the town’s sustainability plan. Her background includes collegiate soccer recruiting and coaching, and communications consulting for nonprofits. Kelly has extensive experience in marketing and communications strategy, public relations, writing, and internal communications.

  • MA, Communications, University of Dubuque
  • BA, Studio Art, Colorado College

Basalt, CO




“I am proud that the work I do, and the people I work with everyday, are doing something positive for our future. As a mother, I can’t imagine a world where my daughter can’t enjoy the outdoors, or have access to clean air. I am challenged, invigorated, and inspired by RMI’s mission and vision.”



Authored Blog Posts

Rebuilding America and the “New Normal” of Resilience

This year’s hurricane season is the most expensive on record, with $202.6 billion in damages according to Bloomberg. These storms across the Atlantic had devastating impacts on people’s lives and homes, on communities, and on infrastructure in the hardest-hit areas. In fact, the damage from Hurricane Harvey is still…

The Power of Innovation to Cut Carbon: WattTime at COP23

Today at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP23), WattTime—a Rocky Mountain Institute subsidiary—and Microsoft launched a new way to give customers the power to understand and reduce their carbon emissions. WattTime is now supporting European data on carbon emissions, with…

Leveraging the Power of Data to Reduce the Home Energy Burden

RMI’s Residential Energy+ team knows that one key to changing markets is by making the right information available to consumers. Energy costs are an important part of home ownership, yet most people have no easy way to estimate them. Nor do they have any idea what energy upgrades might be…

Three Top Trends Driving Green Lease Leaders

This summer, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance announced the new class of Green Lease Leaders, a designation that recognizes companies that have successfully modernized their lease language to include energy efficiency, and encourage landlord-tenant collaboration around sustainability goals. Rocky…

Insight Brief Release: How to Scale Home Energy Financing Products

For homeowners making a decision about how to finance a home purchase, options are relatively consistent regardless of where you live. Mortgages rates and terms are comparable across markets and more dependent on your own personal preferences than location—making a potential homebuyer’s financing decision much more straightforward. But decisions about…

Boulder Commons Sets New Standard for Net-Zero Leases

Just two miles from downtown Boulder, Colorado, a new net-zero energy (NZE) development is under construction: Boulder Commons. The project consists of two commercial buildings totaling roughly 100,000 square feet of professional office space and boasting a restaurant, coffee shop, and community gathering flex space—all accessible by Boulder’s…

Report Release: The Status and Promise of Advanced M&V

The innovative Nest thermostat helped to mainstream the concept of a smarter home. Now, high-resolution smart meters, numerous communicating smart thermostats, nonintrusive load monitoring, and new cloud-based software are transforming the concept of smarter buildings more broadly. You may not have heard of all of these devices, but your local…

Setting the PACE for Consumer Protection

Residential PACE (property assessed clean energy), an innovative solution for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, is being led by a set of industry mavens seeking to realize the promise of this public–private partnership. Specifically, industry stakeholders have come together to create a set of consumer protection standards that…

Getting to Net-Zero Carbon in Multifamily Homes

Consumers wanting to undertake a deep energy retrofit of a home currently face a challenging process that involves multiple complex steps, as shown in the infographic below. For this reason, many give up on energy efficiency. Figure 1 Consider what a corollary example would be with a…

When It Comes to Buildings and Climate Change, Colorado Matters

Buildings have an enormous impact on earth’s climate. Businesses, developers, and citizens in Colorado are stepping up to alleviate this impact with superefficient buildings (which are 50 percent higher-performing than code-compliant buildings) and increasingly, net-zero carbon buildings. Here are a few examples that show how the state is leading the charge in redefining the built environment and why—as we drive toward a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon energy future—Colorado Matters.

Making cents out of the “softer side” of efficient buildings

A typical search for office space can require combing through hundreds of listings and running the numbers on rent, utility costs, insurance, and building fees in an attempt to make an apples-to-apples comparison of different market options. And then there are the less quantifiable aspects of the search: How do…

Could Net-Zero Energy Schools Improve Children’s Education?

