Jeff Eckel is the CEO of Hannon
Armstrong, an investor in energy efficiency, renewable energy and
sustainable infrastructure projects with a positive climate change profile. The
36-year old company has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange
since 2013, and manages $4.6 billion in assets (as of June 2017). Since
going public, total shareholder return is more than 150%.
Armstrong has been making investments in energy efficiency and renewable
energy for 25 years. The firm’s investment thesis is that in a world
increasingly defined by climate change, better risk-adjusted returns will be
achieved by investing on the right side of the climate change line. Eckel
pioneered a metric, CarbonCount, to understand how impactful investments were
in using capital to reduce GHG emissions.
Eckel’s leadership, the firm’s clients include some of the world’s best
engineering firms, like Johnson Controls, Siemens and Schneider, whose engineering
solutions are reducing GHG emissions. Eckel is on the boards of the Alliance to
Save Energy and The Nature Conservancy (MD-DC) and the President’s Council of CERES,
the organization of the largest institutional investors dedicated to investing
in a low carbon future.
Eckel has been with Hannon
Armstrong for 23 years. Previously, he ran Wärtsilä
Power Development and EnergySource, companies focused on advanced and cleaner-power
solutions in developing countries such as India, Indonesia, and Brazil.
While at Maxwell, Eckel worked
with public administration and political science professor Guthie Birkhead on
budgeting by electric utilities; they turned that research collaboration into a
publication titled “Electric Utilities: Assessing a Troubled Investment
Environment” that appeared in the Financial Analysts Journal, along with Business professor Bruce
Frederickson. Eckel also served as a graduate assistant to economics
professor Jesse Burkhead, which resulted in a white paper for the Sloan
Foundation titled “Disposing of Sewage Sludge.”
Eckel advises today’s students to
read as much and as widely as they can while in school. During his time at
Maxwell, he subscribed to Science, The Economist, and reports by
the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He takes pride in his MPA from
Maxwell, which, he says, has given him significant advantages in his
private-sector career by having a strong policy background and appreciation for
the unique contributions governments can make in solving tough public-policy
problems, like climate change.