Bright Power, Inc. provides energy management services ranging from energy benchmarking, auditing and energy procurement, to turnkey resiliency solutions and energy saving building improvements. Founded in 2004, this intelligence-driven firm serves building owners and managers throughout the U.S. from its headquarters in New York City, and a second office in Oakland, California. Putting a tangible solution to climate change is the mission that propels Bright Power forward and has landed it on the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies in 2018 for the third time.
Business View Magazine recently had a candid discussion with Jeffrey Perlman, Founder and President of Bright Power, who has turned his expertise and passion for environmental preservation into a thriving business that is changing cityscapes and doing its part to save the planet. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
BVM: How do you evaluate energy usage in a building?
Perlman: “Our customers often own several buildings, and when we asked why they chose a certain one for us to work on, it was either they’d just bought it, or wanted to sell it, or it was the building they were spending the most money on. They had little framework for evaluating and understanding energy and water usage. So, in 2010, we released EnergyScoreCards, Bright Power’s proprietary software as a service (SaaS) product that takes in utility bill and building information and compares it to a larger dataset of buildings. Today, we have over 35,000 buildings in that database, so we can see whether an apartment building is a good or poor performer in comparison. There are also sub-categories for areas like heating and cooling, water heating, and lighting. It’s a great energy performance evaluation tool. We also provide a dedicated Energy Analyst with each subscriber to help them to understand the data and turn it into actionable next steps.
“The best way to describe the services of our company is that we Find areas of waste and opportunity, Fix buildings to operate more efficiency, and Follow the data to ensure each project is meeting investment goals. The Find phase involves engaging with a portfolio – gathering all the building information plus utility bills and energy usage; analyzing it; and prioritizing the focus on the buildings with the best opportunities. The Fix phase starts with sending engineers into the building to evaluate specific systems. Then we put a scope of work together, iterate that with the owner, look at what incentives are available, and finalize what to do. Then we implement it. Follow is the final step. It can be as light a touch as the EnergyScoreCards platform, which is analysis based on monthly utility bills to provide guidance on performance and whether we should intervene to improve it. That’s the most basic level. Then we have MoBIUS, our ongoing and continuous energy and water management service, where we watch the building in real time and generate alerts based on sensor and meter data. It enables us to react much more quickly to any changes, so operations run smoothly, tenants are comfortable, and headaches are kept to a minimum.”
Jamil Ellis, Bright Power’s CTO, adds, “Our technology team built the original EnergyScoreCards and MoBIUS software, and we continue to build new features and maintain those we have. We are always pushing the boundaries in technology for buildings, and that type of work is done in-house.”
BVM: What sets Bright Power apart from competitors?
Perlman: “There are some similar software solutions to ours, but they don’t actually engineer or deliver any of the improvements indicated by the data. There are also engineering firms focused on energy efficiency that will do an energy study and give recommendations, but many don’t implement the work. We do the whole package. That’s a real differentiator and a breath of fresh air for our clients. We give a turnkey approach, where we give recommendations, a real cost, and we implement the project.
“We also work with developers on new apartment buildings. In those situations, we’re part of the design team. There’s an architect, an engineer, a developer, and we play the sustainability role. Managing green certifications like LEED, Passive House, and ENERGY STAR is a component of what we do on the team. We also work to incorporate renewables into the design, for example, the amount of shade impacts where you can put the solar panels. That design team role has become a growing part of our business with all the new construction in New York City. And we can provide particular value to the new construction teams because of our experience diagnosing and fixing the problems with existing buildings – we can help them avoid the mistakes we’ve seen others make.”
BVM: What is the future goal for Bright Power?
Perlman: “We’ve been growing quite rapidly. The big challenge is making sure we have good structures in place to deliver the quality of work that people have come to expect from us as we continue to scale, and that we can support more managers, engineers, and staff. There are a lot of promising trends in the marketplace; solar prices have come down in many states and the economics look good. I’m really excited that the word is getting out there that energy usage impacts the financial performance, and therefore the value, of real estate. Government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now have green retrofit programs that provide better terms on mortgages for properties that are making energy efficiency improvements at the time of refinancing.
“Our goal is to make it easier for companies that own and manage real estate to have buildings that are energy and water efficient and comfortable, using clean energy and as little water as possible. We’re always looking for ways to incorporate creative financing for energy upgrades and unify our analysis, engineering, and construction services, so our customers can engage more easily and get even more value from our Bright Power services.”
Congratulations to This Year’s Honorees and Nominees
We are proud to work with all of the honorees this year, including:
We are also incredibly proud that Bright Power has been involved in so many impactful affordable housing projects. We wish all of our clients and partners nominated for the Community Impact Competition the best of luck. You can read a bit about each of those projects below.