Can we afford to teach our children? In the U.S. we can generally agree that educating our children is important. Consensus stops there. Whether the U.S. education system is broken, and if so, how to best fix it, is an increasingly politicized debate. Current discussions on how to improve education…

Live From eLab Accelerator—The Path to Energy Resilience

re·sil·ience: The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Energy resilience means different things to different communities or companies. For some, it is a strategy to mitigate risk of blackout in the case of a natural disaster.

Six Critical Levers to Transform our Energy Future (Video)

Originally posted on October 18, 2011 and written by Kelly Vaughn. Today as Americans go to the polls, we're running this post from last year because transforming our energy future—especially in the wake of tragic and destructive weather events like Hurricane Sandy—is more important than ever.

Good Natural Gas News Today, But What About Tomorrow?

Recent articles have posited that natural gas is so cheap and plentiful that it not only challenges coal as our dominant source of electricity in the short term, but will also threaten the development of renewables in the long-term.

Join RMI at VERGE Cities 2.0

Across the U.S., progress at the city level to a fossil fuel free U.S. economy shows how the dynamic relationship between local leaders in business, government, and civil society are playing out.

Turning Sunshine Into Dollars in the Roaring Fork Valley

Years ago, a Basalt native Paul Spencer set out to build an off-grid home not far from RMI’s Snowmass office. Through the process of designing and building his house, he developed a passion for real estate, and became well versed in renewable energy technologies.

RPS: States Can, Should, Go Farther

Last week, James Newcomb and Mathias Bell gave a presentation to the California Energy Commission describing different ways California could go beyond their current renewable portfolio standard and achieve a 50 percent renewable electricity system by 2030—cost effectively. But why would a state with the most aggressive goal for renewables go even farther? I sat down with both of them to find out.

Video: Los Angeles Discusses Options to Get EV’s on the Road

Los Angeles is often known as the “car capital of the world.” Today, the city’s current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is firmly committed to plug-in electric vehicle technology, building upon the city’s historic EV deployment in the 1990s—and to leveraging the 117 public access electric chargers that remain.

RMI Takes the Volt For a Spin

For a week last month, RMI had an unexpected visitor to our Boulder office—a Chevy Volt courtesy of a Project Get Ready partner! Curious RMIers took this opportunity to take the car for a test drive. Here’s what they had to say about their driving experience.

Empire State Building Retrofit Surpasses Energy Savings Expectations

Today, Malkin and partners announced that the building exceeded its energy-efficiency guarantee by five percent, saving $2.4 million and establishing a commercial real estate model for reducing costs, maximizing return on investment, increasing real estate value, and protecting the environment.

Building Solar Friendly Communities in Colorado

Coloradoans often brag that the state receives an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. In addition to attracting outdoor enthusiasts year round, the sun also positions Colorado as an emerging hub in the booming U.S. solar market.

Tracking the Global Push to Plug-In

The importance of the introduction and scale-up of electric vehicles, and the unique role that urban areas play in making an electric future possible for its citizens, is clear in the 2012 EV City Casebook, launching tomorrow.

Reinventing Fire: An “Idea Worth Spreading”

With over 500 million views since TED started posting video, TEDTalks have become a powerful cultural force featuring world-changing ideas from the likes of Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson. Not a bad list! Now RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins joins this prestigious group for the second time.

Going “Beyond the Light Switch”

Earlier this month, Beyond the Light Switch, a two-part, two-hour documentary narrated by Scientific American’s David Biello became available online. The series considers the trade-offs of various proposed energy solutions with great storytelling and a balanced perspective.

Showcasing all the Big ‘Green’ Apple Has to Offer

Some of the world's brightest minds in sustainability are in New York City during Earth Week to share innovative approaches to reduce our impact on the environment with a focus on energy, the built environment and resource conservation.

