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Former Texas oil engineer devotes life to clean energy: 'I didn't want the rest of my career to be wasted'

"We need people to have [net zero] be a part of their daily lives."

"We need people to have [net zero] be a part of their daily lives."

Photo Credit: iStock

Dar-Lon Chang worked as an engineer at dirty energy giant ExxonMobil for 16 years in Texas. But when it became clear to him that the company was never going to meaningfully address or reverse the environmental damage it continued to cause, he quit and devoted his life to clean energy. 

"I didn't want the rest of my career to be wasted on something that I felt was making the world worse, when there was all the possibility to make things better," Chang said, according to Canary Media. 

Now, Chang is the president of a startup that creates net-zero homes in Colorado called GeoSolar Technologies. He met the founder of the company, Norbert Klebl, another engineer, when he moved into an all-electric portion of a planned community that Klebl had designed called Geos. 

"Moving to the neighborhood was amazing," Chang told Canary Media.

Klebl had initially planned to build 282 net-zero homes, complete with solar panels, heat pumps, and Passive House design elements. Klebl told Canary Media that, compared to traditional construction methods, this design reduces the cost of cooling and heating by 50%.

But he managed to build only 28 of the houses before having to sell the remainder of the project to another developer who didn't care about clean energy. 

However, his dream of spreading energy-efficient, planet-friendly houses far and wide is far from dead. Teaming up with Chang, their startup is currently focusing on retrofitting existing homes in addition to building new net-zero homes.

And even though Klebl's planned 282-house, completely electric neighborhood didn't come to fruition, the smaller 28-house electric neighborhood was still enough to inspire Chang and give him a vision of a future where elected officials are willing to take the steps needed to protect our planet. 

In addition to building new homes and decarbonizing existing ones, part of the mission of GeoSolar Technologies is to inspire grassroots climate action by leading by example. 

"We need people to have [net zero] be a part of their daily lives to really push their legislators to avert the worst climate outcomes," he said.

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