Innovative Startup Review Of The Week: Carbon Lighthouse

A Lighthouse. Image Source:

Given what we have all been told about climate change, carbon emissions are a worry for many of us. The good news is that there are companies and young startups willing to do something about it. Enter Carbon Lighthouse amidst the doom and gloom and you will read about a young and creative project willing to do something about carbon emissions. Carbon Lighthouse offers a sliver of hope for climate change. It has developed a process that enables buildings to become profitable by achieving a carbon neutral status. The organisation finds energy reductions to lower energy costs and save companies money. The more energy reductions they are able to identify, clearly the greater the impact that they are able to have.

Carbon Lighthouse is the brainchild of Brenden Millstein and Raphael Rosen. The company was founded in 2010 and it has a mission to serve the environment, with the mind set that global energy usage needs to shrink to zero emissions immediately. The organisation works with companies to help them to play their part in this. There are three stages in the work that they do. The first is to identify the financial criteria that makes sense for the company’s properties, and then they find opportunities that can help to meet these criteria, looking at the energy systems in place and identifying possible projects. Next the data is interpreted, and the organisation processes all of the building data to create a single proposal for a project that will surpass the financial threshold. They claim that they can achieve positive cash returns in the first year. Thirdly the organisation implements what it says it will, leaving a final result of a carbon neutral building with improved performance.

The following video explains how carbon lighthouse works:

Echoing Green, a global non-profit organization that supports social entrepreneurship projects, has written about Carbon Lighthouse, mentioning how the company has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas pollution within the decade. The approach taken includes retrofitting buildings to cut back on energy consumption, and also raising awareness that this is something that everyone should be concerned with. Importantly, Echoing Green interviewed Brenden one of the co-founders who explained that no one is being asked to change either their lifestyle or what they are doing. He said:

“If we’ve done our job correctly no-one even knows we’ve been in the building, except that the energy bills are 20 percent lower”.

The company does have some uphill challenges to face. As Echoing Green suggests, getting large companies to sit up and take note of the Carbon Lighthouse idea is difficult when the company is a young start-up. Additionally getting the right people on board can be challenging, as a start-up. However, the company has been able to attract what it describes as a “bright, hard-working fun engineering team”, with everyone on the team offering energy and optimism. Headway is certainly being made in terms of attracting clients as well. Projects have been undertaken at many organisations, just some of which include the San Francisco Ballet, the YMCA of Superior California, the Osher Marin Jewish Community Centre and the Oakland Hebrew Day School, among many others.

Case Study: San Francisco Ballet Association

When analyzing one example, one can understand better how Carbon Lighthouse works. Carbon Lighthouse intervened at the San Francisco Ballet Association, performing their work across four stories and 56,640 square feet of campus. It included buildings that are used for a ballet academy, professional rehearsal studios and administrative offices. The company reviewed the building and made changes to lighting controls and an implementation of a new energy supervisory control system. In doing this the project was able to deliver annual savings of $0.20 per square foot to the organisation while continuing to meet the needs of the professional and student performers. This was achieved using utility financing meaning that there were no upfront costs, and cash flow improvements could be noticed immediately. The results were 2775 tons of carbon dioxide reductions, a building that is 100% carbon neutral, and $230,500 in lifetime utility savings. These are results not to be shrugged off, and the environmental benefits that they bring certainly make them worthwhile, aside from the financial benefits.

Carbon Lighthouse is changing the impact of buildings on the environment, one building at a time. By creating energy efficiency for organisations it has the opportunity to make a big difference, as well as improving profitability for organisations. It is hard to see how such an inspiring company that seeks to do so much good could not be successful in achieving its aims.