Vancouver-based BuildDirect, an online marketplace for home improvement products, has announced that it is launching Clean Energy within its Home Marketplace. Its objective? Making it easier and cost-effective for mainstream consumers to make renewable electricity part of their home infrastructure, whether on or off the grid.
This division is currently focused on offering solar energy products and energy storage solutions.
“BuildDirect enables solar suppliers to efficiently move heavyweight solar products outside of their traditional markets in an entirely new way that saves them time, money, and resources. Solar suppliers can choose to ship to warehouses or directly to consumers. Additionally, BuildDirect opens up a new channel for suppliers to reach homeowners across North America, particularly those who live in geographic areas where a strong solar presence has yet to be established.”
“We are at a tipping point as residential solar energy goes mainstream, with California leading the way declaring that all new homes must be net zero by 2020,” said BuildDirect co-founder and executive officer Rob Banks in a press announcement. “Millions of consumers want to move to solar because it is an endlessly renewable resource that yields zero emissions and reduces power bills. And BuildDirect has a unique opportunity to eliminate inefficiencies and confusion in this growing space by helping connect homeowners with suppliers.”
According to BuildDirect, the shift to clean energy has lagged because the market has been difficult to navigate. Suppliers have challenges getting to market and consumers are unclear where to turn for answers to their solar energy questions or how to go about purchasing products once they decide what they want or need. Now this marketplace has transformed.
In addition to connecting consumers with a range of products, BuildDirect indicates it targets to making the process of going solar simple, by informing homeowners about all of their options. The online platform also offers an education hub demonstrating how solar energy works and how it can increase a home’s value while dropping utility bills.
Expense has historically been a major hurdle to mainstream residential solar adoption. While the hard costs of solar equipment have dropped dramatically over the past 10 years, substantial soft costs associated with things like labor and supply chain inefficiency remain. These soft costs continue to make solar unattainable for many consumers. This is where BuildDirect contends it will make an enormous impact:
Its supply chain is specifically designed to efficiently deliver heavyweight goods, such as solar batteries, from the point of manufacture, directly to consumer’s homes. This can potentially shave thousands of dollars and several weeks off of an installation project.
The company formed an advisory board that includes Greg Bohl, former president and CEO of Solar Logic, and Ramez Naam, computer scientist, author, cleantech angel investor, and co-chair of the Energy and Environment program at Singularity University at NASA Ames.
“There have been tremendous advances with solar energy, but most homeowners have no way to get it,” noted Naam. “With BuildDirect’s Home Marketplace, suppliers gain access to new markets and homeowners have a wealth of information and solar energy products at their fingertips to help make solar a very practical and affordable solution for their lives.”
This announcement appears to be congruent with the rapid growth o the solar industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, the decline in solar pricing in the US is boosting the growth cycle for this renewable energy. “The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% over the last 10 years, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide.”
SEIA concludes it expects the US solar industry alone to install 13.9 GW of capacity by the end of 2016 — nearly double the amount installed in a record-breaking 2015. “Through the end of this decade, there will be robust growth across all three market segments, eventually reaching a 20 GW annual solar market.”
According to BuildDirect’s press announcement, “…its heavyweight supply chain connects the US, giving solar suppliers the opportunity to break through the geographic limitations of their existing distribution networks. Now, a solar supplier on the East coast can easily connect with potential customers on the West Coast and everywhere in between. Direct market access offers the added benefit of testing new solar products and innovations with a concentrated group of customers.”
BuildDirect has operated as an online marketplace for home improvement products. The company has transformed how homeowners access and purchase home improvement products by building an online marketplace that offers a wide selection of products at the best value, direct-to-home shipping, free virtual design tools and best-in-class customer service. Suppliers are able to leverage the Home Marketplace to showcase and sell their home improvement products directly to consumers, creating a simple and trusted online shopping experience.
Images via BuildDirect, Shutterstock, SEIA