Opportunity Miami
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Opportunity Miami

Turning buildings into Teslas

This is the August 30, 2022 edition of the Opportunity Miami newsletter written by Matt Haggman, which we send every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe to get our weekly updates in your inbox.

Featured Content

Podcast with Ian Harris of BlocPower
Decarbonizing American cities, one building at a time
Listen or watch on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube.

When we launched Opportunity Miami a little more than nine months ago, we said Miami’s economic future hinges on doing three things well. One of the pillars: turning the challenge of climate change into a generational business opportunity.

The reason is that a giant shift is underway as our economy transitions to net zero — in other words, to an economy that puts no more carbon into the air than is taken out. The bet is that this shift — which we already see in the auto industry — will result in countless new industries, companies, and jobs.

One company seeking to speed this transition in the built environment — from offices to homes to places of worship — is a Brooklyn-based startup called BlocPower. It’s working to electrify buildings across the U.S. or, put another way, to “turn buildings into Teslas.”

BlocPower retrofits buildings by installing solar panels, electric heat pumps, and emission-reducing tech. It works directly with property owners and has forged partnerships with city leaders and local governments.

“It’s not as difficult as you think it is. There are resources readily available,” said BlocPower’s Ian Harris about decarbonizing buildings. “You are making your building cleaner, healthier and smarter. And there is a great opportunity to create a job for the future.”

BlocPower is now getting plenty of attention. This year it ranked fourth in Fast Company’s list of the Most Innovative Companies of 2022 and featured in TIME’s 100 Most Influential Companies. Investors include Goldman Sachs, Kapor Capital, Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, and Andreesen Horowitz.

But not only that, it’s actively upskilling people through a climate tech workforce program called the Civilian Climate Corps to do the work. This includes training people from underserved communities. The thesis is that there’s a correlation between decarbonizing buildings, creating jobs, and driving social mobility.

Harris joined us for our most recent Opportunity Miami podcast to talk about BlocPower and how other communities, like Greater Miami, can be part of this change.

You can listen or watch on Spotify, Apple Podcast, or YouTube.

Listen Now: Decarbonizing American cities, one building at a time ▶

With the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the work of decarbonizing buildings is likely to pick up speed. The legislation, signed into law two weeks ago, includes rebates and tax credits to spur electrification and energy-efficient retrofitting in buildings.

We spoke with Harris for the podcast before the legislation was proposed and quickly enacted.

The work is vitally important for South Florida. In Miami-Dade County, buildings account for 41 percent of community-wide emissions. It’s second only to transportation at 55 percent. It’s an opportunity to drive business growth. And, all the while, to create jobs across our community.

The market, Harris said, is exploding “in terms of solutions, opportunities, investments all around the green economy.”

When asked what future he hopes this creates, he said, “Less people relying on fossil fuels…We’ll see more people relying on solar, we’ll see more people fully electrifying their buildings, and it’s not even just people, it’s full-scale electrification from a municipality standpoint.”

The aim, he continued, is for places like the Miami-Dade County and “many more cities across the country doing the same work.”

On a separate note, we have our first Opportunity Miami Live event next week. It’s entitled “The Future of Talent, Work, and Education” and will feature Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation. Jamie authored “Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines” and previously wrote the award-winning book “America Needs Talent.”

Hosted by Miami Dade College, the lunchtime event is presented by Opportunity Miami’s Academic Leaders Council. The ALC is composed of the people who, more than anyone else across Greater Miami, are deciding our talent development future. Namely, the presidents of Barry University, Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, St. Thomas University, University of Miami, and the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

We have a limited number of seats. If you would like to join us, RSVP here.

As always, we want to hear from you. We would love to hear your ideas on people, organizations, and trends that are pivotal to Miami’s economic future that we should be highlighting. You can email us at next@opportunity.miami or engage with us on social media. Please invite friends to subscribe to the newsletter here.

Hope to see you.

Matt Haggman
Opportunity Miami



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