Meet Climate Tech Fellow: Heidi Dumesich

Holly Brooks
January 18, 2024

Meet Heidi

Heidi Dumesich is a dedicated and skilled professional in the field of sustainability. Heidi is currently the Sustainability Manager at Ventia. In this role, Heidi is responsible for managing, reporting and implementing innovative sustainability practices for the Sydney Roads Asset Performance contract (SRAPC) with Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW). This role requires a lot of thought into the sustainability of different road materials such as asphalt. Apart from her full-time role, Heidi also co-hosts the podcast "Life on Planet A" which she has been doing since March 2020. This podcast focuses on sustainability, the environment, politics, and various global issues.

What is the Fellowship to you?

I applied for the Climate Tech Fellowship to enhance my understanding of the climate change problem and meet like-minded people who care about making the world a better place. The Fellowship was an amazing 8-week experience where I engaged in interesting conversations with a range of different people. I was able to have debates and conversations which broadened my mind to different issues and potential solutions to climate change.

We learnt about climate tech solutions but also how finance and politics play a part in the transition to a sustainable future. The main thing that I took away from the Fellowship was the community; which includes joining their amazing run club! As a bonus, through my podcast, I leveraged Startmates’ pool of talented individuals for potential interview opportunities

What lessons did you learn from The Fellowship?

The Fellowship opened my eyes to a lot of different companies and ideas that I did not know about. First, it was interesting to learn how hard it is to get Venture Capital (VC) funding for climate tech startups. Initially, I assumed investing in such future-forward initiatives would be obvious, but it turns out the reality is far more complex and somewhat disheartening. Additionally, I gained insight into the various strategies necessary to keep global temperature rise under the critical 2-degree threshold. These strategies span from enhancing energy efficiency to curbing deforestation. But what truly captivated me was discovering innovative local startups. Hullbot particularly stood out; they create underwater robots to clean boat hulls. It was fascinating to learn how simply cleaning a boat’s bottom can significantly reduce fuel consumption.

What area of climate tech are you most interested in?

During the Fellowship, we were asked to dive into a particular climate change issue. I learned from someone else in the Fellowship about a startup they were working on with a material called Hempcrete. Hempcrete is a construction building material that uses hemp shives, aggregate, water, and a type of binder to act as a non-bearing wall. This material is important because it is a natural and breathable material that stores carbon.

This introduction to Hempcrete sparked an interest in me concerning alternative and clean construction materials. The reason for this newfound fascination stems from the fact that the production of building materials contributes to 11% of global emissions. This is an alarming statistic that underscores the urgent need for innovation and carbon reduction strategies in this sector. The materials space, therefore, presents an opportunity for impactful environmental changes.

I realised that the potential of sustainable materials like Hempcrete isn’t just in their low carbon footprint. These materials also offer benefits like improved indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and long-term durability. The innovative use of natural resources in construction opens up many possibilities for redefining our built environment in harmony with nature.

Reflection of the Fellowship?

I would highly recommend the Climate Tech Fellowship to anyone who wants to get into the climate tech space. The Fellowship provides a great overview of the overall climate tech landscape and a great network of intelligent and caring people. I value the community and the opportunities that the Fellowship provided me and I will always be in touch with the people I have met. 

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