Today's guest is Robyn Beavers, Co-Founder & CEO of Blueprint Power. Blueprint Power is a NYC-based startup, unlocking new revenue for real estate owners by transforming their buildings into power plants and connecting them to new energy markets and customers. It offers commercial property owners a suite of data-driven machine learning tools that automate the management, aggregation, orchestration, and market transactions of energy assets across their entire portfolio. Blueprint’s vision is to work with the real estate industry to transform America’s cities into new urban energy markets. Having began her career at Google spearheading green operations and strategy, Robin developed deep experience in the energy sector at a variety of companies and organizations. Her time at Lennar, overseeing investments in real estate tech companies, was a pivotal foundation that would lead her to combine her experience in energy and real estate and found Blueprint Power. I had a great discussion with Robin in this episode about clean energy, the grid, the regulatory landscape and her experience pitching to early-investors. Hope you enjoy our conversation. Enjoy the show! You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at email@example.com, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.
In today’s episode, we cover:
Jason Jacobs: Hello everyone. This is Jason Jacobs and welcome to My Climate Journey . This show follows my journey to interview a wide range of guests to better understand and make sense of the formidable problem of climate change and try to figure out how people like you and I can help.
Today's guest is Robin Beavers, the cofounder and CEO of Blueprint Power.
Blueprint Power unlocks new revenue for real estate owners by transforming their buildings into power plants and connecting them to new energy markets and customers. They have a suite of data-driven machine learning tools that automate the management, aggregation, orchestration, and market transactions of energy assets across their entire client's portfolios.
Their vision is to work with the real estate industry to transform America cities into new urban energy markets. I have a great discussion with Robin in this episode about clean energy, the grid, regulated and deregulated markets, the important transition that's occurring, some of the hurdles that are holding us back. What some structural changes could be to unlock our trajectory to go faster, and what role Blueprint hopes to play in the short term and the long term. I had fun with this one, and I hope you enjoy.
Robin Beavers, welcome to the show.
Robyn Beavers: Thanks for having me.
Jason Jacobs: Thank you for being here. This is a first, we are doing a remote episode with a guest recording in their car.
Robyn Beavers: Can make it happen anywhere.
Jason Jacobs: Yeah. I'll tell you, that is dedication and that is hustle. You must be an entrepreneur.
Robyn Beavers: It's also funny because I'm rarely in my car. I'm usually on a train, so it's interesting in a lot of ways.
Jason Jacobs: I'm the same actually. I would use my car as little as possible, but then some of these trips where we have, I have little kids, so it's like.
The strollers and the just all the stuff. It makes it hard to take the train, but if it wasn't for that, I would, I would never drive.
Robyn Beavers: Yes.
Jason Jacobs: I'm so glad to have you on your name and Blueprint Power's name has come up a ton as I've made the rounds is just an example of a company that is really kind of on the front lines doing innovative stuff.
So I'm excited to dig in and, and hear the story.
Robyn Beavers: Great. It's obviously an exciting time for us, but we've been at it for a while. So happy to share our story a little bit and talk about what we've seen as Blueprint, and many of the team members have been working on new energy and climate oriented innovation for a long time.
So happy to share anything that makes sense today.
Jason Jacobs: Well, for starters, what's Blueprint Power.
Robyn Beavers: Blueprint Power. We are in New York city based startup and we help turn buildings into clean power plants. So we've built an end to end platform that ingest data from buildings and energy assets at buildings as well as data from energy markets and any place that needs electricity and we help buildings generate supply that markets are willing to buy. So at the end of the day, we're delivering new revenues back to building owners as we're decarbonizing the buildings and the grid. So we're build a software platform, but what it's actually doing is, is generating new types of clean supply that markets are willing to pay for.
Jason Jacobs: And so if I can kind of parrot that back as a way to test my understanding. So these buildings produce electricity or energy to power the things that are going on within the buildings and not all of it is getting utilized there. Some that would otherwise be wasted. And essentially you're capturing that surplus energy in providing an additional revenue stream and driving up efficiencies that will make for more efficient use of energy overall, which is good for the planet, but also provide revenue streams to these buildings that are producing it and to the buyer, presumably either a better product or a more attractive price than they could get elsewhere.
