By George Harvey
Last spring, North Lennox was working on starting a business in Brooklyn, New York, with a goal of fostering the transition to sustainable homes. These, he reasoned, would ultimately be net-zero energy consumers.
There was a slight modification in his plans when he became aware of a contest being run by Green Mountain Power (GMP), the largest utility in Vermont. GMP announced that it was opening up part of its open concept workspace in Colchester to energy innovators. Five energy pioneers would be chosen as contest winners. They would be given space to use, in what GMP calls their “InSpire Space,” in close proximity to each other and the staff at GMP, as they developed their businesses. This means that open collaborations among the winning innovators and with GMP could develop easily.
Lennox entered the contest, providing a business plan, and was chosen one of the winners. As a result, he and his business moved to Vermont, where he has set up shop on July 15, 2016.
Lennox’s business, Greenbanc, provides a service for homeowners based on the Home Energy Score (HES), a metric developed by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The HES is intentionally much simpler than other rating systems, such as the Home Energy Rating System. Though the model producing the HES must be run by trained assessors, it does have the advantage of requiring less time than other tools, making it fairly inexpensive. It has other advantages beyond that, however, because it provides recommendations on how to improve efficiency and energy consumption.
The first part of Lennox’ plan was to provide trained assessors to examine the characteristics of buildings, determine the data to be entered into the model, and produce scores. That is fairly straightforward, because the system is entirely standardized. It not only provides a score for a home’s efficiency, but it identifies the actions that will be the most effective ways to improve the score.
The second part of the plan is a marketplace platform called “Greenjobs,” which connects homeowners to qualified contractors, Greenbanc’s working partners who specialize in the various kinds of work. This means homeowners can get competitive quotes for the most important and effective actions that the HES identified.
The combination of these two things means that Greenbanc customers can get inexpensive assessments that lead to the most effective work being done to make their homes energy efficient at the lowest cost. This means that paying down the cost of the work done can be done in the shortest time possible.
The cost advantage offered by Greenbanc can also be understood by comparing it to the alternatives. The paths to reducing energy consumption are often daunting, not only because of the expense, but because they are complicated and may be done by different people whose work is not directly comparable. Though a comprehensive audit may provide more information, it takes long, costs more, and the information has to be understood to be acted upon. The result is often overwhelming to the homeowner. Greenbanc simplifies this.
The latest news from Greenbanc is very exciting. Having already become the leading provider of Home Energy Scores in Vermont, Greenbanc has become Vermont’s newest certified B Corp. This means it is certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of transparency, accountability, and social and environmental performance. With this, Greenbanc joins Green Mountain Power, the first utility to be certified as a B Corp, which hosts it in the Inspire Space, as is the newest of Vermont’s 30 B Corps.