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MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative

The Power of S-Lab and the Sustainability Initiative Clean Energy Network


When Kevin Berkemeyer graduated in 2014 with an MBA, his relationship with MIT Sloan and the Sustainability Initiative didn’t end there. As soon as he co-founded his clean energy startup, Station A, in 2018, he turned to Jason Jay and the Sustainable Business Lab (S-Lab) to help grow his business.

Station A helps companies evaluate and competitively source clean energy—mainly solar and battery—for their buildings. In the early stages of the firm’s development, Kevin sought guidance and mentorship from Jason and hosted several S-Lab teams. The MIT students assisted him with projects involving primary market research, pricing, market segmentation, and more. 

“At the time, we were a small venture-backed firm with a few people, in discovery mode,” Kevin says. “To have access to the Initiative and S-Lab as resources was so helpful—our S-Lab students literally helped us build our company.”

One of those S-Lab students was Almas Kaptagayev, MBA ’21, a mid-career Sloan Fellow earning a Sustainability Certificate, eager to make a career shift into the clean energy space. Almas knew next to nothing about renewables, but with 15 years of business transformation experience in the global oil and gas industry, he understood digital applications.

“Station A was my first choice for S-Lab,” Almas says. “I had experience in digital business and Kevin’s firm developed a digital platform to help clients make decisions about renewables.” 

Kevin tasked Almas’ S-Lab team with figuring out how Station A could expand into the clean energy market, attracting more clean energy buyers to their platform.

Kevin Berkemeyer | Founder, Station A, MBA ’19
To have access to the Initiative and S-Lab as resources was so helpful—our S-Lab students literally helped us build our company.

“We discovered that owners of different types of properties make decisions differently,” Almas says. “We tried to pinpoint what data points different customers might need to make a decision about renewables. Do they understand them? If not, how can we help them do so, thereby accelerating their decision-making process?” 

The Sustainability Initiative Network

Today, Almas is putting to use what he learned at MIT and Station A as senior manager of energy and sustainability for Lineage North America. One of the world’s leading temperature-controlled industrial REITs, Lineage has a global network of over 480 facilities, totaling nearly 2.9 billion cubic feet of capacity across 18 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. The company partners with the world’s largest food and beverage companies to increase distribution efficiency, advance sustainability, minimize supply chain waste, and, most importantly, help feed the world. Almas describes it simply as Amazon for food. 

When the corporation hired Almas in 2021, it had no formal sustainability or energy team. Almas partnered with Chris Thurston, director in corporate finance, who had already been running several energy initiatives. In short order, they spun off from finance and formed the energy and sustainability team. In 2022, the company published its first ESG report, which included a climate pledge that Lineage would aim to be net zero across global operations by 2040. 

To help the company reach these ambitious goals, with a team of just five people, Almas began to tackle a massive slate of projects. Maybe too many. That’s when he turned to the Sustainability Initiative network, his former S-Lab host Kevin, and Station A. 

“It’s been an amazing experience so far, building everything from scratch at Lineage, and learning new ways of working with our energy developers,” Almas says, “but with so many locations and moving so fast toward our sustainability goals, I needed to diversify our approach.”


Megawatts of solar generated by Lineage in 2022, making them the 5th largest generator of on-site solar in the US

Ironically, Almas was now the energy buyer, on the other side of the fence from his S-Lab role at Station A. It was his turn to seek help from Kevin in managing and developing projects. Today, Almas and his small Lineage team are handling 20 development projects. He’s outsourced another 20 to Station A. 

“Kevin is helping us find local developers in Louisiana, get bids, and offer us ranked options. Together, we’re running in parallel, accelerating our speed toward our targets and goals,” Almas says, goals that include installing rooftop solar and energy storage solutions on as many of Lineage’s 200 facilities in North America as possible. Since Almas and Kevin have partnered, three solar projects in Louisiana are in development, including two on warehouses that are among the top ten energy users in the company. As of 2022, Lineage ranked as the fifth largest corporate user of onsite solar generating capability in the United States—that’s 108 MW of capacity across its U.S. network—with more to come.

Looking back, Almas says S-Lab was one of the best courses he took at MIT. “Because of S-Lab, I was more confident to explore the clean energy space, and frankly, I was more equipped to be hired. I feel like I’m in the right space now. And I love what I’m doing.”

A Partnership Making an Impact

From Station A’s vantage point, Lineage is a major new client, especially for a startup only six years old. “In S-Lab, Almas really got to know our product and what we do,” says Kevin, “We were thrilled when he reached out. Lineage is a leader in the industry and we are excited to help them expand and scale their efforts to deploy more clean energy. Being able to say Lineage is our customer has boosted our market credibility tremendously.” 

Almas Kaptagayev | Senior Manager of Energy and Sustainability, Lineage North America, MBA ’21
Because of S-Lab, I was more confident to explore the clean energy space, and frankly, I was more equipped to be hired.

The partnership of these two Sloan alumni will undoubtedly result in a major increase in Lineage’s clean energy production—and lower carbon emissions. Although their MIT days are over, Almas and Kevin each know their ties to the Institute, Sloan, and the Sustainability Initiative will remain strong. 

“There is still a lot more the Sustainability Initiative and MIT have to offer us,” says Almas. Kevin and Station A continue to host S-Lab teams, while Almas is part of an MIT What’s App group called Energy Nerds—a vast network that gives him ongoing access to everyone involved in clean energy at MIT.

For more info Jennifer Graham Associate Director, Sustainability (617) 324-9639