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.

About Bill Baue

Bill Baue is Co-Director of Sea Change Media, a non-profit that makes connections in the shift to social, environmental, and economic sustainability. He co-hosts/produces Sea Change Radio, a nationally syndicated show that podcasts globally.