Robyn Beavers: Exactly, yep. So for example, one of our big customers for our supply is the grid itself. So the grid is increasingly getting strained. It's old as we know here in the U S and in definitely in parts of New York city. So sometimes it needs help from local supply to heal itself. It's probably the best way to say it.
Also, the grid is increasingly looking for cleaner supply, so that often comes from large scale renewables, like solar farms and wind farms, but buildings that, as you said, they're not wasting as much energy and can help the grid that way. Or if they're producing clean energy onsite for rooftop solar or other optimization methods that can help provide cleaner supply to the grid too.
So that's just one example of what we do. We can also help sell supply to cars that need to charge as they electrify. We can help sell clean supply to tenants. We can help the building, just use it itself to save money. So there's a lot of options out there right now, which is really exciting, and we're just helping connect all those dots to make it easy to collect those dollars.
Jason Jacobs: Well, I have a ton of questions about the work that you do, but before we get into that, how did you come about doing this work? What's the Robin Beavers origin story?
Robyn Beavers: I've been mostly focused on energy innovation in my career. So I started at Google where I eventually launched their first screen operations team.
This was in 2005 so Green's Google for many years. I put solar on the headquarters, worked with the data center teams to kick off clean energy procurement. Design green building guidelines for all the offices, like the usual kind of let's go green a company, which was very exciting at the time and trend setting for Google.
And now obviously it's more common and more of a standard practice, which is exciting to see. So that's where I started and I got hooked on energy really that way. So after Google, I was in the wind industry with Vestis in Europe, in here, back in the U S I worked in the power industry at NRG as the senior vice president of innovation.
And increasingly I was getting more interested in distributed generation where you could have networks of small generators to create a robust. Option or alternative to centralized networks. Very Google inspired, of course. And that's what I've been really working on ever since. And the last piece of the puzzle though, which really led to Blueprint was I learned recently, I was part of the real estate industry.
At the largest home builder called Lennar. As they were figuring out that the homes they were building were increasingly vehicles for clean energy. They built their own rooftop solar company themselves, and we're starting to explore more what that meant for their longterm business. As I was building out distributed energy systems, things like micro grid projects and in other programs I was realizing real estate was a part of the piece of the puzzle.
So I learned a lot about real estate from my time at Lennar, and that's really where Blueprint came together. It's truly a blend of real estate tech and energy tech. So that's a very high level summary.
Jason Jacobs: How did you connect those dots? Did you hit your head in the shower or was there some kind of pivotal moment, or was it just kind of an incremental progression of a number of different pieces over an extended period of time?
Robyn Beavers: That quick highlight I just explained was probably a 15 year period or a 12 year period. So it's been a while, but I mean, it's been a progression in many ways. I mean, in this period of time, a lot of great things have happened around me and around all of us working at this for a long time. Energy technologies have progressed along the commercialization curve. So cost of solar has plummeted. We now actually have viable battery energy storage options that are starting to register. Software is now, can now be applied to build businesses on top of this infrastructure. Some of the regulatory stuff is starting to get organized, so all of that's been happening over the past 10 to 15 years due to a lot of hard work and a lot of investment in over the years to move this along. I mean, the renewable energy industry is so new still. It's a nascent industry when you compare it to things like the coal industry or the natural gas industry. Right? So it's just the next cycle. So I couldn't start Blueprint five years ago. It wouldn't have worked. It would have been too early to market. We wouldn't have been able to do half the things we're doing from a technical or regulatory perspective. So it wasn't like this aha moment. I mean, as much as I don't know, it's just a progression and a feel for where things are heading and just keeping your eyes open for how different industries are starting to converge. It's no longer just let's innovate within the energy industry. It's how does the built environment collide with energy infrastructure and and now increasingly capital markets, and how is money being deployed across this and just making sure you're keeping your eyes open to all those trends is, I think the most important thing now because things are happening so fast, which is great.
Jason Jacobs: For me, I built a fitness app company over almost a decade, most recently, and in that journey there were very little dependencies. It wasn't a big kind of systems dynamic. It was like you build an app, you get people to use it, you build a community and you can, as the community grows, you can help them get better results over time in something like this, with turning buildings into virtual power plants, there's deregulated markets, regulated markets, the grid, there's policy, there's different dependencies in different parts of the world, different layers of the stack. It seems a lot more cumbersome. Like. Where do you start when you're building something from zero that's as ambitious and as interdependent as this.
