Legal Blog

A Video Conversation with greeNEWit- Part 1

Building sustainable communities with energy-saving solutions

greeNEWitgreenewit is a sustainable development and environmental consulting company based in Columbia, MD. With an approach that integrates planning, brand partnerships, and technology, greeNEWit helps homeowners, businesses, and government agencies save energy and natural resources to build sustainable communities and economies. The EPA recently named the company ENERGY STAR 2016 Contractor of the Year. greeNEWit’s chief innovation officer Matej Harangozo, chief communicating officer Jason Jannati, and managing partner Josh Notes joined citybizlist for this interview.

What is greeNEWit?

JASON JANNATI: greeNEWit is an energy and water efficiency consultant that takes people from where they are to where we know they can be. In that process we also evaluate if we can take them to a net-zero standard or a net-positive standard in terms of electricity, water, and food.

What was the inefficiency in the market and industry that you saw and have improved?

JASON JANNATI: The problem that greeNEWit solving is one of finite resources; of resiliency, in terms of infrastructure; of power, electricity, water, food. We’re kind of acting like a translator between the cleantech industry, the finance industry, the health industry, and the residential and the commercial marketplace. A lot of times people know they should do something but they don’t know what to do. Then, when you drop an encyclopedia-sized informational document on their desk, it’s not their core competency to go through that. What we do is we tease out the pertinent information and translate it in a way so that the residential, commercial industry can reduce cost, increase resiliency, increase community development opportunities. We’re a translator in that sense.

JOSH NOTES: I like to look at it as systems integration, but finance, real estate, and grid is where it intersects. Then most importantly, is the community, because we’re not just selling buildings power—we’re selling the people that are in those buildings that power and helping them reduce those natural resources. They know, “Yeah, we shouldn’t waste it, but how?” The other problem that maybe is a little hairier is that we’re unwinding 60, 70 years of building practices that haven’t been of the highest standard. We’re build in building booms in this country. We build fast, we build big, and we build with a bunch of subcontractors that don’t communicate well. So, we’re taking those buildings that were put together in that manner, taking them apart, and looking at how we can put them back together cost-effectively so that they can operate more efficiently, and basing our value off of that—not just what this real estate is worth on a comp value.

MATEJ HARANGOZO: Right. And I would say, simply put, the problem that greeNEWit is trying to solve is how to make it a no-brainer so any real estate operator—residential, commercial, and later down the line, even industrial—to realize that energy is a big piece of how their building operates. It’s a piece of the animal, if the building is the animal. We’re helping owners realize that it’s not just a mortgage but energy costs matter, and maybe they should think of it in a different way altogether.

How critical have the utility and government programs been to your success?

JASON JANNATI: There are certainly opportunities. We work with developers on building things the right way in certain circumstances but we believe fundamentally there is so much existing real estate that needs to get overhauled that’s already there, that going and trying to convince a general contractor to alter or change their construction process—is that a battle we want to engage with, or do we work with existing customers who own thousands and thousands of properties across the country? Where are we going to get a better impact?

JOSH NOTES: To kind of piggyback on that and say where are we headed: they’re doing ENERGYSTAR star residential but are they building to resiliency? What happens when Sandy—storm X-Y-Z—comes along: How is that building doing now? Yes, it has natural light and yes, it has high efficiency LEDs, but the basement’s flooding, the sump pump doesn’t have a backup; it’s not that useful as a building. We’re seeing solar combined with storage and fuel cells as really a bridge to that future, and we do want to sell that in new builds but we want conscious developers that are interested in that and see the value of sustainability and resiliency rather than us trying to go out there and knock down doors.

MATEJ HARANGOZO: In a way, government does have a role to play in it, especially policy because the United States energy efficiency industry is so fragmented and the way… I was just on a skiing trip, met a builder that dealt with mixed use—commercial at the bottom, multi-family and four storeys at the top—and he wasn’t so attracted to energy efficiency. He retrofit his systems in the building from the start up because it wasn’t financially feasible from the way he was used to doing it. But also in the region that he operated in, the policy didn’t really push for it. So the combination of the two can help spread this industry. That’s what helped us as greeNEWit in Maryland as well: being close to next-to-experimental grounds for energy efficiency industry as it originated, at least to us, 10 years ago or so.


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