Secretary of Energy Appoints Eastman’s Nolen to Committee on Climate

May 10, 2024 10:00 AM ET
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Sharon Nolen is global natural resources manager for Eastman.


Sharon Nolen started learning about sustainable living long before she could drive a car. Though she didn’t have a license, that didn’t keep her from driving a tractor at age 12. She learned that skill along with others — like tending the garden and bottle-feeding a calf — on the Middle Tennessee farm her family owned.

Those lessons framed Nolen’s perspective on sustainability and still influence her perspective as manager of global natural resources management for Eastman. As an expert on energy and water, Nolen is a key leader in Eastman’s strategy to mitigate climate change. Now, she’s lending her expertise to influence positive change across the U.S. industrial sector.

Nolen was recently named chair of a federal committee to accelerate technologies and processes that can reduce industrial emissions. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. secretary of energy, selected Nolen to lead the Industrial Technology Innovation Advisory Committee (ITIAC). Congress charged the Department of Energy (DOE) with forming the committee.

Throughout 2024, ITIAC will focus on understanding the DOE’s current industrial decarbonization programs and developing recommendations that support or enhance its efforts. Next year, the committee will deliver its recommendations to Congress on how to speed up decarbonization of American industry.

“What we’ll ultimately do is provide a report to Congress with our insight and perspective on the DOE’s work to advance technologies that provide energy with fewer emissions, including technologies like green hydrogen, carbon capture utilization and nuclear. We’ll also be commenting on sector approaches and potential policies and funding allocations,” said Nolen.

Based at Eastman’s site in Kingsport, Tennessee, Nolen is an Eastman Fellow — the highest rank for the company’s scientists and engineers. She was recognized by the Association of Energy Engineers as its International Energy Manager of the Year in 2019.

Bridging a gap to ensure a better future

The committee includes experts from industry, academia, business and science. Nolen is an authority in energy efficiency, the widely recognized first step for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the industrial scale. But energy efficiency alone won’t enable U.S. industry to decarbonize, she said. New technologies are essential.

“That’s where our committee is being asked to influence. We need to identify the necessary work to bridge that gap in industry,” Nolen said.

Nolen is a familiar face in the DOE, which has given Eastman several awards of excellence as part of its Better Plants initiative. Eastman also participates in the DOE’s Better Climate program.

Sustainability has come full circle for Nolen. Daily work doesn’t require her to drive a tractor anymore, but those teachings from her parents started her down the road of an impactful and satisfying career.

“Our company is committed to reducing our own carbon footprint and developing innovative products that can help our customers reduce their carbon footprint,” Nolen said. “One of the core values of Eastman’s view of sustainability is that the value we create must be greater than the resources we consume. My parents were believers in that approach too, and they instilled it in their three girls.” Eastman is making progress on its climate strategy with the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. From her formative years to now, sustainability has always been personal for Nolen — and now the stakes are even higher for her.

“I have a new granddaughter, and I think about her a lot with the work that we do,” Nolen said. “I want her to have the same opportunities to enjoy nature and the world around her. We need to act today to create that bright future.”