Not every newly minted college graduate has a handle on his or her life’s path right away. Certainly, that was the case for Danny Rubin ’06. When this communication major graduated in 2006 with an emphasis on corporate communications, he had no idea he’d evolve to specialize in growing sustainable companies. These days, he’s the director of operations for Dandelion Energy, a rapidly expanding geothermal design and installation firm in New York that Fast Company magazine dubbed “one of the world’s most innovative companies.” Rubin says he can’t imagine a more rewarding role for himself.
“I’m really lucky,” he says. “I’m working in an industry that has the ability to fight climate change, and the company I’m with is fully committed to this mission.”
Right out of college, Rubin sold software, but that didn’t inspire him. So, he packed up his life’s belongings and drove to Colorado, intent on getting involved in the then-nascent green building industry.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” he says. “Hiking, fishing and just spending time in nature were my pastimes. I’d call myself an environmentalist, and that, in part, drove the decision-making regarding my career.”
Rubin attended a green building conference in Boulder and recalls shaking the hand of every person he encountered there.
“I wanted to find a fit for myself,” he says, “and I eventually met someone who was starting a solar installation company, so I signed on. I started as an intern and before long, I was installing photovoltaic panels and doing energy audits on homes in the Boulder area.”
Since then, Rubin’s career has involved a series of progressively more responsible roles, primarily in the solar industry. He went to work for Radiance Solar in Atlanta and then SolarCity – one of this industry’s largest firms, which was purchased by Tesla in 2016. There, he oversaw the Northeast region as director of operations, which included 16 centers spread over six states with more than 1,000 employees. He says it was exciting to be in a field that was evolving from its infancy and satisfying to play a key role in helping each company grow.
“What we did in the solar industry,” he explains, “is develop a process to build residential solar projects at scale and high volume, which ultimately brought prices down for customers. My role at SolarCity and Tesla was to help build a scalable and safe process while growing a team of people who believe in and enjoy what they were doing. The intent was to make solar more affordable and more accessible.”
After six years at SolarCity and Tesla, Rubin was ready for a change. He savored the idea of getting in on the ground floor of a new clean-energy technology with the potential to get more people off fossil fuels. And the opportunity to help grow a team is something he had always relished. So he made the jump to Dandelion, where he now handles all aspects of the post-sale, post-design operations needed to complete a project.
“Geothermal is the most efficient way to heat and cool your home, but it is a very involved process to deploy,” he explains. “Traditionally it was very expensive, but Dandelion is changing that. We’ve developed our own heat pump, drill rig and a number of other innovations. We’re also building on the work that the solar industry has done in regard to financing options for the homeowner. Our objective is to add smart, clean and reliable electric assets to the grid while helping homeowners save on their heating bills.”