Philadelphia Energy Authority looks to BlocPower’s business model while leveraging $1 billion in energy efficiency investments

The Philadelphia Energy Campaign is leveraging $1 billion in public and private investment in energy efficiency and clean energy projects over the next 10 years. The Philadelphia Energy Authority is looking to BlocPower’s business model and success in New York City to inform their strategy as they develop the Philadelphia Energy Campaign and aim to create 10,000 jobs and return $200 million in cost savings to the local economy. Hear BlocPower CEO, Donnel Baird, speak with Katie Colaneri on WHYY (Philadelphia Public Radio) about how BlocPower brings together investors and cutting edge technology to help low-to-moderate income building owners realize energy and cost savings for their buildings. Listen to the full story here.

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Honored to have Donnel Baird on Crain’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017!

Donnel

At BlocPower we are laser focused on developing tangible and accessible solutions to some of the most pressing clean energy and air quality challenges. And for most of us, this work is very personal.  Our co-founder and CEO, Donnel Baird, is honored to have our work recognized through Crain’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017. Read about how growing up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood helped give Donnel the inspiration to start BlocPower. “I’ve been thinking about these ideas for 15 years,” he said. “Our goal is to be able to do this in every city in the country.” Check out the full article here.

BlocPower’s Chief Engineer talks Data Science on stage at IBM Interconnect 2017!

“The future for us is all about connecting the digital world to the physical world.”   -BlocPower Chief Engineer, Tooraj Arvajeh in his Keynote speech, March 21 on stage at the IBM Interconnect 2017 conference.  Watch the full video:

Continue reading BlocPower’s Chief Engineer talks Data Science on stage at IBM Interconnect 2017!

Behind the Scenes: Developing Time Series Databases at BlocPower

As a software developer and an undergraduate student from the University of Waterloo, I had been looking for interesting companies where I could intern. As chance would have it, BlocPower was hiring database developers, and as I researched BlocPower, I realized I would be able to do great work here. Luckily, after interviewing with the principle data architect and CTO of BlocPower, I got matched to BlocPower. Continue reading Behind the Scenes: Developing Time Series Databases at BlocPower

Data-Driven Solutions for Our Mission-Driven Organization

BlocPower’s engineers recently asked the question: What tools exist that enable us to quickly apply different machine learning techniques to the data we collected when conducting energy audits of 300 buildings?  And how can we use this tool to predict all of New York City’s energy consumption? Read on to learn how we partnered with IBM for the answer. Continue reading Data-Driven Solutions for Our Mission-Driven Organization

Behind the Scenes: Working as a Data Scientist at BlocPower

I am truly excited and honored to be a data scientist at BlocPower. BlocPower offers me the chance to work in the most exciting job in the 21st century. In my role at BlocPower, I implement data analytics, machine learning and big data to solve building science and energy challenges.

Continue reading Behind the Scenes: Working as a Data Scientist at BlocPower

BlocPower interviewed at the New York Stock Exchange!

On Monday we announced the launch of our new crowdfunding site BlocPower Marketplace during an interview with Cheddar, a new media company founded by former BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg. Continue reading BlocPower interviewed at the New York Stock Exchange!

BlocPower’s Founders Live Interview on Cheddar media

BlocPower is so excited to have our company profiled live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with Cheddar today at 4:10pm Eastern!
Continue reading BlocPower’s Founders Live Interview on Cheddar media

Free Community Retrofit NYC Program Helps Your Building Save on Energy Bills

BlocPower is proud to be the lead contractor on Community Retrofit NYC, a free city program that helps small co-ops, condos and other 5-50 unit multi-family dwellings in central Brooklyn and southern Queens save energy. To find out how Community Retrofit can help, fill out this form, or call (347) 762-4792. Continue reading Free Community Retrofit NYC Program Helps Your Building Save on Energy Bills

A Note on Dr. King’s Suggestion to Have a Tough Mind, and a Tender Heart.

One of my favorite sermons by Dr. King is called “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart”.

It starts:
“A French philosopher once said that ‘No man is so strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked’. … The idealists are not usually realists, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not usually passive, and the passive are not usually militant… But life at its best is a creative synthesis. It is the binding together of opposites into fruitful harmony. As the philosopher Hegel said, “truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.