EPA’s Proposed GHG Standards and our Electricity Future

Watch RMI electricity experts James Newcomb and Lena Hansen discuss how the EPA’s new rule might effect the current electricity landscape in the short term, and how this is one of many steps along the road toward a long-term vision for an electricity system.

The Pursuit of Low Gas Prices is Bad for the U.S.

It's a fallacy that we can drill our way to low gas prices, and trying to do so not only threatens our health, but also wastes our money and misdirects innovation. If we stop focusing on the problem of high gas prices and who’s to blame and start pursuing solutions to the true problem—our oil dependence—we might find we agree more than we think.

Building a Business (and Culture) Around Sustainability Is An Evolving Process

On March 22, Rocky Mountain Institute solar experts Ned Harvey and Jesse Morris sat down with Matthew Hamilton and Dana Dalla Betta of Aspen Ski Company (SkiCo) to discuss solar and energy efficiency in the Roaring Fork Valley. Three themes emerged on the challenges and opportunities to not just pursue solar, but build a sustainable company.

Zero Net Energy: Behind the Goal

Berkeley, California — At a presentation today by Rocky Mountain Institute at the David Brower Center, it was clear that the momentum behind Zero Net Energy buildings is part policy-driven and part customer-driven.

$8.3 B: A Big Price Tag For a DOE Dice Roll

Some argue that transitioning to a clean, affordable, and secure electric system should include an “all options on the table” approach, and that all available low-carbon technologies—nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, natural gas, and renewables—should be pursued simultaneously and with equal rigor. RMI disagrees.

Amory Lovins’s Farewell to Fossil Fuels

In his landmark Foreign Affairs piece in 1976, probably still that august journal’s most-reprinted article, Amory Lovins describes the two energy choices then facing the nation: The “hard path” and the “soft path.”

U.S. Can’t Drill its Way to a Better Energy Future

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama outlined goals to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. A commitment to efficiency and advancing renewable energy are indeed promising, but any solution to our country’s energy problems—and economic problems, for that matter—that proposes we can drill our way out misses an incredible opportunity.

Owning a Piece of a $5T Prize

Last week, Rocky Mountain Institute launched Reinventing Fire at National Geographic’s headquarters in D.C. There, RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins introduced an audience of over 200 to a blueprint for a new energy era, and ways business can lead us to a 158% bigger U.S. economy in 2050 powered by efficiency and renewables.

Thank You, From All of Us at RMI

The release of "Reinventing Fire" marked a huge milestone in RMI's 30 year history. But we could not have done it without supporters. Visionary donors have allowed us to be bold in our approach and recommendations. Now, we need as many people as possible to stand beside us as we work reinvent fire.

Sparking an Economic Recovery

For all of human history, energy has come in one basic form: Fire. But, for entrepreneurs—investing in the new energy paradigm means opportunity.

Live from D.C.: Reinventing Fire

We are live at the National Geographic headquarters for the public launch of Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era. Refresh often for updates over the next hour.

Energy Retrofits leading the way for sustainability in Indianapolis

In a public announcement last month, Mayor Greg Ballard detailed the upgrades to the 73,000 square foot City-County Building. The comprehensive energy retrofit targeted the 1960’s era heating and cooling systems, and included improvements that reduced total energy usage by 46 percent, and are resulting in guaranteed energy savings of $750,000 annually for the next 15 years.

In Case You Missed It: Greenbuild 2011

Last week, thousands of green building professionals from around the world gathered at the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green buildings. Greenbuild NEXT, hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council October 4-7 in Toronto was the first time the event took place outside the U.S.

Our Reinventing Fire Commitment: One Year Later

Each year, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting gathers heads of state, business leaders, and nonprofit directors from around the world to share their commitments to action—a concrete plan to address an urgent global issue. In concept, these commitments can help organizations develop the partnerships needed to get these ideas off the ground. So far, they are off to a good start: Since 2005, CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments which have improved the lives of nearly 300 million people in more than 180 countries.

