Circles of Support: Bernhard Leans In Offers Employees a Chance to Network, Learn, Lead and Grow

Bernhard’s never-ending quest to create the leaders and can-do attitudes needed for another century of growth is a big part of why we’re excited about our latest culture initiative: Bernhard Leans In.

We believe a company should be more than just a place to earn a paycheck. Building an organization that’s ready for what’s next, driven by interconnected teams that come together to weather the storm requires creating not just a company, but a community. A network of opportunity, peer support, and a platform for personal and professional growth that gives every employee the tools, connections and confidence they need to be their best selves.

Built on a network of small discussion groups called “Lean In Circles” that can be created and led by any Bernhard employee, the program is focused on inspiring discussion, education and connection, backed by step-by-step guides to help Circle members get the most out of every meeting. Designed to help Bernhard employees connect through their unique backgrounds and interests, Lean In Circles are welcoming, supportive spaces to share experiences and tackle questions among peers. Circles are formed around a common thread, from the unique issues faced by minorities in leadership roles to the concerns of new parents balancing their work-life.

The goal of Bernhard Leans In is creating a community of connection that helps employees feel more empowered and ready to achieve their personal and professional ambitions.


Though Bernhard Leans In is open to all, Lean In was originally conceived and established as a global initiative dedicated to helping empower women in the workplace. Launched by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to coincide with the publication of her 2013 book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” the initiative was created to help women achieve their full potential by encouraging them to “lean in” to their goals without settling for less.

Studies have shown two-thirds of participants in Lean In Circles have taken on new challenges as a result of their involvement, while 73% feel equipped to be better leaders.

Created around traits like ethnicity, job title, or personal milestones like being a new parent or a young professional, these small discussion groups foster honest and open communication, help employees broaden their professional networks, encourage discussion with colleagues that participants might not otherwise interact with on a regular basis and build connections and collaboration.

Lean in Circles usually come together virtually for an hour each month to connect and discuss a specific topic. Meetings follow a standard agenda centered around education or connection activities from one of many step-by-step discussion guides available through the

Every Lean In Circle is unique. The participants decide the size of the group, how often it meets, what topics are discussed, activities and more. Ideally, the goal is for participants to leave their Lean In Circle meeting every month having learned new skills through peer mentorship and structured discussion.


There are currently 20 Circles in Bernhard’s Lean In network, with over 150 employees participating in discussions. Established by Bernhard’s Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Alyssa Jaksich and ESG Analyst Ashtyn Bell, the Bernhard Lean In network includes Circles for remote workers, women in management, African American employees, LGBT+ employees, deaf and hard of hearing employees, participants in Bernhard’s Young Professionals program, and more.


Participating in Bernhard Leans In offers numerous benefits for employees both personally and in their career:

  • COMMUNITY BUILDING: Ever wish you could find a supportive community in the workplace for your specific goals or lived experience? That’s what Lean In Circles are all about: connecting with colleagues who understand your ambitions, challenges, and experiences.
  • PEER MENTORSHIP: Bernhard Leans In gives employees the opportunity to learn from each other, fostering the culture of mutual growth and mentorship that has helped Bernhard excel since 1919.
  • FOSTERING LEADERSHIP: By participating in Lean In Circles, employees can improve a range of career-building, leadership-ready skills, from public speaking to leading crucial conversations.
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Being married to the grind is yesterday’s career strategy. Today’s plan: taking advantage of professional education and networking opportunities like Bernhard Leans In.
  • PERSONAL GROWTH: What qualities define personal wellness and growth? Confidence, resilience, being tactful but honest with others, especially about your concerns. Lean In Circle discussions help participants build these crucial skills.
  • DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: Diversity and inclusion are more than just words at Bernhard. By providing space for diverse groups to learn, discuss and engage in issues important to them, we’re honoring our commitment to real, meaningful inclusivity.
  • NETWORKING: Business is about who you know. How will someone you become acquainted with through a Lean In Circle today be able to help you in business or your career tomorrow?
  • EMPOWERMENT: It’s not called “Lean In” for nothing. By giving employees the ability to create communities and head up discussions, Bernhard Leans In empowers employees to follow their ambitions and take on leadership roles within their most authentic selves.

