Interview with Marlon Kobacker

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Marlon Kobacker, the co-founder and director of Sustainable Future Group in Sydney, Australia.

Tell me about yourself.

I currently live and work in Sydney, New South Wales, which, despite all the international travel I’ve done over the years, has been my home for quite some time now. I am also the co-founder and director of Sustainable Future Group, a firm that offers guidance on how to holistically incorporate environmentally sustainable principles for the purpose of establishing more cost-efficient operational processes.

How does it feel to be the first student to graduate from the world’s first undergraduate program in Photovoltaic Engineering at the University of New South Wales? And what exactly is Photovoltaic Engineering?

Photovoltaic engineering encompasses quite a few areas, but its primary focus is on solar energy utilization and photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic engineering program at UNSW pioneered this area of academic study to include research and development opportunities, which also played a role in positioning New South Wales and even Australia as a whole as a global leader and innovative force in the advance of solar energy.

It was an interesting and enlightening experience being the first student to graduate from the program, and I still feel a great sense of pride knowing that my contributions as both a student and instructor have played a role in making the UNSW program what it is today.

Can you give us an example of how a company may reduce operational costs and environmental impacts?

Whenever we work with a company on reducing operational costs as well as environmental impacts, we find it is most effective to thoroughly review the most critical aspects of the operation first, including the general infrastructure of the building and the overall utility usage associated with the company’s operations.

After a thorough review of these operational aspects, we can then consider the best strategy for reducing operational cost expenditures while simultaneously achieving the company’s individual sustainability goals. We might help a company accomplish this by developing a strategy for reducing energy or water usage, or perhaps by incorporating a commercial solar photovoltaic system. The key is to develop a highly individualized approach based on the company’s unique operational requirements.

Do you have tips for the average person to live “cleaner”?

The easiest way to begin living in a more environmentally responsible manner — “cleaner,” or “greener,” so to speak — is to become better educated on how your current lifestyle has an impact on the environment. Riding a bike to work or to the store might be appropriate for some people, and others might find it more feasible to set up rain barrels for water collection and to install solar panels to meet their energy needs. It all begins with becoming better educated on the subject and making the appropriate changes wherever possible.

Do you have any hobbies outside your work environment?

At UNSW, I was a part of the Ultimate Frisbee Club, so I often meet up with some of the other former members of the club still living in the Sydney area for some informal weekend Ultimate Frisbee competition.

Thanks for the interview, Marlon! You can connect with Marlon Kobacker on LinkedIn