August 12th, 2012

Badass (and 100% Solar Powered) Building Tour Sunday August 19th in NYC.


My life is extremely random. Last year, I wrote about my interest in real estate, renewable energy and reducing a buildings utility costs by 75%, making it much more profitable. I’ve run the numbers and know it’s possible, it all really comes down to having the right client because the technology works.

RSVP for the Free Building Tour Here

Two months ago, I was walking by a weird looking in Brooklyn, see the above image. I noticed there was an array on the top of the roof, but that it wasn’t at the proper angle for a fixed tilt array in the latitude of NYC (it was around 20 degrees, a better angle is around 40 degrees). A hear a voice yell at me from across the street, “those are solar panels”. I looked down at him for a second, back up at the array and replied, “yes, I know. Why is the array so low?”. The man looked at me strangely, wondering why a young punk was questioning him about a system he likely designed and installed him on the street. He looked back up at the array and said “oh, height restrictions in NYC, the DOB won’t wouldn’t let us build any higher.” He came across the street, we talked for 30 minutes, and started working together.

The first thing I’m doing is creating a speaker series and monthly building door to show what’s possible in NYC with renewable energy and energy efficiency. The is two purposes of the event:

  1. I’ll be inviting speakers who are actively working on increasing the adoption of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and recycled materials in NYC. They will range from policy, to non-profits,
  2. The purpose of the building tour is very simple, to show that this technology works and frankly, it’s not hard. It you own a building in NYC, investing in using less energy is a riskless investment.
The building tour is targeted towards property owners, but anyone interested in the subject is free to attend. 

Again, you can RSVP here:

Here’s the full desciption of the event:

Learn the ins and outs of integrating renewable energy in buildings in NYC. Join us on Sunday August 19th for at 1pm for a 1 hour tour of “The Delta” in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

This is the 1st in what will become a free monthly speaker series in Brooklyn about green building, renewable energy, and energy efficiency in NYC. Each month, we’ll give a tour of the building and invite guests to speak about various topics related to green building.

This month we will be hosting

  1. Max Rubenstein from BIG!NYC who will be talking about using recycled building materials in NYC
  2. Max Joel from Solar One will discuss why solar power *hearts* NY and vice versa. Find out what it takes to get solar on your roof, what it does up there, and how government incentives for renewable energy work.

The Delta is 100% powered with solar and utilizes many renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that significantly decrease it’s energy use by more then 75% compared with the average building. The building has extensive use of

  • Solar PV
  • Solar thermal
  • Small wind
  • Air-source heat pumps
  • Recycled materials
  • Super efficient building envelope
  • Super efficient appliances.

The tour is free but has limited space, you MUST RSVP for the event. It’s open to the public and it is for NYC residentis that are interested in learning more and understanding what it possible in the city when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

We’ll tour the building, have a simple presnetation to illustrate how the technologies work and will have plenty of time to answer any and all of your questions. Please come with questions :)

What you’ll learn

  • The challenges and possibilities of renewable energy and energy efficiency in New York City
  • How The Delta produces so much renewable energy and uses such a small amount of energy
  • How renewable energy technologies work, and how they integrate into existing building
  • Which technology is most efficient and provides the best financial return
  • How to utilize recycled matierls the most efficinctly in NYC
  • How to manage the demolition process to send the least amount of garbage to the dump
  • How NYC and NY state is supporting renewable energy technologies

About the Delta: The Delta is the 1st building in NYC to be 100% powered by solar. The Delta has been featured and numerous publications and you can read more about it here:

About your host: Chris Williams

Chris Williams will be your host. He has designed and installed 300kW of solar PV and plenty of solar thermal and geothermal systems as well. He’s a consultant at Voltaic Solaire, the Cheif Marketing Office at HeatSpring, a leading national renewable energy training company and frequently writes and has been quoted in Renewable Energy WorldForbesClimate ProgressCleantechies, and Alternative Energy Stocks.

About the Super Special Speaker: Max Rubinstein

Deconstruction Manager, Max Rubinstein, from Build It Green!NYC will be speaking about incorporating reuse and recycling in your next home renovation project. Deconstruction is the selective and careful dismantling of buildings to maximize re-use and recycling rates. Build It Green!NYC’s Deconstruction Team can professionally dismantle anything from a kitchen to a whole house, uninstalling the items carefully and removing the items as a tax deductible donation.  Decon is also your best environmental, and often financial, alternative to the landfill!

About BIG!NYC: Build It Green!NYC, is New York City’s only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. Our warehouse has everything from panel doors to high end refrigerators and shutters to movie props. Our mission is to keep these materials out of the landfill, while offering deep discounts on their resale. We are sponsored by Community Environmental Center (CEC) Founded in late 2004, our Astoria warehouse opened in February of 2005. Our second reuse center opened in November 2011 and is now open 7 days a week in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Learn more at

Speaker Bio: Max spearheads the Deconstruction program at Build It Green!NYC. The recurring scene of perfectly good building materials crushed at the bottom of a dumpster led him to BIG!NYC, and he’s never looked back. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Max attended Bard College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in film. Since then he has really cultivated his skills as a precision craftsman, having worked as a fabricator, cabinetmaker and carpenter, all in NYC.

