Charles Blaschke IV of Verdigris: 5 Things We Must Do To Inspire The Next Generation About Sustainability And The Environment

An Interview With Penny Bauder

Penny Bauder
Authority Magazine
10 min readJan 5, 2022


Make it Fun — I think too often people see this stuff as a completely different way of living — something hard, expensive or out of reach, and it makes it daunting. On the contrary, it takes a few nudges here and there and continuous improvement which can be fun to see results, impact and shared vision.

As part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Blaschke IV.

Charles Blaschke IV is an enterprise account executive at Verdigris, a leading AI company that empowers the world’s smartest buildings with data, insights and automation. Charles has more than 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and is on a mission to solve the world’s energy problems using technology. Prior to Verdigris, he founded and served as CEO of Taka Solutions, a leading smart energy efficiency provider.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in what I would call a “normal” American middle-class family. As time goes on I have realized that maybe my upbringing was a little different than most. This is due to my parents, grandparents and those around me promoting curiosity, hands-on learning and adventure. They did this in a powerful way of giving me the freedom and flexibility to test, try and break things on my own to learn without punishment (most of the time). My parents and those around me have always been very humble, hard-working people that sacrifice their comfort for the comfort and well-being of me and those around us. Both my grandfathers and father were engineers, so I had something wired in me from the beginning.

From a young age I would tinker with objects, build them, learn them, take them apart, rebuild them. Much of this can be traced back to my mother’s father who had a workshop in his basement. In his old age he started a picture framing business from his house. As a kid, my cousins and I would go to that basement for hours and hours and make things with his tools, workbenches, materials and spaces. We would turn them into Ghostbusters movie sets, hide-and-seek, and other games. This continued as I got older and started to build and repair my scooters, bicycles and eventually cars, motorcycles and airplanes.

I would play in the forest behind my house with my friends on our bikes and build tree houses, ramps and other things using spare wood and materials we would find in the dumpsters of the houses in our neighborhood. This blend of outdoors, creativity and adventure has formed who I am, but more importantly the operating model of how I live life and work. To me, being outdoors and in nature, and with animals was natural and it seemed that is how everyone lived, understood, interacted with, and respected the world around us.

Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a leader in the environment? Do you have a story to share that helped harness this moment?

The specific moment came when I was in my bedroom in Dubai writing a chapter for the green building guideline for building owners. I was tasked with providing examples of things that could be done in buildings that would save energy, water, money, and carbon. In writing a chapter I needed to provide examples, numbers and calculations that showed the impact the recommendations would make. I made this big Excel model, and when it was done, the results were outrageously good. I assumed there was an error. I went back, rebuilt it, double checked it, and what do you know: the same result.

So I took this and thought to myself, “If one system in one building could save this much energy and carbon, and this is one of 10 things this building could do to save… how far could this go?” For the next week I built on this and looked at more buildings and their actual energy use. As I went further down this hole I realized every building I was looking at was a very poor energy performer. I saw that most of the buildings could save 20–40 percent of their energy use easily, and with little investment and high return. I extrapolated this to a city, then to a country, then to the world. I then realized — holy crap — this is massive and can change the world. That was my moment. I quit my job the next day and dove into creating a company that could solve this problem and make a huge positive impact to the world. In researching more, I realized that it is a well-known fact that buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s energy, but could save 20 percent of that. I have not looked back since.

Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?

I think too many young people get told to “follow your dream” or “find your passion, then it’s not work” and other phony type things. I would guess most of the time that is said by someone who is well off, and that is not what they did to get to where they are.

I would say one of the most important things is to understand what skills you have and how you can apply that to make the impact you want. Do this by first understanding the type and scale of impact you want to make. Do you want to make the largest impact in the world, or do you want to make the biggest impact on the small scale you work? Do you want to tackle the hardest challenges to make an impact, or do you want to do the things that are proven and just need to scale, but maybe have less impact? Rank these and see how you can apply your knowledge, skills and experience to these. Then work very very hard to establish yourself in an industry and know it inside and out. Become an expert, meet the people, know the companies, look into the future. If you work 2x the number of hours of those around you, you will wake up in five years and have 10 years of experience under your belt. You then can know how to navigate where you want to go to make a bigger impact. This is the power of compounding work and effort.

What are the initiatives that you or Verdigris are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

From a company standpoint, Verdigris is accelerating the adoption of smart building technology, which has proven to significantly reduce energy waste. On average, our customers reduce their energy spend between 20–50 percent. This decreases a business’ operational costs while cutting their carbon footprint.

