Carbon Lighthouse Nerds Out on Clean Energy with Bloomberg and SF Business Times

Carbon Lighthouse Nerds Out on Clean Energy with Bloomberg and SF Business Times
Lily Backer

If there’s one thing we at Carbon Lighthouse enjoy more than working on clean energy, it’s nerding out about it. Typically, this happens at our offices during lunchtime, but every once in a while it’s good to share the love externally.

That’s why, recently on two separate occasions, we invited reporters from top-tier regional and national media — San Francisco Business Times and Bloomberg — to come into our San Francisco headquarters and do just that.

San Francisco Business Times learns how big oil inspires clean energy.

During the first session, Rachel Sandler, a writer working on a profile of Carbon Lighthouse for the San Francisco Business Times, sat down with our co-founder and CEO, Brenden Millstein, to better understand who we are and how we’re disrupting the commercial real estate industry by turning energy waste into guaranteed ongoing revenue.

While a self-avowed environmentalist, Brenden revealed his admittedly ironic approach to stopping climate change: Act like an oil company, or more specifically, the Standard Oil Company.

He argued that Rockefeller changed the energy business, and a similar ethos is needed to save the planet today:

“The basic premise of the company is that we need to do work that is very profitable for clients and profitable for us as well because otherwise there is no way to scale large enough and quickly enough to actually stop climate change.”

As Brenden explained how Carbon Lighthouse makes money — by charging a monthly fee in return for guaranteeing that building owners will save on their energy bills — he highlighted an important point: as buildings reduce carbon emissions, everyone profits from our Efficiency Production approach.

“Our mission is to stop climate change, but our clients don’t have to care at all. From their perspective, the transaction is very simple. We give them money,” he said.

While the clean energy and efficiency market is crowded, it’s dominated by companies that sell or install new building equipment or retrofits. Instead, we make small adjustments to existing heating, water, and air systems, and hold ourselves accountable by including in the contract how much money building owners can expect to save.

“They do the evaluation for free, and when you look at what they’re offering, how can you not take it?” said Sheila Marko, general manager of the Flood Building.

Carbon Lighthouse guarantees an ongoing, long-term revenue stream that building owners can cap to realize exponential value. For example, saving $0.40 – $0.60/sq ft can yield $50 to $100M in new value across a large real estate portfolio.

Driving this financial upside starts with just 40 or 50 small, out of sight sensors placed throughout a building. As the sensors collect data for a month or so, our CLUES® software analyzes the data allowing our engineers to make one-time changes and ongoing adjustments, such as temperature, fan or water pump speed.

“It’s not enough just to make it profitable for them to act. You have to make it easy,” Millstein said.

A clean energy nerdfest for the ages with Bloomberg.

During the second session, Bloomberg reporter David Baker — most recently with the San Francisco Chronicle — came in to chat with Brenden about our $65 million project finance fund with Generate Capital.

Brenden explained Efficiency Production to David: “You can think of this like getting your car tuned up, but automatically and in real time.”

He then discussed how this third and largest project finance fund with Generate will allow us to extend our existing clean energy and efficiency services at no out-of-pocket cost to hundreds more building owners across the country — and turn energy waste into guaranteed revenue.

With buildings contributing almost 40% of U.S. emissions, a key feature of our service is allowing building owners to view climate action as a financial product — with ongoing revenue guaranteeing a substantial financial upside while cutting carbon emissions.

Having covered clean energy for more than a decade, David was able to go toe-to-toe with Brenden on topics from energy storage to smart grids. Indeed, one might say it was a clean energy nerdfest for the ages.

Later, we gave David a tour of our San Francisco office and showed him the alarmingly large collection of wireless sensors we use to collect more data than anyone else, tap into valuable energy waste and turn it into guaranteed revenue for our clients.

We’re glad we could put some of our clean energy geekiness out into the world via some excellent media coverage. We hope you enjoy reading it!

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