Ten Surprising Facts About Our Energy Landscape

Today, America relies on oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear to power our country. But, our aging infrastructure demands refurbishment to meet 21st century needs. By Reinventing Fire, efficiency and renewables can end our addiction to fossil fuels, create the core industries of the new energy era, generate $5 trillion in new economic value, and enhance resilience and security. The best news: businesses who are ready to lead this transition can become more profitable and resilient.

Inside American Renewable Energy Day

Did you ever think you would find T. Boone Pickens, Chevy Chase and Ted Turner in the same room? The 8th Annual American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) brought a diverse group to Aspen last week for a cross-sector dialogue on renewable energy and clean technology. On Saturday morning, a keynote speech by Amory Lovins gave the audience a sneak peek at Reinventing Fire, due late October.

In Case You Missed It

As late summer heat waves in Texas and other states put enormous strain on the grid, there has been a spike in coverage on the smart grid and demand response as key enablers of a more clean, reliable and flexible electric system. Take a look at this week's news roundup to read about different strategies to keep the lights on while transitioning to renewable sources.

Change the Empire State Building…Change the World

We’ve all heard a common myth about the Empire State Building: if someone drops a penny from the roof, and it hits someone on the ground below just right, it will split them in half. When an audience member at the recent Aspen Business Luncheon asked ESB owner Tony Malkin to validate, he responded, “I’m in the real estate business, and we don’t have that kind of money to throw around.”

Taking Fuel Economy Further

Last week, President Obama announced a plan to boost the fuel economy of vehicles sold in the U.S. from 27.5 to 54.5 mpg beginning in 2017—effectively doubling fuel economy standards by 2025. This important step—agreed upon by the auto industry after some wrangling—to reducing America’s reliance on foreign oil requires annual fuel-economy increases of 5 percent for cars.

Reigniting the Private Sector: Greentech Poised for Explosive Innovation

Last week, technology ruled at FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, Colo., where participants were abuzz about the latest gadgets, companies, tools and programs to shape the competitive business landscape. Serving as a “marketplace of ideas,” the conference assembled innovators of the Fortune 500 and the next generation of leaders to shape the future of business.

Nuclear: Why even think about it?

Last week, RMI Chairman and founder Amory Lovins discussed where nuclear energy fits in a low-carbon electric system as part of Rocky Mountain Institute’s “Day in the Life Event.” A lively conversation ensued between Lovins, RMI Electricity Principal Lena Hansen and invited guests, centering on what role the technology could play in the Reinventing Fire framework.

A Day in the Life of RMI

A sunny, clear sky, unobstructed views of Mount Sopris, and the sprawling 900-plus acre Windstar Land Conservancy (home of RMI’s Snowmass office) welcomed fifteen friends, supporters and collaborators to a two-day event, “A Day in the Life of RMI.” The event offered participants clear insight into issues RMI is tackling, and an opportunity to work in a spirit of authentic co-creation.

The “Push and Pull” of Energy Modeling Demand

“How many LEED points can I get? Do I quality for a specific incentive?” To energy modelers, questions like these sound like a broken record. Yet properly used, energy modeling can provide information that optimizes a building’s energy consumption, reduces life cycle costs and even reduces first cost.

A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Problem-Solving

For almost thirty years, RMI has targeted business leaders to influence the way they manage energy and resources, which also helps them gain competitive advantage. What about the business leaders of tomorrow? RMI has partnered with Catawba College’s Center for the Environment in North Carolina on “Redesigning Our Future: A National Environmental Summit for High School Students,” July 20-24.

Helping to Shape the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders

While you may be more used to hearing about RMI’s work with an automaker or building owner, a recent RMI partnership has a very different flavor. This summer, RMI is collaborating with Catawba College’s Center for the Environment on an upcoming program, “Redesigning Our Future: A National Environmental Summit for High School Students” July 20-24, 2011. We interviewed RMI Senior Consultant specializing in sustainable communities and campuses Michael Kinsley on what RMI brings to the education table.