1561 Walton Avenue: Settlement Housing Fund & Briarwood Organization / Edelman Sultan Knox Wood/Architects LLP
Bright Power provided new construction services including Enterprise Green Communities certification and NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) partner services.
Acacia Gardens: Acacia Network / Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC
Bright Power is designing and installing the ~105 kW solar PV array.
Crotona Senior Housing: HELP USA with SAGE / Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC
We consulted with HELP USA starting with their tax credit funding application and are providing energy efficiency, green building, and mechanical system commissioning services including NYSERDA New Construction Program and Enterprise Green Communities consulting. We designed and will install a 90.72 kW solar PV array atop a trellis-pergola steel framing system. You can read more about the project here.
Gateway Elton Phase III: Hudson Companies / Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC
Bright Power is designing and installing the 268 kW solar PV array atop a structural steel framing system.
The Goldin at Essex Crossing: Delancey Street Associates – a joint venture of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners, Taconic Investment Partners / Dattner Architects
Bright Power is providing LEED Neighborhood Development and Enterprise Green Communities certification services across all sites of the Essex Crossing development, in addition to securing NYSERDA incentives. We also designed and installed 31 kW of solar PV on The Goldin at Essex Crossing.
Melrose Commons: The Bridge / Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC
Bright Power provided NYSERDA MPP NC partner services and Enterprise Green Communities certification consulting.
Mill Brook Terrace: West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing / Perkins Eastman
We are providing Enterprise Green Communities consulting, NYSERDA NCP partner services, and commissioning. Bright Power providing the feasibility studies and design for a solar PV array.
One Flushing: Monadnock Development, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC) / Bernheimer Architecture
We designed and are in the process of installing a 116.1 kW solar PV system.
Reaching New Heights Residence and Apartments at Landing Road: BRC (Bowery Residents’ Committee)
Bright Power designed and installed the 144 kW solar PV system, provided NYSERDA MPP partner services, and Enterprise Green Community Certification Services. You can read more about the project here.
St. Augustine: Association of New York Catholic Homes / Magnusson Architecture and Planning PC
We are providing solar design and installation for the 48 kW solar PV array, commissioning, NYSERDA MPP NC partner services, and LEED certification consulting.
Stanley Commons: The Kretchmer Companies (KB Companies) / Dattner Architects
We provided NYSERDA MPP NC partner services and Enterprise Green Communities consulting.
NYECC Announces 2018 Energy New York Award Recipients for Vision, Innovation and Leadership in Energy
“Dan Levin [pictured top, second from left], Executive Vice-President of the NYECC and Vice President, Energy Markets at Bright Power, received a leadership award for his leadership at the NYECC, spanning over 10 years, including positions as Co-President for 7 years and in leading many committees, contributing to the success of the organization and its impact on energy issues.”
According to Andy McNamara, Bright Power’s VP Western Region, “We’re hoping to uncover additional improvements for even more savings as ongoing utility usage is tracked and analyzed.”
Batteries Cut Energy Costs, Provide Backup During Blackouts, Habitat Magazine, October 17, 2018.
Innovative Development Team Awarded Rights To Build Shared Solar On 73 Affordable Housing Buildings Across NYC
Solstice, Sol Purpose, Bright Power, and Green City Force announced today a partnership to build, subscribe, and operate a portfolio of community solar installations on New York City Housing Authority properties throughout the five boroughs. The projects will serve low-to-moderate income (LMI) households with a focus on residents of NYCHA properties, and are a part of NYCHA’s ACCESSolar program, which stands for “ACcelerating Community Empowered Shared Solar.” More information on ACCESSolar can be found here.
Developed on 73 roofs across 9 NYCHA developments, the projects will together account for up to two megawatts of additional clean energy production, enough to power approximately 350 underserved households.
The community solar projects will enable NYCHA residents and other LMI households in all five boroughs to enroll in solar farms and save between 10%-15% on their monthly electricity bills as compared to standard Con Edison rates.
Sol Purpose will develop and provide financing for the projects, Bright Power will design and install the solar arrays, and Solstice will manage community outreach, subscriber qualification, and enrollment. AmeriCorps green jobs training program Green City Force will lead workforce development efforts in the NYCHA community.
“This partnership helps ensure that NYCHA residents can both participate in the green jobs economy and have access to low-cost solar power,” said NYCHA Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships Sideya Sherman. “We thank Sol Purpose, Solstice, Bright Power, and Green City Force for keeping public housing residents at the heart of their green energy opportunities.”
In addition to the savings that they will bring to project participants, the installations will provide renewable energy to the surrounding area and employment opportunities for NYCHA residents. Adding to the project’s overall local impact, developer Sol Purpose will dedicate proceeds from the project to directly fund public benefit programs for LMI and other underserved communities in New York City. Green City Force will work with the NYCHA community to hire and train public housing tenants to support the project, with a goal to create up to 12 full-time jobs as a result of the project. These residents will work with Bright Power to build the arrays, and also join the Solstice team to facilitate community outreach and enrollment.
