Mission & Purpose

publicationsThe Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment (FREE) is a non-profit, international organization established to promote a better future based on energy, water and materials conservation, renewable energy use, environmental resilience, and sustainable livelihoods.

Guided by experts and distinguished academics, FREE sponsors research, supports graduate education and consults with organizations on strategies to create new sustainability models, to advise policy makers and other societal leaders, and to provide outreach to communities seeking to transform energy-environment-society relations.

Managing an active agenda of conferences, films, exhibitions, seminars, and publications, FREE works with cities, non-profits, governments, businesses, and academic institutions around the world on environment and renewable energy issues.

FREE was founded in 2011 by Dr. John Byrne, Director and Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, Ken Becker of Becker Capital, and Maya Stendhal of Madison Global Advisors.

A unique feature of FREE is its ability to harness the creativity and wide bandwidth of expertise of an evolving network of more than 300 PhD and masterʼs graduates active in over 40 countries. Educated in the first U.S. graduate program in the field of energy & environmental policy, these FREE Minds are a vital resource enabling the Foundation to address the pressing issues of our era with the sort of in-depth and diverse thinking they require.

Research and Education

  • Research and educational innovation are the backbone of FREE’s mission. The Foundation works to develop leading-edge technical, economic and policy analyses and education approaches that answer the need for significant change.
  • We sponsor graduate students from around the world with scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and internships that concentrate on the problems of energy and environmental sustainability, equity, security and resilience.

Project Development

  • FREE provides analysis, evaluation, and policy advice to cities, institutions, non-profit agencies, and non-governmental groups. Formulated within FREE’s Research and Education program, these projects aim to prepare carbon footprint and greenhouse gas reduction plans, and their implementation.
  • Design of community, city and regional ʻbest practices,ʼ which use sustainability planning and integrated conservation and renewable energy development tools to lower consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing social and ecological resilience.
  • Examples include: redesign of building and zoning codes to promote ʻnet zero energy useʼ buildingscapes; the design and execution of sustainable energy financing tools ranging from tax-exempt bonds to renewable energy service purchase agreements; the development of sustainable communities programs using a wide variety of investment approaches (for example, on-bill and property-assessed financing tools); and the creation of education and outreach initiatives to empower individuals and communities to evaluate and choose actions which prioritize sustainability.

New Nature-Society Models

  • Development of Sustainable Energy Utilities (SEU) and other institutional and policy reforms that promise to bring about large transformations in energy-environment-society relations.
  • These models aim to build the basis for communities and societies to design futures which conserve rather than expand energy, materials and natural resource use and which rely on renewable energy services rather than the depletion of natural stocks.
  • SEUs offer a new institutional direction for social, economic and policy innovation that can bring about large-scale change. They provide the point-of-contact for energy and environmental innovation that can govern our transformation to a sustainable future that is comparable in scale and impact to the 20th utility, which guided the build-out of the conventional energy sector. (Please see press excerpts below for more information on the SEU).
  • For more detailed info of Delaware SEU Model, please click here


  • FREE organizes and participates in conferences, seminars, forums, exhibitions, films, documentaries, and other communication efforts, in order to improve public understanding of our sustainability challenge and the policies, technologies and social actions needed to meet this challenge.
  • FREE is committed to improve the performance of government and other non-profit institutions in the areas of sustainability, renewable energy, conservation, and other efforts supportive of FREEʼs mission.
  • The Foundation promotes school and other competitions among youth (under 18 years of age) that nourish the development of new ideas and practices in the areas of sustainability, renewable energy, conservation, and other concepts, which support FREEʼs mission.