February 13, 2018 Bright Power affordable housing, Bright Employee

Jamie Bemis Bright PowerWe’re proud of the intelligent, passionate, and hardworking people that make up the Bright Power team. Each month, you’ll get a chance to meet one of them, understand how they contribute to the organization, and what makes them excited to come to work every day.

Meet Jamie Bemis, Account Manager.

What are some of the things you like most about working at Bright Power?
I love the work we do here. It’s creative and challenging, and it’s closely aligned with my values. As an Account Manager with affordable and supportive housing clients in New York City, I get to wake up every day and feel like I am contributing to making the City a more resilient and sustainable place. Because I am passionate about mitigating the impacts of climate change, as well as social and environmental justice, it’s really gratifying to see our projects reduce utility burdens on low-income residents in NYC, and directly contribute to the city’s greenhouse gas reduction goal of 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Today, cities across the globe are taking the lead towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. I’m proud to say Bright Power is helping NYC to be a leader in this effort by ensuring all new buildings we work on are built to the highest standard of building performance and each existing building we touch becomes more energy and water efficient.

What are some projects and accomplishments you’re most proud of?
I am proud of all of our clients, many of whom do not have a background in energy efficiency and sustainability, but who nevertheless spearhead innovative projects that incorporate cutting-edge techniques around high-performance building design and on-site generation. For instance, St. Nick’s Alliance just won the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) RFP for Dekalb Commons in Brooklyn. Two of the buildings will be certified Passive House and will include rooftop solar PV systems. This will be St. Nick’s first Passive House project, demonstrating a willingness to try new things and push the envelope around high-performance building design. I find it particularly inspiring to see these types of projects in the affordable housing sector, where budgets are always tight. A few years ago, developers and city officials would have said that affordable housing couldn’t be designed with high-performance techniques due to the cost and the lack of expertise in the industry. Thankfully, this conversation has shifted dramatically in the past few years, and we’re seeing more and more developers, architects, and engineers who are excited about the opportunity to create innovative, beautiful, healthy, and sustainable residences for low-income New Yorkers. The Dekalb Commons project is a perfect example of this.I am also proud to work closely with Settlement Housing Fund, the Related Companies, Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), RiseBoro Community Partnership, Banana Kelly, Workforce Housing, B&B Urban, among others.

What’s something people might not know about you and your role at Bright Power?
A lot of people don’t know that I am a mechanical engineer. After college, I worked for an MEP firm designing HVAC systems for mission critical facilities like clean rooms and laboratories. Later, in graduate school, I conducted research for the Sustainable Design Lab in MIT’s Building Technology Department. I was the only city planning student in our research group. I loved translating our building-specific research techniques onto urban-scale problems, especially trying to address the immense challenge of creating more sustainable coastal cities. Now, my engineering background allows me to have informed conversations with clients as well as with Bright Power’s engineering team.

What’s the one service offering we have that you think is the most beneficial to clients and why?
I think our New Construction (NC) service is particularly beneficial. Capturing energy efficiency opportunities during a renovation or a new construction project is a huge opportunity that is too often missed. Investments in energy efficiency during the design phase pay dividends over the life of the building, in terms of reduced O&M costs, utility cost savings, and tenant comfort and well-being. The subject matter expertise our NC team brings is critical. From Passive House to Enterprise Green Communities and more, they understand the cutting edge of green design techniques—many of which are constantly evolving—and bring this to design teams. In this capacity, our clients can rely on us to provide strategic advice that incorporates cost-effectiveness, long-term impacts, indoor air quality, maintenance concerns, risk management, and more. Part of the reason we have so many returning clients is that once they see the value of this service, they return over and over again. It’s one of my favorite services to sell because for me it’s such a no-brainer for our clients.

We hear you’re going to Germany – what are you going to do there?
Yes! In March I will be traveling to Germany as a McCloy Fellow (a transatlantic professional exchange program sponsored by the American Council on Germany) to study innovations in the built environment and climate change mitigation efforts. My hope is to meet with individuals from across the industry to explore how cities are responding to the needs of a changing climate. To answer this question, I will look at three specific consequences of global warming: global migration and growing urban populations; the shift to green energy supply and distribution; and green building design. By exploring how these specific issues are being addressed in local communities across Germany, I will gain insight on best practices, lessons learned, and key strategies that can be implemented here in the United States. I used to live in Germany, so for me, this is both an opportunity to learn from the cutting edge of our profession, while also a return to my roots in some ways. And I am thrilled to be bringing new subject matter expertise to all of our clients at Bright Power so that we can continue to push the envelope here in New York and build residences that are fit for the 21st century. You can read more about my trip here