It’s our hope that the launch of Bernhard Leans In will help every team member feel more empowered to achieve their personal and professional goals while building new connections and creating a more united Bernhard.

About the Author:

Alyssa Jaksich is currently the Chief of Staff and Head of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) at Bernhard where she develops, consolidates, operationalizes, and publicizes Bernhard’s ESG strategies and initiatives through coordination with multiple internal teams and business stakeholders, furthering Bernhard’s ongoing mission of promoting sustainability. She previously served as Bernhard’s Vice President of EaaS implementation where she led a team focused on increasing efficiencies within the solutions division at Bernhard, particularly related to Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) projects. She was a key driver in the development of Bernhard’s industry leading measurement and verification services, and was heavily involved in the development of numerous EaaS projects. Jaksich earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., double majoring in chemical physics and economics.

A Pledge for Tomorrow: What Signing the Health Sector Climate Pledge Means for Your Hospital

By: Diana Husmann, David Lamberson, Cami Lambert 

Climate change is no longer tomorrow’s threat. From record heat waves and flooding to life-threatening tornadoes and hurricanes, it is on our doorstep, creating devastation that takes a real toll on our communities.

Hospitals are not immune to these challenges. Relying on complex, interconnected infrastructure that’s often spread over dozens of acres, campus-based hospitals are uniquely vulnerable to high winds, flooding and power grid failures that are a hallmark of dangerous weather. Nevertheless, healthcare facilities must remain operational no matter what comes, both to protect current patients and help communities recover in the aftermath of extreme events.

Recognizing this, the White House and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the Health Sector Climate Pledge on Earth Day 2022. Built around a three-step pledge that can help healthcare facilities reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect vital infrastructure from extreme weather, this voluntary commitment is an important step towards a more sustainable, less vulnerable future for healthcare in the United States.

Is your organization interested in signing the Health Sector Climate Pledge, but doesn’t know where to start on requirements like data collection, planning, monitoring and compliance? With a decades-long track record of helping hospitals reduce GHG emissions and harden their infrastructure against devastating weather events, Bernhard is uniquely positioned to help hospitals meet the goals of this important pledge.

Here’s how your organization can prepare to take the pledge.


Introduced by the White House and HHS in April 2022, the Health Sector Climate Pledge is a voluntary commitment to infrastructure resilience and emissions reduction by healthcare organizations in the U.S. There are three main commitments in the pledge:

  • Signees commit to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (as compared to a baseline taken no earlier than 2008) and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Signees should also make public announcements of their progress toward these goals every year.
  • Signees commit to conduct an inventory of overall Scope 3 emissions by the end of 2024 and designate an employee at the executive level to spearhead progress on reducing emissions by the end of 2023.
  • By the end of 2023, signees commit to create and publicly release a Climate Resilience Plan for ensuring uninterrupted operation of critical services during extreme weather events. The plan should make an effort to anticipate the needs of groups in the local community that are particularly at risk of climate-related harm.

As of April 2023, 116 organizations representing 872 U.S. hospitals had signed the Health Sector Climate Pledge, including medical centers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies and more.

Demand to sign beyond the October 2022 deadline was so great that on March 9, HHS announced they would accept new signatories to the pledge indefinitely. Under the revised rules, organizations can sign the pledge at any time, and will be recognized in official announcements by HHS issued twice each year. Organizations that submit their pledge form by November 1, 2023, will be included in an announcement during the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Between public healthcare organizations and Federal health systems that have taken similar pledges, more than 1,100 private sector and government hospitals have joined the effort, representing more than 15% of hospitals in the United States.


While the three-step framework of the Health Sector Climate Pledge seems simple, anyone who has spent time in administration, maintenance or energy systems on a large campus understands what a lift it will be for many hospitals. Compliance requires complex monitoring, planning, resource allocation and reporting within a tight timeframe. It’s a big ask even for the most well-oiled organizations. There are, however, a few resources available that can help.

