For the past 20 years, Third Sun Solar founder and CEO Michelle Greenfield has contributed tirelessly to the advancement of solar. These contributions include the increased participation & contributions of women in the solar field. Her leadership can be seen in many areas, as a contractor, policy advocate and educator. Over the years, Michelle’s leadership has had a ripple effect. Her work has opened doors and driven female participation across the industry.
Michelle is a woman on a mission, working to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy.
Founding Third Sun Solar
In 2000 Michelle and Geoff Greenfield built their own sustainable home on a piece of rural Ohio land. This land did not have access to utility power. Instead of making an investment to bring the utility out, they chose to generate their own power: solar power.
In the early 2000’s there was not a solar installer in their area. Geoff decided to move forward and become a solar expert himself. He designed and installed his first high performance solar array on their home.
The Greenfields founded Third Sun Solar that same year, in 2000, out of their attic. Today, 19 years later, Michelle is the CEO of Third Sun Solar. Along the way, Michelle has had the opportunity to direct the growth of a blossoming economic sector in Appalachia Ohio, all while influencing the green energy movement in the state of Ohio & beyond.
Women in Solar at Third Sun Solar
Third Sun Solar has hired women into many roles over the years. Michelle’s current staff housed at the Third Sun Solar headquarters is half female employees. She has hired women into Third Sun for various roles, and is a decisive advocate for inclusion, ongoing recruitment and creating opportunities for female candidates in hands on labor, sales & administrative roles. It is impossible to tally the influence she has had over the past 20 years. But, it’s certain Michelle’s leadership has led to many women entering the solar and other technical fields.
Accomplishments over the Years
- Michelle has had dozens of speaking engagements over the last 20 years to many groups such as the Sierra Club, the University System of Ohio Sustainability conference, Ohio University’s Environmental Education program, Rotary Clubs, Earth Day events and most recently, the Rural Action annual member meeting.
- Michelle Served as a Board Member of Green Energy Ohio for 10 years and President of the Board for 2 years.
- Michelle received a 2009 “Keys to Success Award” from the Ohio Department of Development.
- In 2012, Michelle spearheaded the effort for Third Sun Solar to become a Benefit Corporation (B Corp). This process emphasizes and holds her company accountable to a triple bottom line approach. Third Sun gives equal footing to planet and people, as well as profit. At that time, Third Sun was only one of 3 B Corps in the State of Ohio.
- In 2013 Michelle was an Innovation Award Winner from TechGrowth Ohio for “Outstanding Woman in Innovation”, a recognition of her accomplishments in promoting the growing clean tech sector in the state & of her continued advocacy for inclusion of and leadership by women in the field.
The Clean Energy Credit Union
In 2014, Michelle joined the Organizing Committee for the founding of the Amicus Solar Cooperative’s initiative to start a Clean Energy Credit Union. It might not be a coincidence that Michelle once started and managed a community development credit union in southeast Ohio. This experience combined with her solar experience was key to navigating the founding of this institution.
After nearly 4 years organizing, the Clean Energy Credit Union was federally chartered in September 2017. At that point, she became a Member of the Board of Directors and serves on the Credit Committee.
In its first full year of operations and lending, they have:
- Over 700 members
- $6.5 million in assets
- Granted nearly 400 loans for PV systems for electric vehicles & green home improvements
- Over 50% of loans granted have been for solar energy systems
- Granted loans totaling more than $6.4 million
The Himalayan Light Fund
In 2018 Michelle had the opportunity to spread her leadership and impact beyond the US. As part of a team with the well–regarded non-profit Himalayan Light Fund, Michelle planned, raised money for and installed a solar power system at a school in a remote village in Nepal. This village is far from the tourist centers or the utility grid. Her leadership and technical skill on the roof undoubtedly planted seeds of opportunity in the onlooking community.
Michelle Greenfield is a tireless advocate for Solar in Ohio, a large emerging market with huge potential for growth. She has progressed from being an early consumer of solar energy to a business pioneer – advocating and educating about both solar power as well as leadership roles for women in the solar industry.