A Hybrid Model: Co-op and Nonprofits Launch Energy Efficiency Company

Sea Change Radio Radio Co-Hosts Bill Baue and Kelsey Flynn talk to Tom Rossmassler, CEO of Energia, an innovative new energy efficiency company founded by two nonprofits — Nuestras Raices and Nueva Esparanza – and Co-op Power, a consumer cooperative.  And Kelsey profiles the Roots Up Green Jobs program, run by Nuestras Raices and Co-op Power, which will train workers for Energia.

Caulk and insulation — Bill hadn’t quite realized what a key role these play in helping solve the climate crisis until he edited a report for Ceres late last year on energy efficiency and real estate investors.  At about the same time, he heard about Energia, a new energy efficiency company with a twist: it’s a for-profit, founded by two nonprofits and a consumer cooperative.  And it’s filling in the gap between big companies doing big energy efficiency projects, and smaller companies focusing on single-family homes.  In the middle are multi-family units and smaller businesses that are underserved in the current marketplace for energy efficiency retrofits.

Bill happens to know the new CEO, Tom Rossmassler, who was in his communications course last year at the Marlboro Sustainability MBA program in Vermont.  So he invited Tom to join him and Co-Host Kelsey Flynn for an interview at the WMUA studios in Amherst.  Tom described how Energia fits into the world of energy service companies (or ESCOs), which are most often associated with big outfits like Siemens, Honeywell, or Johnson Controls, which often enter into energy savings performance contracts with big institutions, companies, or municipalities.

Kelsey Flynn also recently profiled the Roots Up Green Jobs program from Nuestras Raices and Co-op Power that Tom mentioned in the interview on her Sustainable Valley segment on WRSI.  Roots Up is a program for low-income students just finishing their GED, who are paid to go to school to learn about energy conservation, energy efficiency, and how to install solar hot water systems.  As part of a larger Holyoke/Springfield grant, Pathways Out of Poverty, the program has received funds to expand the work to include youth from the Springfield area. The program particularly targets youth who have little education or work experience, and few options for getting onto a successful career ladder.

Yamil Brillos and Josh Vargas

Kelsey spoke with Co-op Power founder Lynn Benander, as well as Roots Up participants Yamil Brillos and Josh Vargas.

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13 Responses to “A Hybrid Model: Co-op and Nonprofits Launch Energy Efficiency Company”

  1. Cimbria says:

    Bill, Kelsey and Tom, great job. I wasn’t clear on ESCOs operate in states other than Massachusetts? It’s great you’re working with Pathways Out of Poverty, what a great resource! Good luck!

  2. Tom Rossmassler says:

    Esco’s most definitely operate all over the country. Thanks for listening.

  3. Tom –

    I didn’t have time to listen to the interview yet, but it sounds exciting. Congratulations.

    Can you do your work in Brattleboro, VT?


  4. Hello Tom Rossmassler, I work at the YMCA in Holyoke, IM 31 and want to learn how to make the world safe. I don’t work Full Time so I have some time to help and learn at the same time. I would like to learn how to build a solar hot water heater. Thanks Carlos R. Nunez Jr.

  5. I am glad to see this story here.

    I believe coops have something important to do in terms of creating local economies. This coop can also create local health. It is my hope that someone in public health can show a reduction in environmental illnesses, especially for children as Tom’s company leads new formats of energy use in practice through out Springfield.

    BTW, Cary Krosinsky is creating a data base of community banks and I would watch for this closely since I believe this idea can influence new banking patterns in products they offer local communities and will help to identify banks that assure their lending products and patterns will impact local communities for the environment and health. I have signed on to this initiative.

    My company is now forming into a non-monetary incubator and innovation center to build our portal for education WorkEcology.com and we have asked Cary to select our bank.


  6. The metrics that drive capital markets and the allocation of capital are fatally flawed with ownership the most important stakeholder. I argue that the customer, the community, the employees, the environment are way more important. The entity needs enough “money” to be able to transact its business (money as a medium of exchange) but its performance is about how much “value” is being created. This depends on productivity … a function of technology and of smart deployment of resources. Value is subjective and not particularly easy to quantify, but it is way better as a measure than simply amount of money. The prices on the stockmarket would be very different if corporate performance was based on value adding rather than money profit … and the view of the US economy and government finances would be different if key values on our society were quantified and put into national and government balance sheets!
    Peter Burgess
    Community Analytics

  7. Erik Hoffner says:

    Great show! Nice to hear the story of how the nonprofit and forprofit are working together to benefit all, triple bottom line wise. As a member of Coop Power, it makes me proud of our work to build a better world through renewable energy and efficiency. The Coop about to launch another small energy efficiency business, which will focus on homeowners. Stay tuned for that… http://cooppower.coop

    Orion Grassroots Network

  8. Great podcast and concept. Does Energia have a website yet? I cannot find one? Thanks, D

  9. Alex Wise says:

    I don’t think Energia has a site yet, David. I couldn’t find one either, at least! -Alex

  10. Cimbria says:

    http://www.energiaus.com contact Tom at TomRenergiaus.com.

  11. Cimbria says:

    TomR at EnergiaUS.com

  12. I have visited your posts before. The more I take in, the more I keep coming back! ;-)

  13. [...] as learn some new tricks. This was the perfect place for Nuestras Raices’ latest venture, Energia, to introduce itself to the [...]