Robyn Beavers: Well, yeah, all of that is very true. So we really focused on the real estate industry itself to get started. And that's because if you think about it as the evolving changing grid around us, it's becoming more distributed. And the key components of that grid are actual buildings. Cause buildings, if you think about it, first off, they're the demand.
They're the demand centers for the grid. It's why the grid is there. It's originally was delivering one way supply from power plants far away to where the people are, which is generally housed inside of buildings. Now. Buildings can be suppliers too. It is now a flexible resource. It could be consuming from the grid or contributing to the grid at any given time.
And the buildings are also the hosts of this new infrastructure. Distributed generation assets that need somewhere to live, to also support the grid. And so when you keep thinking about it, like buildings are the center of it all. They're the most important piece of this new grid. And real estate, obviously... the real estate industry, that's like a brand new role for them in the future of energy, in this energy transition. So to grow a business like this, the real estate industry has to want to be a major part of it. And so we started by making sure there actually was demand from large real estate owners and the folks that not just own the buildings, but also have a really loud voice and a big influence in regulatory environments.
In the markets. It's a significant part of the economy and how cities work and we just needed to make sure they wanted this and wanted to be a part of it.
Jason Jacobs: And is that commercial or residential or both?
Robyn Beavers: Both. All of the above. We print starting with commercial and commercial real estate. And in New York that's obviously a major industry, but I don't see why it wouldn't matter with residential, I mean, residential could mean anything from multifamily to single family for rent platforms to, yeah, just, you know, communities of actual individual homeowners. So it's a bit of a perception change that is harder to predict and make happen compared to like a technological advancement in a vacuum.
But you know better than anyone you can build communities or change perception when there's something of value and meaningful that's new and understood. So that's where we started with Blueprint cause that's always been the missing piece of this new distributed future is assuming that buildings and the real estate owners and influencers actually want to be a part of it in a major way and are allowed to be.
Jason Jacobs: And so when was this that these discussions started happening with the commercial real estate players?
Robyn Beavers: Well, we started Blueprint around the time we noticed that on the energy regulatory side, rules were changing to allow for distributed energy assets to be real participants in energy markets.
And then for us, that meant, okay, great, that's allowed. There must be some financial value in it for whoever is. Owning or hosting those assets. And once we figured out there was, that's when we started talking to real estate seriously. And we were pleasantly surprised by the reception.
Jason Jacobs: And then what came next?
Robyn Beavers: We built a company and we grew a team and raise some money. And yeah, we've just been building. For the last couple of years and working closely with some of our first partners and getting the product ready for deployment. And we have not gone public with some key milestones we've hit yet, but we've come a long way in a short period of time.
Jason Jacobs: And so in terms of the initial entry point, it is getting these building owners to become customers where they can sell their extra capacity back to the grid, essentially.
Robyn Beavers: Yeah. I mean, a lot of it's first helping them understand what that economic value of their building is as a power plant. So just, you know, to make sure it's worth it for them.
Cause even if there's some value, is it really, they have a lot of other things to do and invest their capital in and spend time on, so it needs to be worth it. And so. A lot of our initial conversations were around that, and luckily a lot of these large real estate platforms, we target the bigger ones.
They have internal executives and teams that think about this stuff all day long. They're thinking about energy. They're often thinking about sustainability. Now they're all thinking about ESG, and they're really educated, thoughtful partners in this. You know, it's not, the education piece actually isn't the hardest part.
It's just making sure it can be the experience for them is what they want it to be. So we've found that the real estate industry is quite advanced and they're really collaborative partners with us. Actually. It's not having to try to convince them to do anything. It's working with them. I would say.
Jason Jacobs: You should I be thinking about this as a two sided marketplace?
Robyn Beavers: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think eventually what we're doing is we're creating these relating up new networks of distributed energy and buildings, and across those networks, dollars are flowing between things, between buildings, between markets, along with the energy services that are flowing. So a marketplace is what will emerge from this.
Jason Jacobs: And so you've got the building owners who have the extra capacity. So who's on the other side of that transaction? I mean, you said the grid, but what does that actually mean?
