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Three Important Ways Gen Z Is Disrupting the Energy Industry

  • Written by Amy Opheim
  • April 5, 2024

Dubbed “The Sustainability Generation” by Forbes, Gen Z grew up surrounded by the threat of climate change and the issue has become one of the generation’s most defining.

Nearly three-quarters of the population born between 1997 and 2012 report changing their behavior to reduce their environmental footprint and their spending habits and brand loyalties reflect this commitment. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Painted Brain, three out of four Gen Z consumers are more concerned with a brand’s environmental footprint than they are with its name—and they’re willing to pay 10% more for sustainable items.  

Perhaps most relevant to utility providers is that nearly 75% of Gen Z believes companies should be held to task for their environmental impact. Utilities should be aware of Gen Z’s potential to disrupt the industry, including their: 

  1. Activism: More than a third of Gen Zers cite climate change as their top personal concern and, unlike the Millennials who came before, they’re taking action.The first generation to be born into social media, Gen Z is vocal and knows how to spread the word. More than 75,000 protestors, most of them Gen Z, marched during last year’s Climate Week summit in New York, organized by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future group. The group is just one of the many organizations tracked by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Climate Protest Tracker, which provides information on dozens of environmental protests worldwide at any given time.  
  2. Attentiveness: Climate change is a top concern for Gen Z, and their commitment to environmental responsibility translates to a demand for renewable energy options (solar, wind, hydro) and sustainable practices. To resonate with this generation, showcase your efforts. Publicly share your commitment to carbon reduction targets, report on sustainability performance (including community engagement/education, green infrastructure projects, etc.), and demonstrate your investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions (conservation programs, smart grid technology). 
  3. Participation: Estimates indicate that the shift toward renewable fuel sources will create more than half a million new clean energy job openings by 2030, and Gen Z will be there to fill them. With Sustainable Energy Specialist topping The Barefoot Student’s 2024 list of top 10 jobs, this environmentally-conscious generation is ready and willing to be the change they want to see—and your utility can capitalize on their passion and commitment to help drive your clean energy goals.  

Gen Z is serious about driving major change when it comes to clean energy. Their influence is poised to reshape marketing and customer engagement across numerous sectors, including energy and utilities. Initiating dialogue about our environmentally beneficial practices, showcasing industry advancements, addressing pertinent challenges, and articulating our aspirations for the future represent crucial initial steps in this direction.  

And don’t forget about Gen Alpha! Hot on the heels of Gen Z, this tween/teen generation is equally committed to sustainability, providing further proof that this is just the beginning of the clean energy transformation.