Queen’s alumni named ‘changemakers’ in sustainable future

Chase Edgelow and Stephen Penstone recognized by The Globe and Mail

Edgelow and Penstone named changemakers this year.
Supplied by Chase Edgelow and Stephen Penstone

Two Queen’s alumni, Chase Edgelow, BSc ’06, and Stephen Penstone, BSc ’15, were recognized as “changemakers” by The Globe and Mail on Feb 24.

After completing Engineering degrees at Queen’s, both Edgelow and Penstone entered the world of sustainability, focusing on how energy sources and businesses can be more sustainable.

“For Chase [Edgelow] and Stephen [Penstone], being recognized on The Globe and Mail's Changemakers list demonstrates their commitment to making the world a better place,” Colin McLeod, volunteer president and chair of the Queen’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, said in a statement to The Journal.

“I hope [it] serves as inspiration for future Queen's alumni to make a difference in their communities, both locally and globally.”

The Journal sat down with both changemakers to understand how they’re building greener futures for business in Canada. 

Chase Edgelow, EverGen CEO and founder, BSc ’06

At the forefront of renewable natural gas in Canada is EverGen, a company founded by Queen’s alumni Chase Edgelow.

“At EverGen we’re really focused on solving two of the key problems that we that we see for a sustainable planet,” Edgelow said in an interview with The Journal.

“One: being able to recycle [and] reuse organic waste to both lower emissions, in particular methane. The second solution is providing green energy. As far as we know, renewable natural gas is the only carbon negative energy source on the planet.”

To do this, EverGen is investing and operating energy infrastructure to capture methane, which is then used as an energy source.

“Methane emissions are anywhere from 30 to 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide emissions on a per ton basis. It’s the capture of methane we really think is critical,” Edgelow said.

As part of the project, EverGen sources everything from green bin organics to commercial agriculture waste and heats the waste in tanks to accelerate decomposition to produce methane quickly.

Edgelow and co-founder Mischa Zaitmann started EverGen over the pandemic. The company has since expanded to include almost 50 people across the country.

Edgelow has been interested in renewable energy research since his time as an undergraduate at Queen’s.

“I did my thesis with a physics professor, Dr. Art McDonald, and a lot of a lot of the Engineering physics program was highly theoretical, but my thesis was actually on small-scale tidal power,” Edgelow said.

Having worked for Petro Canada at the beginning of his career, Edgelow transitioned into the commercial side after hearing about openings at a small investment bank from a friend he met at Queen’s.

“I think that’s the importance of finding a supportive partner, family, and network of friends,” Edgelow said.  

Edgelow said being a changemaker is not something he accomplished alone, but is a collaborative effort with his family and colleagues at EverGen.

“Being able to do this right now, to build this company, a lot of us have small kids and lean on each other. That’s something that gets lost in the changemaker entrepreneurial stories.”

Stephen Penstone, Quinn+Partners senior consultant, BSc ’15

Helping businesses create strategies addressing the climate crisis is all in a day’s work for Queen’s alumni Stephen Penstone. A senior consultant at Quinn+Partners, he assesses and advises businesses on how to mitigate their climate risks.

“There’re really two sides to it. One is the transition risk, which is when you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, so you're contributing to the mitigation of climate change,” Penstone said.

“The other side of it … is climate adaptation. We do assessments for [business’] portfolios for their companies to determine where they are most at risk to the changing world as a result of climate change—for example, more extreme weather storms, as well as reputational risks and market risks.”

According to Penstone, the demand for sustainability consulting is growing. Businesses are focusing on climate change with concerns for biodiversity becoming increasingly important.

Every green act matters, and the impact of individual choices adds up. Penstone encouraged students—especially those at Queen’s—to attend climate marches and to think about the brands they support.

“Don't underestimate the power of your voice as students or young people who may not be working yet or maybe think they have less influence—that’s not the case.”

“The clients that we speak to, one of their big drivers for adopting sustainability or climate strategy is because they need to prepare themselves to hire really great people from this generation of graduating students.”

As an undergraduate student, Penstone watched many of his colleagues accept positions at Shell or Petro Canada and knew he wanted to pursue more of an environmental career.

“I joined Quinn+Partners when there were four employees; now there's 40,” Penstone said. “It's been interesting to be a part of the growth and to contribute to the growth.”

During his second year at Queen’s, Penstone started a busking club at Queen’s called Queen’s Magic School Bus to raise money for Martha’s Table. He remembers the experience as formative because it pushed him outside his comfort zone. 

“There’s all these opportunities at Queens to push yourself outside of your comfort zone,” Penstone said.

“I took advantage of some of them, but always just continue to push yourself. I think that's how you're going to develop skills, by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.