Call for Energy Innovators Provides Exclusive Opportunity for Startups

By Rafael Reyes

Rafael Reyes is VP of Community Initiatives for Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV), an urbantech innovation hub working with innovators across sectors to advance solutions for sustainable, smart cities.

With the recent signing of SB 32 by the California Governor Jerry Brown, the State will be maintaining its aggressive emission reduction goals and taking it even further to achieve an additional 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030. This further strengthened effort to reduce emissions will mean that all industries, from transportation to manufacturing and construction, will need to take new measures and innovate across sectors.

One of the biggest culprits of greenhouse gas emissions are buildings. In this context, ProspectSV has taken on a couple of ambitious projects in San Francisco. With two, $3M grants from the California Energy Commission, we are working with an impressive set of partners to upgrade a Whole Foods Market and a historic, mixed-use building to Zero Net Energy (ZNE). ZNE design means that the building will utilize no more energy than it can produce onsite over the course of a calendar year resulting in no energy utility costs and will emit no greenhouse gasses through energy use.

The Projects

marketzeroThe MarketZero project will convert a Whole Foods Market to ZNE (or near-ZNE) and showcase advanced strategies in energy efficiency. The project will include pre-commercial technologies and will serve as a case study for grocery stores throughout California. The ZNE benefits for the store range from lower operating costs to greater reliability and energy security. The Whole Foods Market that will receive the upgrade is located at 3950 24th street in San Francisco.

Project partners include: Whole Foods Market, Arup, SF Department of Environment and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

innovatenetzeroThe InnovateNetZero project will retrofit a historic building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, which houses ninety-one, low-income residents and is owned and operated by the Chinatown Community Development Center. The project will apply the same cost cutting strategies that high-end commercial buildings use, while at the same time passing those savings to the nonprofit that runs this housing facility. The project will also provide triple bottom line benefits with social, economic and environmental value and serve as a model for buildings nationally.

Project partners include Chinatown Community Development Center, RMW architecture & interiors, Integral Group, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the San Francisco 2030 District.

Benefits

These projects will demonstrate the methods and market viability of California's aggressive ZNE building goals – 50% of existing buildings by 2030. In both of these projects, we are targeting building types that are especially challenging to upgrade to ZNE and typically have not been targeted by the ZNE design community. There will also be benefits to economy as we are seeking to be a model for future projects in these sectors, and are specifically looking for solutions that will work at scale for future multi-unit retrofits or other grocery stores. There are also benefits to startups – more about that below.

Tech Discovery

So what’s ProspectSV’s role in all this? As a nonprofit urbantech innovation hub working to advance solutions for sustainable, smart cities, we work with startups, government, corporations and academia to accelerate innovations in transportation, energy and the built environment. These projects bring all of these partners together in an effort to achieve ZNE and transform an industry.

For startup companies, this is an incredibly unique opportunity, not only is this a highly-visible project, but new technologies submitted will have an opportunity to gain multi-stakeholder feedback from our teams of designers, engineers and building operators. Recommended teams may be selected for access to the ProspectSV network and ProspectSV commercialization support program as well.

Interested startup applicants should respond to the Request for Information (RFI). Deadline for submission is September 30, 2016.

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