Carolyn Szum

Carolyn Szum

Carolyn Szum is an Energy and Environmental Policy Researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with 18 years of experience leading domestic and international building energy efficiency market transformation initiatives, with specialized research focus on building energy performance benchmarking and climate finance. She currently provides senior management and leadership on climate finance and investment for t the U.S. Department of Energy’s Net Zero World Initiative focused on advancing the decarbonization of global energy systems. She also leads research, development, and deployment initiatives for building energy performance benchmarking and climate finance policies and tools. In 2020, she was awarded an R&D 100 Award for development of the Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER) software toolkit and a LBNL Director’s Award for Exemplary Achievement in Technology Transfer. In 2019, she earned a Keeling Curve Prize Honorable Mention for her innovative work in climate finance. Prior to joining Berkeley Lab, Ms. Szum was a Lead Managing Consultant at ICF International (ICF). While there, she served as Deputy Chief of Party for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) U.S.-China Sustainable Buildings Partnership (SBP) and Project Lead for the USAID Energy Efficiency and Clean Development Program (EECDP) in Southeast Asia. She also led the mid-term evaluation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) China Utility-based Energy Efficiency 3 (CHUEE) program; oversaw ICF involvement in the World Bank/Global Environment Facility (GEF) Urban-Scale Building Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project; managed the Asia-Pacific Partnership (APP) Sustainable Building Operations Program; and supported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) domestic and international building energy efficiency programs, ENERGY STAR and eeBuildings. Ms. Szum has led projects in the United States, Argentina, China, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Ukraine and served on the Hong Kong Business Environment Council and as Co-Chair of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program Energy Efficient Building Design Working Group. She has an M.A. in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She also holds a B.A. in International Studies and Business, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, from Colby College. She has studied Chinese at Middlebury College and National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan as a Rotary Scholar and is proficient in Mandarin Chinese.

Contact Information

Phone: 510-486-4106


International Relations, M.A., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, 2015
International Studies, Business, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, Colby College, 2001


2021 EarthX E-Capital Summit Climate Tech Prize Semi-Finalist -  April 30th 2021
BETTER was named semi-finalist for the 2021 EarthX Climate Tech Prize — a prestigious award that connects early-stage innovations with investors. 
BETTER Website:
2020 R&D 100 Award: BETTER Tool -  October 5th 2020

Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER)

The buildings sector is the largest source of primary energy consumption (40%) and ranks second after the industrial sector as a global source of direct and indirect carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. According to the World Economic Forum, nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment.

The Building Efficiency Targeting Tool for Energy Retrofits (BETTER) allows municipalities, building and portfolio owners and managers, and energy service providers to quickly and easily identify the most effective cost-saving and energy-efficiency measures in their buildings. With an open-source, data-driven analytical engine, BETTER uses readily available building and monthly energy data to quantify energy, cost, and greenhouse gas reduction potential, and to recommend efficiency interventions at the building and portfolio levels to capture that potential.

It is estimated that BETTER will help reduce about 165.8 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) globally by 2030. This is equivalent to the CO2 sequestered by growing 2.7 billion tree seedlings for 10 years.

The development team includes Berkeley Lab scientists Nan Zhou, Carolyn Szum, Han Li, Chao Ding, Xu Liu, and William Huang, along with collaborators from Johnson Controls and ICF.

(from left) Carolyn Szum (Lead Researcher), Han Li, Chao Ding, Nan Zhou, Xu Liu (Credit: Berkeley Lab)


2020 Tech Transfer Award: BETTER Team -  September 29th 2020

2020 Director’s Awards for Exceptional Achievement, Tech Transfer

In recognition of the exemplary efforts of Carolyn Szum, Chao Ding, Nan Zhou, Xu Liu, Han Li to build important relationships with industry to advance the science of data-driven, remote building energy analysis to improve building energy efficiency at speed and scale worldwide.

2019 Keeling Curve Prize for Climate Finance Finalist -  September 29th 2019

Carolyn Szum's work on building energy efficiency financial product research and development with Ma'anshan Rural Commercial Bank (MRCB) under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center for Building Energy Efficiency (CERC-BEE) was recognized with a 2019 Keeling Curve Prize Honorable Mention for innovation in financing tools and techniques.

Spot: Carolyn Szum -  May 3rd 2019

Carolyn Szum took initiative to integrate Berkeley Lab's China Research Program onto a winning proposal to the United Kingdom Embassy Prosperity Fund.

Journal and Editorial Board Memberships

Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy , Special Issue Guest Editor