About our Second Speaker: Max Joel, Solar One

Max Joel is the former Director of the Energy Connections Program at Solar One, a non-profit green energy, arts, and education center based in New York City. The Energy Connections Program develops education, outreach, and community partnership projects in an effort to make all New Yorkers part of our city’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and develop a clean, green economy. Ongoing projects include Clean Energy Connections, a discussion series and networking hub for NYC’s emerging cleantech economy, and Whole Building Education, which trains the managers, staff, and residents of low-income housing in energy savings behaviors and management strategies. Max also served as a NYSERDA Energy $mart Communities Coordinator, helping building owners and businesses access incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Previously, Max was the Capital Projects Coordinator for the Queens Botanical Garden, where he facilitated the construction of New York City’s first public building to achieve LEED Platinum certification. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Columbia University and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where his thesis explored emerging and innovative strategies for financing green community development. Max is a 2008 Doris Duke Conservation Fellow and serves on the Advisory Board of the Jewish Greening Fellowship. He is currently consulting with Solar One and launching his own consulting practice specializing in renewable energy and community development.


February 29th, 2012

3 Best Practices for Selling Residential Renewable Energy Projects


The following post is for professionals or companies that are selling solar PV, solar thermal or geothermal heat pump systems or air source heat pumps system to residential customers.

At HeatSpring, we’ve been keep tabs on what the most profitable companies tend to do really well. There are three areas that the most profitable and well run residential solar and geothermal companies do really well.

  1. Turn visitors into leads and know how qualified those leads are. The most profitable companies have an extremely clear process for turning phone calls and website visits into site visits and understanding the differences between an extremely hot lead, and a cooler lead. Their website is optimized to turn visitors into a site visit OR into a subscriber for their newsletter. Newsletter subscribers can likely become a site visit sometime in the future.
  2. 1 Site Visit for the Most Qualified Leads. Site visits are expensive and should be used sparingly. The most profitable companies only go to site visits for very hot and pre-qualified leads. On the site visit, the sales person makes sure to gather enough technical information for the engineer to create a proper design and also gathers customer information to tailor the sales proposal to their specific needs. Doing more then 1 site visit decreases margins and not tailoring the proposal to each customer will reduce conversions.
  3. Referral strategy creates the majority of leads. The most profitable companies generate the vast majority of their leads from word of mouth and referral. The referrals tend to come from past clients who speak with their neighbors and their installation partners.

I’ve created three tools, one for each technology to help with better site visit. If you to download them, here you are. This will redirect you to a HeatSpring post where you can then download the tool for free. Feel free to change it, add questions, reformat it and use it however you like in your business.

A site visit will be a small, cash strapped, companies greatest asset or greatest liability. It will be a companies greatest asset if they are collecting the proper information needed to address the specific clients needs and gathering the needed information to create a proper design the first time.

The site visit will be a great liability if enough, or the proper, information is NOT collected, meaning that multiple visits must be made – reducing profits – or if the sales proposal is generic and does not address the clients specific needs, leading to low conversion rates.

For each site visit checklist focused on three areas.

1 – Customer Sentiment. Every sales proposal should be tailor to the desires and concerns of each client. If you’re using generic sales proposals, you will convert less then if you tailor the message to the client. It is key to gather customer specific data about why they’re interested in renewable energy.

2 – Technical Information. Technical information about the site must be gathered in order to properly quote and design any type of system. If the proper information is not collected you’ll have to go back to the site many times, or you will prices job incorrectly.

3 – Financial Information. For each sales proposal there is certain financial information you’ll need to gather about the customer, their energy usage, and the design to create a sales proposal.

The majority of this article was re-printed, with permission, form HeatSpring Magazine

November 18th, 2011

Cuts, cuts, cuts! How to Halt a UK Solar Boom

London -

Back in April 2010, the UK government introduced the feed-in tariff (FIT); a new scheme to incentivise uptake of distributed renewables throughout the country. A set tariff (different for each technology and size) is given to the generator. For example the smallest scale solar pv tariffs were set just above 40 pence per kilowatt. These are planned to gradually decrease over time, in line with a falling cost of technologies. Recent announcements indicate the cost of solar in the UK has fallen by 30% since 2010, in line with a global fall of 70% since 2008.

On an average home installation of 2.5 kW, this translates to around £1,000 untaxed, index linked income guaranteed for 25 years to the home owner. Installations of this type typically cost £10,000, so one would expect the average installations of this type to provide 15 years of income. An interesting proposition, no?

+ Continue Reading

October 12th, 2011

The Ultimate Solar Startup Guide


If you’re interested in starting a solar installation company, you’ve just found a gold mine.

I’ve been editing HeatSpring Magazine while helping a friend start a solar business. I’ve found myself constantly answering the same questions, what do I need to go to start a solar company. So, with help from HeatSpring instructors and based on my own experience, I created this handy guide.

There’s a complete reading list below for anyone who’s really interested in the solar industry. If you’ve like to see or download the guide, you can find it here “Learn how to Start a Solar Company with the Solar Startup Guide”

Reading Guide for a New Solar Company



Solar Financing

Design and Installation


April 18th, 2011

In Solar’s Coming of Age, What are the Next Opportunities?


solartech leadership, solartech conference, solarAt the recent SolarTech Leadership Summit, which took place March 29 and 30 in Santa Clara, CA, 200 industry thought leaders from California and around the country gathered to assess the greatest needs in the industry and suggest concrete actions to take in order to fill those gaps. These included topics from paperwork process standardization in permitting to better defining career paths to fill talent needs at growing companies to shifts on the utility level from transmission upgrades to demand response. How can entrants into the solar industry best position themselves to tackle these problems?

The theme of this year’s summit was Solar 3.0: A Path from Policy to Profitability. With the last steps in the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the longest-running solar incentive program in the nation, approaching, how to best transition to a unsubsidised industry and how to communicate lessons learned in California were hot topics. Markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are rapidly growing and have developed their own policies and programs. Conversations with CSI program administrators revealed that utilities, policymakers, and program administrators have not clear collaborated across the country on fostering and integrating solar.

+ Continue Reading