Energy Efficiency Careers And Entrepreneurship Opportunities

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I would argue that energy efficiency is hands-down the biggest opportunity in our energy ecosystem. There’s a whole lot of business opportunity in clean energy generation and storage, no matter what, but energy efficiency can eliminate a large slice of the fossil fuel/climate change pie with much less rigamarole (permitting, land use issues, large budgets, etc.), and creates its own business opportunity.

The best way to envision how energy efficiency fits into the big picture, for me, is to think about it as if it was someone trying to lose weight. Switching from a giant pile of french fries to air-fried sweet potato fries, from burgers to veggie burgers, and from milkshakes to green smoothies are all good steps. But what if, instead of going from fries to sweet potato fries, the person went from fries to … smaller portions? What if they are still 100% satisfied with their food intake and their caloric needs? Then, as their gut bacteria/biome adjusts to healthier food, it’ll start to send signals to the brain that healthy food is, in fact, what the body wants. The end result is that the person eats healthy food in right-sized portions, and voila, the person feels and looks great. The equivalent, in terms of energy, is that we use a right-sized portion of energy, all of it from clean sources, and our society feels and looks great.

That’s energy efficiency in a nutshell — it simply trims the spare tire eliminates fossil fuel use.

How effective can energy efficiency be? The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy published a report finding that energy efficiency can cut 50% of our pollution while saving $700 billion for the American economy by 2050. 

But the industry needs a substantial boost in terms of people working in it. With that in mind, here’s some opportunities you can share with anyone who is stressed AF about climate change and wants to make their mark in preventing it, while also making a living.

Great companies hiring:

  1. Carbon Lighthouse — building energy efficiency work with an incredibly creative model that breaks the renter/landlord challenge for responsibility over the electric bill. Current openings here.
  2. Voltus — a company that helps reduce peak demand through demand response (a different type of energy efficiency). Current openings here.
  3. Ameresco — a company that focuses on efficiency first, then generation, microgrids, etc., exactly as it should be — first work on portion size, then switch to healthy food. Current openings here.

There are, of course, many more good companies in this space. A simple google of energy efficiency careers will yield plenty. (I deliberately left off some larger efficiency companies like Johnson Controls and Honeywell that made political contributions to climate denialists like James Inhofe and Donald Drumpf.)

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Ownership Opportunities

People can start their own energy efficiency service. Getting knowledgable and/or certified in ResNet, ASHRAE and/or other energy auditing processes are good for those who want to start a heavy lift company, or to do insulation retrofits and the like. That’s an option. People can also start a light audit and/or retrofitting service, and a study out of the University of Central Florida years ago indicated that this is hands-down the best approach — a foot in the door that gets some light touch things done quickly, warms the person up to the idea of larger upgrades, and, very importantly, can improve clean energy equity by including hard-to-reach/economically challenged communities. And there’s LOTS of money flowing into that space, according to ACEEE, in terms of charity, grants, and federal incentives. This approach needs little overhead — which was the death knell of early energy efficiency pioneers in the residential space like Next Step Living — due to the lack of larger auditing equipment and hazardous materials (e.g., spray foam insulation), and thereby the need for heavy vehicles, haz-mat materials and training, etc.

This light retrofit space is the space I work in, and I’ll present two opportunities for ownership in energy efficiency that my company currently has below: provides an innovative white label energy efficiency startup option that requires little to no capital, and provides training and tools. We have created an option for people to do this type of work and get training with us and do it for zero cost, plus an option to perform the work without having to buy anything larger than a hand tool and without having to carry any inventory. We have larger options, too, of course. Learn more here.

You can also look for opportunities with existing companies. If you have ever wanted to live and work in paradise while saving the planet by shifting a ton of dirty energy into clean, I am looking for a business partner/investor for Pono Home, my Honolulu-based company that has serviced over 16,000 homes across the Hawaiian islands and saved customers more than $3.5M a year on utility bills, money that would otherwise be going to fossil companies. Contact me directly to inquire about this:

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Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

Scott Cooney has 150 posts and counting. See all posts by Scott Cooney