For Seasoned Veterans, Lessons We’ve Learned

Episode 2 – How Failed Green Jobs and Energy Poverty Shaped This Founder

Shared from Uplight:

Welcome to our second season! Over the next eight episodes, we’ll hear from people who’ve scaled new clean energy technologies, built market-changing companies from scratch, and managed big firms in the face of competitive threats.

Show Notes:

In this episode, an entrepreneur who’s applying community organizing tactics and data crunching to clean energy in inner cities: Donnel Baird

Donnel is the CEO and Founder of Blocpower, a startup based in Brooklyn, New York. 

Blocpower helps inner-city buildings lease heat pumps, install new lighting systems, or invest in solar. And it has a piece of software to help microtarget the right buildings and make installations faster.

Donnel grew up in a small apartment in Brooklyn, where he experienced energy poverty and was forced to think about how the environment directly impacts quality of life.

“I think when you’re poor you have to be aware of your environment and the kinds of adverse health impacts that can be caused by your environment. That’s part of surviving as a poor person in America or any country. And I think that in my family we were, we were definitely super attuned to that,” explains Donnel.

Later, he played a role in the green jobs push within the Obama Administration. It opened his eyes to the limitations of the green building sector.

“The green buildings and energy efficiency industry is fundamentally broken. It has sales problems, it has mechanical engineering and energy efficiency audit problems. It has a huge financing problem, it has a construction and installation problem. It has an M&V problem, and if you pour $7 billion into that failed industry and hyper fragmented industry, we didn’t get the results that we would’ve hoped,” he says.

In this episode, we tell Donnel’s story of frustration, confusion and inspiration that led him to become a founder.



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