The Energy & Environment Innovation Foundation (EEIF) was established in 2017 to address the growing need for practical and cost-effective solutions for providing clean energy and clean water.   Most people agree that clean energy and clean water are essential for human beings to survive and enjoy life, but how to preserve these fundamental building blocks of a sustainable lifestyle is often more difficult.    The professionals at EEIF are uniquely qualified because our team consists of highly experienced engineers and scientists, who are balanced by practical experience and common sense from working with sustainable farmers and general contractors.   Our unique mix of project experience and capabilities allows us to address the problems of energy and the environment from both a scientific and pragmatic perspective.

Our relatively small, but capable team is actively engaged with some of the largest companies in the United States to offer solutions on a wide variety of coal ash remediation projects, water resource management, sustainable farming, and STEM education projects.   We expect that you will find our website is a trusted resource for technical information, and will challenge you to think “outside the box” when it comes to building and living in a sustainable society.   Thank you for taking the time to learn about the unique, technically sound and optimistic approach of the Energy & Environment Innovation Foundation team.

Location, Purpose and Objectives

We are located in the PORTAL Building on UNC Charlotte’s research campus, and work closely with the UNC Charlotte Energy Production Infrastructure (EPIC) and a wide variety of applied research organizations across the United States.

Purpose & Objectives:

  • Offer “practical and tactical” solutions for a wide variety of energy and environmental issues, including coal ash basin closure, beneficial reuse of industrial waste materials and applied research for renewable energy storage.
  • Serve as an interface between environmental groups and industry to address the complexities of the Water, Energy and Food nexus on the rivers of the United States.
  • Utilize our knowledge about energy and the environment to offer work force training and assistance with STEM education.
  • Participation in public organizations such as the Catawba Wateree Water Management Group (CWWMG), the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) to provide meaningful input to both industry and environmental groups.
  • Able to obtain funding and perform applied research project management on wide variety of industrial waste remediation, renewable energy storage, coal ash beneficial use and energy liquid waste treatment projects.


To develop a team of practical applied researchers, contractors, engineers, and sustainable farmers who solve challenging problems with the water, energy and food/farming nexus in such a way that they inspire others to do the same.

The EEIF team and its strategic partners and stakeholders are driven to find solutions that are both innovative and practical so they can be applied in everyday life.   Our goal is to be an optimistic, yet realistic “change agent” by focusing on a few key initiatives.

  • Leading and Serving the Coal Ash and Liquid Management (CALM) Initiative: The CALM Initiative is one of the largest construction and engineering consortiums in the United States that is focused almost exclusively on cleaning up the challenging problem of coal fly ash and other coal combustion residuals (CCR).   EEIF leadership team is actively engaged in hosting a wide variety of new technology initiatives to cost effectively remediate and/or beneficially use CCRs.
  • Safety Awareness and Training for Coal Ash Basin Workers: Working in and around wet coal ash basins presents unique challenges that are often outside the limits of conventional geotechnical and environmental engineering and construction.   At the same time the electric power industry is focused and dedicated to a “zero injury” target for any and all work on its coal ash basin sites.   EEIF is a leader in developing new ways to compute and monitor the subgrade stability and environmental conditions in and around coal ash impoundments.
  • Sustainable Farming and Clean Water: EEIF is currently working on stakeholder groups that align a wide variety of land management and clean water initiatives in the Catawba Wateree Water Management Group (CWWMG).  The longterm plan is to work with Duke Energy, local farmers and the water districts of the CWWMG to improve land management, increase food production and manage the life cycle cost of energy production.
  • STEM Education with an Environment and Energy Focus: The Charlotte region is the energy hub of the United States and is dedicated to training workers that can serve the energy industry over the next 20 to 50 years.   EEIF knows that to do this we need to start in elementary schools and middle schools to increase knowledge and STEM skills in our young students with “hands-on” learning activities.   We demonstrate this initiative by obtaining grants and completing projects with our sister, non-profit company Rivendell Farms of the Carolinas.

The EEIF Team includes:

Chris Hardin, PE -- Managing Director

Ric Traver, PE -- Senior Technical Coordinator CALM Initiative Projects

Jeffie Hardin -- Chief Operating Officer & Director of Education Programs

Erin Hostetler -- Project Coordinator

Our corporate philosophy and motto is fairly simple.   We take a “common sense” approach to solving some of the worlds most complex and challenging problems.     Webster defines “common sense” as:   sound and prudent judgment, based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.  Of course, in this day and age sound and prudent judgement is often rare, so when in doubt EEIF works closely with other common sense advisers who help us maintain a simple perception of the situation and facts.

Our vision is to develop innovative methods and work with others who have a similar passion, and to make a difference in the world around us.   The way we maintain our passion for what can be a challenging and somewhat impossible pursuit, is to stay grounded, keep focused and remain positive.   We stay grounded by working with farmers and the practical people who are involved with the production of electric power for us every day.   The EEIF team stays focused and positive by recognizing that the world needs a practical approach to sustainable living and that ultimately everything is in God’s hands.


Ash Basin Worker Safety Awareness Course


CALM Meeting 2017


Project Portfolio