Straight-shooting engineer Renee Azerbegi wants to be as accurate as possible when describing the Denver consulting firm she co-founded with her husband.
Since its start in 2004, Ambient Energy has been identified by a golden logo and the tagline, �solar and sustainable design solutions,� but Azerbegi is considering a tweak. �The Ambient name was his idea�my husband�s a solar guy and he was a consultant for us�but now he�s with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, so we�re thinking of changing the tagline.� And so it goes at an evolving firm led by a perfectionist.
Located in a retrofitted Victorian-era building near the Denver Health campus south of downtown, Ambient Energy is a consulting engineering firm focused on what it says is creating buildings that are sustainable, renewably powered and balance functionality with environmental and fiscal responsibility.
The seed that became Ambient Energy was planted years earlier and cultivated over time. Now 34, Azerbegi grew up in Orinda, Calif. As a student at Orinda�s Miramonte High School, she started a recycling program and served as president of the Environment Now club.
For college, Azerbegi chose a recognized, the University of California at Berkeley, obtaining bachelor�s degrees in environmental science and geography.
By the time she entered graduate school, she�d begun thinking �it might be good to work at reducing the environmental impact of buildings,� which led her to the University of Colorado at Boulder and its graduate program in Building Systems Engineering. After earning her master�s degree, she began working as an engineer, never losing sight of her early goal.
It was not until she gave birth to a son in 2004 that Azerbegi decided to start her own firm. She�d worked in both the governmental and private sectors, joining The RMH Group in Lakewood, Colo., specifically to increase her knowledge about the design of mechanical systems.
She credits her strong relationships with former employers, including The RMH Group and ENSAR Group Inc. in Boulder, for bringing in the contract engineering work that �kick-started� her fledgling company.
Today, Ambient Energy has solid footing�certification as a woman-owned business and a roster of clients that includes Xcel Energy, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colorado State University and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The firm has worked on projects such as Denver International Airport, Signature Center by Aardex, CU�s Ketchum and Arnett Halls, Byron G. Rogers Federal Courthouse and the new Denver Justice Center Courthouse.
Additionally, Ambient Energy consults on government initiatives such as the Colorado Governor�s Energy Office High Performance Building Program.
The firm currently has 13 employees, but �we�re still growing,� Azerbegi says. She adds that her employees share her environmental ethic.
Ambient Energy�s company culture is progressive, including such perks as the ability to telecommute up to twice a week and an incentive program for taking alternative transportation twice or more per week.
Deb Kleinman, executive director of the Colorado Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, says, �All too often we talk about sustainability in terms of what we do for clients. Renee�s office sets a really good example of what our own environments should be.�
Every three years, employees receive an additional three weeks off, a sort of �sabbatical,� and they must take it all at once and really get away from the office. Azerbegi, the first employee eligible for the perquisite, says she �went to Argentina with my family and saw the glaciers melting.�
Even though Azerbegi says she was once a �complete workaholic,� she�s now �managing much better.