A Crowdfunding Site Lets You Bring Energy Efficiency to Poor Neighborhoods

Everyone knows that energy-retrofitting old buildings often makes economic sense. What a lot of people don’t know is how to do it. While retrofits lead to savings on electric and heating bills, you still need to find upfront capital to pay for all the improvements.

The issue is particularly acute for churches and community centers in low-income areas. They frequently have massively inefficient buildings and outsized energy bills, but no way of paying for upgrades. Banks generally aren’t interested in charities with little dependable income.

That’s why Donnel Baird and his team have put together BlocPower, a social business that gathers together inefficient buildings into more attractive packages. It then finds the money from impact investors who get a decent return, though not a spectacular one.

Read the full article by Ben Schiller in Fast Company here.

Donnel Baird: White House Champion of Change

Donnel Baird is the founder and CEO of BlocPower, and early stage startup that markets, finances, and installs solar and energy efficiency retrofits in churches, synagogues, non-profits, and small businesses in financially underserved neighborhoods. BlocPower connects portfolios of these clean tech installation opportunities to impact investors via an online marketplace. Donnel is an Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation BMA Fellow and the first Entrepreneur in Residence at Jalia Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in for-profits with a social and environmental mission. Donnel spent 7 years as a community and political organizer. He is a recent graduate of Columbia Business School, where he was a Board of Overseers Fellow and a recipient of investment from the Lang Fund for Entrepreneurial Initiative.

Click here to see the post on the White House website.

Solar Industry Jump-Starts a Revival in California

Those include BrightCurrent, which helps funnel residential solar customers to installation companies; Standard Microgrid, which is bringing solar systems combined with storage to underserved communities in Africa; BlocPower, which aims to aggregate nonprofit, small business and property owners into groups to buy lower-cost solar and energy efficiency projects; and a company is called What Up that is working on financial services software that would make solar leases more readily available to customers with less-than-stellar credit.

Read the full article by Diane Cardwell in the New York Times here.

New Skills on the Block: Green Jobs for Young Black Men

Lack of job opportunities for young black men is a serious problem. But so is an inability for small businesses and nonprofits to find the money to retrofit and green their operations, along with the urgent need to slash CO2 emissions.

Donnel Baird’s fledgling New York City-based startup BlocPower aims to do something about all of those problems. “We’re targeting jobs, carbon emission reduction and financial returns,” he says. “It’s complex.”

See full article by Anne Field for Forbes.com here.

Green Push Reaches Barbershops and Bodegas

Mr. Nuru turned to BlocPower, a nonprofit group that performed a “green audit” on his 17-year-old barbershop.  As a result of the inspection, he was convinced to replace the lights in his shop with more efficient, longer-lasting options.

The audit estimated that a one-time lighting investment of between $3,000 and $5,000 would save the barber between $450 and $2,000 a year on his energy bills, said Decker Ngongang, a program manager at Echoing Green…


Read the full article by Richard Morgan published in the Wall Street Journal here.