For example, if you’re interested in meeting the resilience planning requirements of the Health Sector Climate Pledge, the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is particularly helpful.

Developed in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the toolkit includes materials and resources to help hospitals evaluate their systems and prepare for climate-related disasters.

For hospitals, one of the most important tools in the toolkit is the Steps to Resilience process.


The Steps to Resilience process is designed to help organizations recognize, identify and make plans to address climate change-related vulnerabilities and risks to critical operations. Once issues have been identified, the process helps stakeholders prioritize issues, evaluate solutions and identify opportunities for improvement.

Before beginning the Steps to Resilience process, you should assemble a planning team. It  can be helpful to appoint a specific team leader for each step of the process.


Look closely at your organization’s most critical assets: the people, infrastructure and services that are crucial to your hospital’s ability to continue caring for patients and saving lives.

Consider how those assets might be disrupted by weather-related events like tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding, but also attacks on the power grid, chemical spills on nearby highways or railways, earthquakes, etc.

Ideally, you’ll want to document potential impacts with an exposure matrix, and inventory spatial, quantitative and qualitative data for later review with your organization’s planning team.


Collect information on how frequently various disasters have occurred in your region in the past, then determine whether climate change is likely to increase the likelihood or severity of those events over time. Consider these risks carefully.

Once you’ve identified and categorized the risks, use assessment rules to create impact statements and synthesize your findings for the planning team.


This step is the opportunity to review and consider your team’s findings from steps 1 and 2, then use the insights you’ve gained to explore strategies to protect critical assets in a disaster.

Be sure to research products or outside solutions that might improve various vulnerabilities and reallocate existing resources or low-cost workarounds. Work to identify which options would be most acceptable to your community.


In this step, it’s up to your team to design and write an implementation plan for the strategies you’ve identified. Prioritize risks and potential solutions by their impact on the overall resilience of your facility and mission-critical services.

Evaluate both resource allocation and budgetary cost of implementing the strategies you’ve identified. Avoid groupthink by giving your team room to address any doubts or uncertainties they might have without judgment. Finally, write an implementation plan that includes short, medium and long-term goals and priorities.


Planning is one thing. Execution is another. Now that you have an implementation plan, it’s time to take action. Identify and seek opportunities for funding or financing your identified strategies, including private and federal decarbonization grants. Create a plan to monitor your organization’s progress and share what you’ve learned, constantly adapting your strategies to the challenges and successes you see.


Greenhouse gas reduction is a complicated, incremental puzzle, and nobody has a crystal ball that can see the next catastrophic weather event.

With headquarters on the Gulf Coast and decades in the Energy-as-a-Service industry, Bernhard has helped hospitals all over the United States inventory and reduce Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions and develop Climate Action Plans while strengthening critical infrastructure against the worst climate change can throw their way.

Reducing GHG emissions and protecting critical systems is what we do every day for dozens of clients. From Category 5 hurricanes to power blackouts, Bernhard knows how to help hospitals plan for and survive catastrophic events. We also understand how important setting and meeting actionable decarbonization goals can be to a large campus organization.

Our specialized decarbonization and infrastructure teams evaluate and find vulnerabilities others have missed, and turn infrastructure into resilient, closely monitored systems hospitals can trust when everything is on the line for their community.

It’s what we do. Bernhard is ready to help your large-campus hospital understand the Health Sector Climate Pledge, meet its requirements, and abide by its stipulations for years to come.

Using Monitoring-Based Commissioning to Meet Decarbonization Goals

Finding the right strategy to reach significant decarbonization goals is a complicated task for any organization. That’s especially true for large-campus facilities like hospitals and universities.

With monitoring-based commissioning and next-generation energy analytics platforms like Bernhard Connect®, campus-based facilities have the tools they need to plan for, set and reach important decarbonization targets. By utilizing this software, they can improve operational resiliency, reduce waste, head off issues before they develop into serious problems and realize sizable savings on annual energy spend.