From a personal standpoint, I have made it my life’s mission to solve the world’s energy problems using technology. Prior to Verdigris, I founded Taka Solutions, a smart energy efficiency provider, and spent more than a decade building, testing and using energy technology and products with the goal of saving 20 percent of the world’s energy use by 2050. I’ve also spoken extensively on energy and climate-related matters, sharing my expertise and exchanging ideas at conferences around the world, including at the U.N.

Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?

Generally, take and use only what you need. I know this is generic and in some ways the definition of sustainability, but I think it’s a good overall concept to think about in making decisions. Since sustainability is such a broad and misused term that is being applied to everything, I think it’s good to have these filters to put everything through. This boils down to reducing waste in all aspects of life. Do you need so much stuff? Do you need such a big house or car? Does your AC or heat need to run for the whole house, or just the room you are in?

Give up small comfort ranges. As humans we survived and thrived for thousands of years with no heat, AC, hot water and other amenities. Today, we are so used to being perfectly comfortable at all times on demand. This comes at a huge energy cost — arguably the only reason we have a carbon issue. The second the water is not the perfect temperature we have grown to love, we are irate. The second it’s slightly colder in the house than we wish — we think we can’t live anymore.

Work remotely if possible and reduce commutes. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the positive impact of remote work on the environment. Removing the need for employees to commute to work can have a tremendous impact at scale as companies explore remote or hybrid models. Live closer to what you need, use bikes, walking and other optimized forms to live your life.

In your opinion, what are five things’ parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

Lead by Example. From what I see en masse the younger generation is already much more educated and caring about the environment and generally sustainability. They are the future and will advance us and pull the older generation along, but without a good example at home, they will see it is not really needed.

Educate. Make sure they understand the true meaning of sustainability and not the greenwashed version that we see so much of today.

Garden. This goes with my theory that we can be sustainable if we just live like our grandparents did 100 years ago. Gardening has a lot of benefits outside of providing fresh food for you. It helps you to understand nature, responsibility to keep a plant alive, how the sun, water, rain and soil work. This could also help bring families closer together which is badly needed in today’s world.

Be Healthy — Exercise, eat well, sleep, and don’t strain your body, environment and those around you. That is the opposite of the definition of sustainable.

Make it Fun — I think too often people see this stuff as a completely different way of living — something hard, expensive or out of reach, and it makes it daunting. On the contrary, it takes a few nudges here and there and continuous improvement which can be fun to see results, impact and shared vision.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

It starts with education and understanding. The simplest answer I’ve come to is that people don’t care about energy, because they don’t understand it well enough. They don’t know what their impact is, or they don’t have the right information. Once they are informed, the lightbulb goes off and they realize they can help solve climate change and save their business money.

But to answer your question in one word: efficiency. The cheapest form of energy is energy efficiency. If a company is looking at putting money towards reducing their carbon footprint in terms of what makes the biggest impact, it’s efficiency. Today there are tools like ours that will identify efficiency issues and maximize your energy use automatically. There’s really no excuse, because these tools ultimately pay for themselves. Again, it comes down to education.

An analogy: If you knew you had a weight or health problem and the doctor said to lose weight, the first thing you would ask is, “How much do I weigh now, and how much should I weigh?” Right now, we don’t have that basic insight and understanding in almost anything we do in terms of energy and carbon. That is why FitBit, Apple Watch and all of these data companies are so popular: they tell you this basic information.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are numerous people that I could list and speak about, because there is no shortage of people who made it possible to get where I am. Instead, I would say there is a specific time frame in life that laid the foundation to get me where I am today, and that is my time in college and my fraternity. We were encouraged and had a structure of support to have strict study hours, collaborate on team projects (academic and extracurricular) as well as the promotion, support and requirement to join on-campus organizations. Through this I learned how organizations are structured, run and how people contribute to them, are elected and run them. This gave me a view of college and life I did not see, and would not have seen if I just did the typical college path of studies and classroom work. I learned to network, communicate, lead, elect, debate, and run organizations.

The reason this is so important is because that is what led me to follow a similar path in my professional career of joining professional organizations. It is because of this that I started to meet industry professionals and take on non-work-related tasks. It is through these people and tasks that I excelled and started and built a company, and created a market for energy efficiency at a young age.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

Without having the empirical evidence and stack ranking them based on the quantitative values, it would be to save energy in your house or apartment. I assume this is not the biggest impact to the biggest number of people, but it would be close — and it is the one I know the most about and can pour energy into for output.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? How was that relevant to you in your own life?

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” -Leonardo da Vinci

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

Connect with me on LinkedIn:

and you can follow Verdigris on Twitter at @VerdigrisTech.

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



Penny Bauder
Authority Magazine

Environmental scientist-turned-entrepreneur, Founder of Green Kid Crafts