Adam Kramer '21 EMBA

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint


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Adam Kramer EMBA ’21 is a firm believer in the idea that you can’t change what you can’t measure. So as the president and CEO of nZero, he’s helping companies track and reduce their carbon footprint.

“When you have once-in-a-hundred-year events happening every year, they’re no longer once-in-a-hundred-year events. Every single organization has a responsibility to do their part to reduce their footprint,” Kramer says. “You need to understand your footprint in order to be able to make decisions to reduce it.”

That’s where nZero comes in, offering a carbon accounting and management software that provides accurate and timely data about carbon emissions, and then makes recommendations on how to reduce those emissions and associated costs. Kramer says companies are starting to see carbon emissions like any other liability on their books that they’d address, and nZero is here to help.

“If a company cares about their customers, if they care about their employees, if they care about the planet, they don’t really have a choice,” Kramer adds. “Employees are choosing where to work based on a company’s commitment to sustainability, and investors are choosing where to invest based on a company’s commitment to sustainability. From a pragmatic standpoint, if you want to hire right and you want to be able to grow your business, you need to understand your footprint and you need to take action on that.”

The nZero software collects and automates data from utility meters, vehicle telemetry systems, and payment systems to understand both where and when an organization’s carbon footprint is happening. They track that on an hourly basis, then make recommendations about how to reduce it through various interventions, whether that’s carbon offsets or changing to a more sustainable power source. And they’ll also track the tax credits and benefits of making these changes.

“We understand that a business still needs to do what’s best for its bottom line. And what we do is align that with what’s best for the planet,” says Kramer, who joined nZero officially as president and CEO in the spring of 2021, but has been involved with the company since its early days in 2017.

Kramer is based in Reno, Nevada, and nZero has employees there, as well as in Seattle, London, Chicago, Denver, New York City, and Luxembourg.

And not only does nZero help take care of the planet, but they also take care of their employees. All employees have equity in the company, and there is an unlimited time off policy.

“Being at Notre Dame resonated with me so much, that idea of growing the good in business. To be able to do that, everybody needs a seat at the table. And so by everybody having equity in the company, they have a seat at the table,” says Kramer, who earned his executive MBA from Notre Dame in 2021. “And the reason we offer unlimited PTO is because I work with grownups. I don’t want an employee to feel like they can’t go to their child’s recital or take a vacation. Schedule it, and also make sure you get your work done. That’s why we hire people who are really passionate about the problem we’re trying to solve.”

Before working at nZero, Kramer was the Executive Vice President of Strategy at Switch, a data center technology company. There, he led corporate strategy and the sustainability group responsible for Switch’s transition to 100% renewable energy use.

“For me, sustainability has always been one of the things that is omnipresent, regardless of geography, business type, or other factors,” Kramer says. “I’ve always been inspired by sustainability, whether it is renewable energy, recycling, the electrification of different processes to get rid of chemicals or combustion. As a business operator, you want to run your business most efficiently, and the decision to be more sustainable helps you operate your business better, too. Creating that nexus has been a driving force for my career.”

His family also motivates his commitment to making sustainability easier for businesses. Kramer and his wife have three kids under age nine, and they love spending time outdoors together, hiking, skiing, and going to the beach.

“We try to spend as much time outside as possible and really enjoy it. My kids are my why,” Kramer says fervently, looking at a family photo on his phone screen. “We see the impact of climate change today. They’re going to spend most of their lives in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one that I lived in, that their grandparents lived in, that their great-grandparents lived in. I love being with them and playing outside more than anything in the world. And I want to make sure that they can have that same experience with their kids one day.”

Kramer joined nZero near the end of his time in the Notre Dame executive MBA program, which he says gave him the confidence to make the leap to work at a four-person startup. The team has grown to more than 100 since then, under Kramer’s leadership.

“At my last job, we did great things and I was part of helping to IPO the company. But I felt like there was a gap in the knowledge that I needed to grow,” Kramer says. “Going through the MBA program gave me confidence, belief, and understanding that I was able to leverage to go work at nZero. It was getting a better understanding of business from an academic perspective and learning some fundamentals that really clicked with my real-life experience and helped me grow quickly, paired with human connection and building lifelong relationships. My classmates are people I talk to every day, to call for feedback or talk about Notre Dame sports. To say Notre Dame has changed my life would be an understatement.”