Addressing U.S. Energy Security at Naval War College (Video)

Recent news coverage has focused on how the massive energy demands on our military and defense infrastructure threaten our national security and drain the U.S. defense budget. In fact, The U.S Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet, using roughly 70 percent of our federal government’s energy, costing over $13 billion.

Taking the Reinventing Fire Path (Video)

Business and policy leaders came together last week at the Aspen Environment Forum for a vibrant exchange of ideas on a variety of topics from energy to food related to how Earth can sustain “our expanding human needs.” RMI Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins sat down for a conversation with Aspen Institute Senior Fellow in Energy and Environment Jack Riggs to discuss Reinventing Fire.

What Keeps Utilities Up at Night?

Within any given city, many well-established sectors must change to accommodate plug-ins, and diverse players must build a new system of connectivity in order to coordinate charging times, billing, consumer preferences, and other factors.

Putting the “Do” in “Think and Do Tank”

Your support can help drive a future powered by efficiency and renewables-- Rocky Mountain Institute’s annual Spring Appeal calls on those who share our vision of a new energy era based on energy efficiency. Your support is key to our work to drive the U.S. toward a secure and vibrant future free of fossil fuels. Now, your donation can be doubled thanks to a generous anonymous donor who has given RMI a $50,000 matching challenge.

EV Readiness: Let’s Walk Before We Run

The term, “coopetition” is often thrown around RMI. It describes a spirit embraced by innovative companies to set aside their differences and collaborate toward a common goal—one that is often much bigger and more ambitious than what an organization could reasonably achieve alone.

A Universe of (Good) Data At Your Fingertips

Building energy modelers want, and need a universe of useful data. Observing the BEM Summits “Support and Resources” breakout group (which focused on the question, “what tools does an energy modeler need when they sit down to model?”), this point was abundantly clear.

Building a Future Vision Starts with Common Language

What’s the difference between a building energy modeler and a building energy analyst? This may just sound like semantics, but according to participants at RMI’s BEM Innovation Summit, the devil’s in the details. Building a common language for energy modeling services is essential for defining and growing the market.

Is Predicting Energy Efficiency Performance a Gamble?

Vegas could make a killing collecting bets on potential building energy performance —some might say you have as good a chance picking next year’s Super Bowl winner. Yet, building energy modelers are tasked with the challenge of predicting building energy use before a building is even designed, or before they know how the building will be used and operated.

Building an Energy Modeling Master Plan

With commercial building retrofits starting to take center stage -- bolstered by federal support, spurred by public disclosure of performance benchmarks and popularized by hallmark projects -- demand for energy modeling services may soon be in the spotlight. And while LEED and an increase in whole-building performance analysis has driven demand for energy modeling services, there are several barriers that must be overcome to maximize energy efficiency and achieve aggressive performance goals.

How America’s 50 Largest Cities Rate on EV Readiness

Turn on the TV, and you will likely view a commercial featuring the plug-in capable Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. Reading the paper, you have no doubt encountered news about their much-anticipated launch (GM will publicly launch the Volt later this month).Turn on the TV, and you will likely view a commercial featuring the plug-in capable Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. Reading the paper, you have no doubt encountered news about their much-anticipated launch (GM will publicly launch the Volt later this month).

How to Make Solar Power Cost Competitive in 5 Years or Less

Last month, after a state senate bill increasing California's renewable energy standard failed to pass, the state's Air Resources Board (CARB) increased the goal on their own, establishing the 33 percent by 2012 renewable electricity standard. California now claims the country's highest renewable energy standard, with Colorado close behind -- 30 percent renewable by 2020.

The Secret to Hurdling Barriers for Electric Cars

In a signal that the demand for fuel-efficient and clean vehicles continues to gain momentum, the Obama administration convened a meeting of automakers and utility executives last month to explore how these two historically separate industries will work together to roll out electric vehicles. And, even though Obama’s ambitious pledge to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 will be supported by $2.4 billion in grants, numerous studies have pointed out multiple barriers to widespread EVs adoption.