Donnel Baird, founder and CEO of BlocPower, grew up in a financially underserved community. Because the heating system in his family’s one bedroom apartment rarely worked, his parents would open the kitchen stove to provide heat, and open a window to release the carbon monoxide. Anecdotes like this reflect patterns of energy neglect and waste in inner-city buildings across America.

As the national project director for a Green Jobs coalition that partnered and consulted with the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama Administration, Donnel witnessed firsthand the difficulties that came with financing energy efficiency projects. These challenges are due mostly to the high costs of engineering and financial analyses on a building-by-building basis, and lack of available capital.

The solution.

BlocPower’s mission is to analyze, finance, and install energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in buildings in low-income communities. Working closely with community leaders and institutions, BlocPower gathers 4 or more small- and medium-sized enterprises (such as non-profits, houses of worship, schools, and multi-family residences) in financially underserved communities into a “Bloc.” These “Blocs” reduce risks, create pricing discounts, and increase transactional size — improving the economic feasibility of projects.

BlocPower’s web interface allows users to input temperature, pressure, humidity, and utility data from each building and recommends financing and smart or renewable energy system upgrades for old, inefficient energy systems. Their cloud-based machine learning platform also connects to thermostats and building control systems to analyze optimal performance in real-time.

This service is not only valuable to building owners (who can decrease their energy costs by 20% to 50%), but also to utilities who need retrofits to reduce energy demand in hard to reach parts of their grids. It also helps government and city officials looking to reduce emissions (initial results show 2-3% reduction in GHG emissions) and reach their renewable energy goals.

What makes them special?

BlocPower focuses entirely on financially underserved communities. They are helping low-income communities access the social, environmental, and financial impact of greening their buildings.