Going green to make green: alumnus helps clients find savings in sustainability
Profits and environmental sustainability. What may seem like two concepts on opposite ends of the economic spectrum are actually mutually beneficial to businesses, according to Dominick Brook ’08, U.S. Leader—Global Sustainability Tax at Ernst & Young LLP (EY). As head of the U.S.-based sustainability tax practice at EY, Brook leads a team of 10 that helps clients find greater returns on investment for their sustainability efforts, whether that be in energy efficiency, emissions reductions, renewable energy, or green innovation.
“I went to law school because I wanted to work with businesses and I wanted to work in economic development. I never wanted a career as a traditional lawyer,” he said. “That’s why I joined EY, a large business consulting firm. Through my work I get to work with businesses to help them implement sustainability strategies in a cost effective manner, which helps drive economic development in a sustainable way.”
While there is no typical day at the office, Brook said he often spends around two days a week on the road visiting different clients and projects and the rest of the time in the Columbus office. He has assembled a highly skilled team of individuals who handle the work on each project, freeing him up to manage all of the team’s different ventures, while also allowing him to research new trends, opportunities, and services that will bring additional value to their clients.
“When you think about sustainability, if you can reduce energy costs, you’re reducing overall costs for the company and increasing profits at the same time as being sustainable. I like to show businesses how sustainability is good business policy, and how it can be a business driver,” he said.
While it can be difficult keeping up with new trends and legislation in the industry as government administrations identify new priorities, it forces Brook and his team to get creative to find new opportunities for clients to invest in as part of their sustainability efforts.
“One of the big areas we’re seeing at the moment is grant funding related to the replacement of heavy duty diesel vehicles with alternative fuel and cleaner vehicles, so we are putting more effort into working with clients on vehicle emission reductions now,” he said.
That same spirit of innovation is what first landed Brook in the sustainability tax practice in the first place. In law school, he participated in the Legislation Clinic where he was placed in the Ohio Governor’s office working on energy policy. Brook accredits his mentor in the program to sparing his interest in the field.
Brook started with EY in the credits and incentives practice just after graduation. Unfortunately, his first year out of law school was also the start of the Great Recession. Out of necessity, he began to look at how he could restructure his current work on credits and incentives to provide the most value to his clients.
“I began to look at where I thought things were going and where I saw most investments was in sustainability,” Brook said. “I saw a lot of investments being made in buildings were being certified as green buildings or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). So I got my LEED accredited professional certification and headed out to Vegas and teamed onLEED certifying a casino, which at the time was the largest LEED existing building in the world.”
From there, he worked with other casinos in the area on energy efficient lighting tax deductions. Seeing this growing practice, EY made a large investment into the area and Brook was able to build out what is now the firm’s sustainability tax practice.
The most rewarding part of the work is not only being able to help companies “go green,” but doing so in a way that is both affordable and beneficial in the long term for clients, Brook said. Looking back on the path that led him to where he is today, Brook said if he had one piece of advice he would share with current students it would be this: Keep on innovating.
“Don’t get stuck doing a certain thing, keep looking forward, keep looking for new opportunities, and don’t be scared to keep tweaking your path,” he said.