Dr. King goes on to quote the Gospel of Matthew: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”.
“It is pretty difficult,” King continues, “to imagine a single person having the characteristics of the serpent and the dove simultaneously…We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove…To have serpent-like qualities devoid of dove-like qualities is to be passionless, mean and selfish. To have dove-like qualities without serpent-like qualities is to be sentimental, anemic and aimless. We must combine in our characters antithesis, strongly marked.”

I love this speech because I think King is outlining the characteristics that he believes are necessary to help build a better world. Advocates, and activists and social entrepreneurs should take note: the speech is a mini-instruction manual for those who hope to drive social and environmental change.

In Industrial Areas Foundation led community organizing and leadership development trainings—which Senator Barack Obama told me in 2006 was the most valuable education he’d ever received—the concept of the “World as it Is” v. the “World as it Should Be” is central.

The “World as it Should Be” is an ideal, where society operates according to enlightened self interest, self sacrifice, compassion, and our highest and most moral shared values. The “World as it Is” is more brutal, zero-sum, and operates based on who has power, and who doesn’t. It operates on narrow self interest. You get what you’re strong enough to get. As Thucydides wrote, “The strong take what they can, and the weak take what they must”.

In this speech, Dr. King reminds us that our job is to use our tough mindedness to steel ourselves to navigate the “World as it Is”, while using tenderheartedness to keep the vision and goal of the “World as it Should Be” as our North Star.
Dr. King’s I have a Dream speech outlined the World As It Should Be.

Dr. King’s selection of which segregated cities and sheriffs might prove to be winnable targets, his use of the media, his relationship to the White House, his relationship to labor unions, and his decision to allow the children of Birmingham to march and protest against rabid local police—despite the likelihood that those children would be beaten and arrested–demonstrate a tough mindedness without which he and the Civil Rights movement would have failed.

For those of us who care about climate, and equality, in a world as it Should Be, make no mistake: we are entering what seems to be a very dark period. Many of us are still processing and thinking through how to appropriately respond to our new political context. We may feel that we have been dragged backwards, at a time when we need to move forward by leaps and bounds. We need to be as wise as serpents, indeed.

At BlocPower, our core strategy depends on a certain amount of tough mindedness while incorporating a certain amount of tenderheartedness. We are bringing clean energy and energy efficient technologies to buildings in some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City, and in the process creating jobs, economic development, and paving the way for a national transition to renewable energy.

We believe that the green energy industry has the potential to lift historically disenfranchised communities out of poverty, across the country, at massive historical scale.

We believe that the climate change movement in the United States has absolutely no hope of succeeding without substantively engaging low income communities and communities of color around economic impact.

We know that many of our clients have dangerously unhealthy buildings that need a lot of help, with high rates of risk for lead poisoning, and chronic asthma inducing internal air pollution in building residents.

On the other hand, to have a chance at succeeding, we must be toughminded. No matter how great their need, our clients have to have a track record of paying their electricity bills, revenue that will sustain the institution year over year, and a building that can benefit from our platform. Helping clients in our market is important, but we have to do so with a rigor that will facilitate long term sustainability.

Our hypothesis is that for folks who care about climate change, and who care about the inequalities of inner cities, that our mix of tough-mindedness and tender heartedness will allow BlocPower to serve as a bridge between the World as It Is, and the World as it Should Be.

We are launching a new online marketplace feature at BlocPower.io that will allow neighbors to donate or make no-interest loans to community buildings in financially underserved neighborhoods.

We’ve listed three of our projects in New York: a Methodist congregation in the Bronx that wants to lead a green revolution, an African Methodist Episcopal church in Manhattan that focuses on serving local low income seniors throughout the week, and a Unitarian church on Staten Island that used to be a site on the Underground Railroad. All three buildings have served their communities and functioned as houses of worship for several decades, and they want to go green to lower energy costs and reduce carbon emissions.

If you’d like to donate or make a loan, please do so. But we are also interested in toughminded feedback and critique, on what we can do to improve the BlocPower.io site, and make it better.

Near the end of his life, Dr. King organized and led a “Poor People’s Campaign”, a multiracial movement against poverty. BlocPower intends to green American cities, block by block, to lower costs, reduce carbon emissions, and hire thousands of members of financially underserved communities.

We think that BlocPower.io will be a major part of that. Let us know what you think.

We trust that you have had a reflective Martin Luther King Day, and are moving to take action in the challenging days ahead.

Best wishes,
Donnel

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