Valerie Gardner has focused on studying and developing meaningful ways for individuals to respond to climate change. She started by creating educational programs at schools, then moved to developing community environmental programs starting in 2007. By 2010, she began exploring how best to decrease fossil fuel and carbon emissions from investment portfolios and developed the Future Generation portfolio, a "post-carbon priced" portfolio strategy. Her search for alternative clean energy solutions led her to re-examine nuclear power. In 2016, she co-founded the Climate Coalition with a partner, a Sierra Club chapter president, who was afraid of coming out publicly in favor of nuclear power for fear of backlash by his environmental colleagues. The Climate Coalition is working to broaden acceptance among environmentalists for support of nuclear power in the fight against climate change.