Set to begin construction in 2019, the installations are part of NYCHA’s plan to install 25 MW of solar on its affordable housing sites by 2025 and will contribute to New York State’s goal of getting 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
“This project team is honored to have been selected to provide another two megawatts worth of community solar to NYCHA residents,” said Solstice Co-Founder and CEO Steph Speirs. “These projects are an unparalleled opportunity to bring affordable, inclusive clean energy to New Yorkers, and we’re excited to work with the NYCHA community to make them happen.”
Solstice is dedicated to bringing affordable solar power to the 80% of Americans who cannot install a rooftop system. Solstice offers turnkey customer solutions for the shared solar industry, enrolling households and community organizations, creating financing innovations that expand access to underserved Americans, and providing a frictionless subscriber management software platform for community solar projects. To learn more, please visit solstice.us.
About Sol Purpose
Sol Purpose Development Company is an innovative solar development company with a mission to further renewable energy development that serves the broader public interest. That means our company pursues projects that incorporates community solar programs for low-to-moderate-income (LMI) households, achieves local workforce development goals, and uses project proceeds to fund innovative social programs that benefit local communities. To learn more about our unique model for impact development, please visit our site at www.solpurpose.co or contact Matt Russotti at (917) 930-6220.
About Green City Force
Green City Force is an AmeriCorps nonprofit that engages young adults from NYCHA communities in national service related to the environment. In doing so, they prepare them for sustainable careers, while serving to make low-income communities more sustainable and healthier, creating the green city they want to see. To learn more, please visit greencityforce.org.
About Bright Power
Bright Power provides strategic energy solutions to building owners and operators across the nation. Specializing in multifamily apartment buildings, Bright Power’s suite of services saves clients’ energy, money and time. Bright Power’s energy management solutions include EnergyScoreCards benchmarking software, energy audits, energy procurement, onsite generation, green building design services, turnkey installation of energy improvements, and ongoing energy management. For more information, please visit www.brightpower.com.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Almost 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments around the five boroughs, and another 202,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha, and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCHAand www.twitter.com/NYCHA.
State awards contracts for new energy-efficient retrofit solutions, Real Estate Weekly, September 28, 2018.
Turning Data Into Action, Habitat Magazine, September 2018.
By Frank Lovece, Habitat Magazine
The Building Energy Exchange, in collaboration with Bright Power and Sustainable Energy Partnerships, has published a report called Turning Data Into Action. These folks analyzed nearly 16,000 datasets from Local Law 84 (Benchmarking) and Local Law 87 (Energy Audit Law), using Python programming to analyze the submissions that New York City buildings have been filing.
And then they turned all this data into easy-to-read, color-coded tearsheets containing energy upgrade opportunities matched to key points in a building’s financial life-cycle. Each sheet lists retrofit measures to consider, ranging from capital-intensive measures best implemented when a building is refinancing, to low-cost measures that can be funded out of operating expenses, and to those in between. “This is by no means meant to replace a comprehensive energy audit or feasibility study,” says Dave Sachs, a technical expert at Bright Power, “it’s meant for folks who don’t have the budget for that to identify their particular building type and see what opportunities exist.”
This Bronx Pilot Project Is Not Science Fiction, Habitat Magazine, September 26, 2018.
By Marianne Schaefer, Habitat Magazine
“There will be solar panels on the roof,” says Marion Ligneau, an energy-efficiency expert with Bright Power, which was awarded $75,000 for the design phase work by RetrofitNY. “We’ll inject blown insulation into the cock-loft (the space between top-floor ceilings and the roof membrane). We’ll add about six inches of insulation outside the exterior brick walls, install a new heating system, double- or triple-pane windows, as well as LED lighting, motion sensors in common areas, and energy-efficient appliances and fixtures.”
With a boost from such technology, the Bronx pilot project might indeed be replicable throughout the entire housing industry. And that’s good news for co-ops and condos.
NYCHA Accounces Partners to Design Rooftop Solar Gardens for Communities Citywide, NYCHA, September 25, 2018.
“The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced today that it is partnering with five teams led by local non-profits and small businesses that will each design and propose rooftop solar gardens that will increase New Yorkers’ access to sources of low-cost solar power.
“Kinetic Communities Consulting, Solar One, Fifth Avenue Committee, Sol Purpose, and BlocPower will design proposals for up to 6 megawatts of solar capacity generated on 189 rooftops across 28 developments as part of NYCHA’s ACCESSolar program, which stands for ‘ACcelerating Community Empowered Shared Solar.'”
Bright Power is a part of Sol Purpose’s team, including Green City Force, and Solstice. Bright Power will will provide design and construction for up to 2 megawatts of solar power at 73 buildings in 9 developments.