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Original Article – https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-18/green-energy-business-focuses-on-home-renovation

Donnel Baird’s BlocPower hopes to reduce emissions by helping underserved Americans.

Baird
BairdSource: Getty Images

By

Sojourner EllebyMarch 18, 2022, 4:30 AM PDT

BlocPower’s goal is the greening of 125 million buildings in the U.S.—homes, offices, schools, and more. And Baird aims to do it in an equitable and inclusive way, ensuring that poor communities get as much attention—and as many jobs—as wealthier areas.

How does BlocPower work?
We rip out the fossil fuel heating, cooling, and hot water equipment and replace it with modern electric equipment that makes buildings greener, healthier, and smarter. Buildings contribute more than 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so even if every American were given an electric vehicle, we still wouldn’t be able to reduce emissions as much as if they all decarbonized their homes.

What kind of government assistance would make that happen faster?
What we really need is inspiration. John F. Kennedy said, “We’re going to put a man on the moon,” and he mobilized a generation to achieve that. We’re facing an extinction-level crisis in climate change. We need multiple generations of Americans to work hand in hand to address the crisis.

Where have you concentrated your efforts?
BlocPower focuses on America’s urban core. We really want to get into neglected, old, hard-to-reach buildings like the brownstone in Brooklyn where I grew up. It was built a hundred years ago and didn’t even have a working heating system. There are millions of buildings like that across the country—older, financially underserved, and unable to afford green engineering.

You once suggested that hiring 1,000 George Floyds could help save the planet. Can you explain what you meant?
What if George Floyd, instead of floating between jobs as a bouncer, had a career in green construction? We have to unlock the massive talent in our generation to address climate change. That talent is diverse, because genius is evenly distributed throughout the population. So of course the solutions to climate change are going to come from a diverse group.

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