What is monitoring-based commissioning?

Monitoring-based commissioning is a process by which a building’s energy use, efficiency and performance is continually monitored and analyzed using data from remote sensors. These sensors can be installed almost anywhere without major retrofitting, delivering real-time information on HVAC equipment, compressors, internal air temperatures, pumps, chillers, airflow and more.

At Bernhard, our MBCx programs leverage the power of Bernhard Connect®, cloud-based energy analytics platform. Built for automation, ease of use, and agility, Bernhard Connect® features customizable dashboards that can be tailored to prioritize areas of greatest concern or specific goals. It’s the cost-effective energy analytics solution many large-campus facilities have been looking for, allowing them to address their most pressing efficiency challenges and reach decarbonization goals.

By carefully studying this data, facility operators can identify opportunities for improvement, make small tweaks to optimize energy efficiency, prioritize maintenance and ensure that systems are operating as designed.

Utilizing next-generation, cloud-based analytics software, monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) can often be performed by a handful of employees, working either remotely or from a centralized monitoring center. With automatic fault detection and alerts, issues can be detected and sometimes even fixed or bypassed as they happen, helping keep systems working at optimal efficiency to maximize decarbonization efforts and protect mission-critical services. Collected and archived, the data also allows facilities to adjust their efforts, track progress and develop fact-driven, impactful strategies for operations and future maintenance.

Why choose analytics and MBCx for large-campus facilities?

There are a number of reasons why making progress toward decarbonization is easier for large campuses with MBCx and advanced analytics in place.

Campus-based facilities often include a collection of buildings of varying sizes and roles, built to a variety of construction and environmental standards during the past 50 years or more. These buildings may have different insulation ratings, antiquated windows, lighting, heating, cooling and air management systems, or rely on control systems and infrastructure that might be decades past the point of obsolescence. Many times, wasteful infrastructure is held together just well enough to keep it running, but far below peak efficiency. With so much to handle and parts for aging systems difficult or impossible to come by, large-campus facilities often have a long list of deferred maintenance items.

Because of these factors, it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to develop a meaningful decarbonization strategy and timeline for a large campus. Once the most obvious performance issues have been corrected, decarbonization is often a game of inches, finding efficiencies and slight performance discrepancies that eventually add up to meaningful progress, often during months or years.

By choosing MBCx and advanced energy analytics platforms like Bernhard Connect®, large-campus facility operators can see where improvement needs to be made and which decarbonization strategies would have the most impact. Allowing a small team to monitor potentially hundreds of complex performance indicators in multiple buildings at once, MBCx lets campuses focus their resources and make steady, meaningful progress over time as budgets and workforce allow, while mitigating performance drift that can bleed away decarbonization wins as quickly as they’re made.

In the short-term, O&M teams can see which buildings or deferred maintenance items are the highest hurdles for decarbonization goals, allowing them to prioritize those fixes that can realize the biggest improvements in the shortest amount of time. Long-term, MBCx and archival data allows teams to find hidden inefficiencies and equipment performance issues that might have been too subtle to easily notice before. Meanwhile, automatic, customizable fault detection allows monitoring teams to recognize and act on the warning signs that could indicate a major problem is brewing, even when tracking dozens or hundreds of performance indicators.

Take control and meet your goals

Flying blind on energy use and efficiency is a big part of why many large facilities see their energy costs and carbon footprint grow year after year, often putting even modest decarbonization goals out of reach. With MBCx and advanced analytics platforms like Bernhard Connect®, operators can access the archival data, remote management and real-time system information they need to make ambitious decarbonization goals a reality, usually while finding enough annual energy savings to make MBCx efforts pay for themselves and then some.

Think MBCx, energy analytics and Bernhard Connect® might be the right path for your large-campus decarbonization goals? Bernhard has been helping hospitals and universities decarbonize and find significant energy savings for more than two decades. Our team of experts is ready to put that experience to work for you. Learn more about our work or contact us today to get started.