Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has named Kathy Loftus ’86 the 2016 WPI Innovator of the Year. Loftus, global leader of sustainable facilities for Whole Foods Market, Inc., will be honored Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at 5 p.m. in Alden Memorial on the WPI campus.
Established in 2011, the Innovator of the Year Award is presented to a graduate or friend of WPI who demonstrates exemplary accomplishments as an innovator, and showcases individuals who have excelled in driving innovation within enterprises of all kinds. The award honors individuals who can serve as role models for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, and aims to inspire honorees to commit their time and talent to help WPI become a leading global contributor to addressing global challenges.
“I am beyond excited to receive the Innovator of the Year award from WPI,” Loftus said. “At WPI, I learned to think and work collaboratively, and I’ve become a systems thinker and catalyzer of effective change as a result. I am grateful for WPI’s distinctive approach to education because it has made a critical difference in my life; I feel I’ve had more of impacts through my work and in my community. I also feel like this award belongs to so many people who have influenced me throughout my career.”
Loftus coordinates Whole Foods Market's sustainability programs and leads engineering, green building, facilities, energy management/strategic energy procurement, and impact reporting for the company, which is the world’s leading supermarket in natural and organic foods. Loftus sets the standards to drive down energy usage and reduce natural resources consumption as well as elevate facility management by showcasing how holistic and sustainable operations and maintenance practices contribute significantly to triple the bottom line. Through her team’s efforts, Whole Foods Market has reduced its overall energy consumption by 15 percent and greatly increased clean and renewable energy technology use over the past several years. Her team has also significantly cut waste by increasing donations, recycling, and diversion.
“Working in the grocery industry has been so exciting, in part because food retail is probably one of the most energy-intensive industries and is ripe for significant innovation,” Loftus said “At Whole Foods Market, we’ve developed Internet-based systems that allow us to better manage our energy use. For example, we’ve grouped our stores into virtual territories and can quickly alter our energy use across a territory to provide capacity back to the grid when needed. And we can do it with the touch of a button, with any of our stores anywhere across the world.”
In addition to her work at Whole Foods Market, Loftus is a member of the boards of Green Building Initiative and The Future of American Energy. She gives back to the WPI community through her membership on the Mechanical Engineering External Advisory Board and the Center for Sustainability in Business Advisory Board. She is a past chair of Food Marketing Institute’s Energy & Technical Services Committee and a participant on the 2005 New England Roundtable on Federal Renewable Energy Policy. A sought-after expert in her field, Loftus served eight years on the Advisory Committee of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust and Large-Scale Retail Development Solar, Energy Efficiency & Smart Building Committees. Loftus has also been a member of the Massachusetts State Energy Efficiency Action Network’s Utility Motivation Working Group and an advisor for the grocery sector for the USGBC’s LEED program.
Loftus holds a BS in mechanical engineering from WPI.
Past Award Recipients
2011: Jim Baum ’86, Venture Partner
2012: David Norton ’62, Founder and Director, Palladium Group, Inc.
2013: Bob Diamond ’56, Founder, Xeleum
2014: Mark O’Neil ’80, Chief Operating Officer, Cox Automotive, Inc.
2015: Jeremy Hitchcock ’04, Founder, Dyn