Aberdeen native Nat Kreamer, 37, was honored at the White House Tuesday morning alongside 11 other U.S. veterans for advancing the areas of clean energy and climate security.
While serving active duty in Navy in Afghanistan, Kreamer said he saw first-hand oversees the depth of the energy importation industry.
"I realized that you need to be an energy rich county," Kreamer said. "We are an energy rich country, but we set up our industry to buy dirty coal and oil from oversees."
According to research from Princeton University, the United States has spent at least $7.3 trillion over the last 30 years to defend its interest in the Persian Gulf, which supplied crude oils.
Kreamer said when he returned to the U.S. in 2006, he vowed to help America become less dependent on importation of "dirty energy" and advocate for clean energy resources.
"Fundamentally it's crazy that we are generating dirty energy at home from purchases oversees if we are able to build renewable energy sources at home that can power homes and cars," Kreamer said.
In 2007, he secured his first power purchase agreement to finance solar energy to homes. The same year, he helped kick-start SunRun, which became a leading provider in converting residential spaces to clean alternative energy around the country.
"It turns out we have a lot more sunshine than we do coal," Kreamer said.
Eventually, Kreamer became the CEO and member of the board of directors of Clean Power Finance, which has converted thousands of homes in 10 states including Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Arizona and Hawaii.
Kreamer said "dirty energy" sends off various metals, chemicals and toxins into the water supply and air as they are used. He said the use of these energy sources also makes the United States "economically, environmentally and politically unsustainable."
"I grew up in Aberdeen and I love the Chesapeake Bay," Kreamer said. "If you look at Maryland it has great natural resources and it's my hope that things like solar will help the economy, help people save money and help save great natural gems."
Kreamer attended Harford County Public Schools and graduated high school from Milton Academy in Massachusetts. He attended Northwestern University for undergraduate and received an MBA from Rice University.
During the event, Kreamer and the other honorees met with the secretaries and staff from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense to discuss their ideas on climate security and spoke on various panels.
Kreamer's mother, Barbara Osborn Kreamer, a former Harford County councilwoman and state delegate, said it was wonderful to see her son honored alongside some of the other greatest minds in clean energy.
"It was a wonderful day; it was just wonderful to see this diverse group," Kreamer said. "I use to be a pro environment vote in the legislature; it's so good to see people bring these changes into fruition."
The former delegate said she is proud to see her son pushing the country forward toward a more sustainable future.
"He has a strong vision of what we need to do as a nation and he works very hard to bring his vision to fruition," said the former state delegate.