Robyn Beavers: So there could be the wholesale power markets, which is usually in deregulated markets, as you mentioned earlier, would be the ISOA.
And so those are the markets that traditional power plants are selling into. Another group of. Takers of the supply, our utilities, the local utilities themselves, they often have some program or a way to pay for certain behavior that you're, you're delivering to the grid at certain times, and there's a new big emerging customer called fleets of electric mobility.
So either buses or cars that are looking to charge where their riders are or anywhere, frankly. So that's another big taker of supply from buildings. And then I think tenants themselves, you know, in many cases they're looking for clean supply or are being more proactive about how as tenants in a building they're looking for how they're getting their electricity. So there's actually multiple categories, and I think the number of those categories will grow over time as the world also electrifies and decarbonizes.
Jason Jacobs: Forgive my uninformed question, but in terms of the, when they do have the extra capacity and then one of those stakeholders that you just mentioned procure, is it, how does that extra capacity actually get transmitted and which piece of that are you doing versus some some other providers up the stack.
Robyn Beavers: Blueprint is kind of the overarching layer that sending the dispatch instructions to the building and the energy assets. And we're also interconnected with all these different buyers that I mentioned and transacting with them. So we're, we're settling trades or we're confirming delivery, and basically we're the direct counterparty in between all of those players and assets. In many cases, you do use the grid. We sell from the building through its interconnection with the grid back into the grid, either to the wholesale markets or to the utilities. Use the same grid to do those two different things with cars.
You would do it through the local charging on state and you know, we would be integrated with the charging network or management. Layer, whatever from our network partner that is. So it's, you know, it's a bunch of different integrations through software APIs and our data communications network.
Jason Jacobs: And how would these transactions get completed in a world that Blueprint didn't exist, or how was it done before you existed?
Robyn Beavers: So some of these transactions weren't allowed before. Some of them are new, like in terms of access for buildings with small generation, you know, in the wholesale power markets, they weren't really allowed to sell into those before until a couple of years.
Jason Jacobs: What changed that enabled them to be allowed now?
Robyn Beavers: Rules, regulatory changes in different areas.
Jason Jacobs: And is that at the federal level or at the state level?
Robyn Beavers: New York is at the state level. It could be city, state, or federal. Depending on where you are. So that's also complicated.
Jason Jacobs: So some rules of changed to start to enable it. And were there other ways outside of that?
Robyn Beavers: Yeah, so I'd say historically there've been like pieces of this puzzle or one asset would be trying to get one of those revenue streams or a building could try to do. There's like pieces of the puzzle were out there, but the whole kind of integrated end to end.
It's just like a multi-factor optimization basically happening. That was not possible before, but you've seen like 1.0 versions of best through maybe like traditional demand response where you know, demand response providers would call like a big manufacturing facility to reduce their load for four hours and get paid for it.
That's a good foundational example of a 1.0 version of this.
The building owners that you're serving, are you typically introducing this revenue stream to them for the first time or are you pulling them from doing it some other way that wasn't meeting their needs sufficiently?
It's mostly new revenue streams, but sometimes because we can deliver it all.
Together as one service, we will pick up other existing revenue streams they might have already had. Generally they see this as a new, unique service.
Jason Jacobs: What can you say about your traction to date, just to kind of, and I know you mentioned there's some non-disclosed milestones, but whatever, whatever you feel comfortable sharing.
Just to give us kind of an order of magnitude on where Blueprint Power is as a company.
Robyn Beavers: Sure. I can't be super specific at this moment, but we are working with some of the largest landlords in New York city, and we represent hundreds of millions of square feet in their portfolio. So we've had very significant customer attraction in New York city that we're looking forward to discussing publicly soon.
Jason Jacobs: Great. And so switching gears, what is it that motivates you to do the work that you do. Like, why did you choose this problem?
Robyn Beavers: Oh, I don't even know if I, it's at some point you're like, it's just what I do, you know? But my undergrads in engineering, I actually studied civil engineering. So buildings were my first love.
And you learn to think about buildings as. Well, I don't know. Once you start learning and understanding how things work, sometimes you realize they could be improved and they could be better, and you just always want to make things better, and you could look at a building individually and think about how you could better optimize.
How it uses electricity or how it gets it, how people feel in it. I mean, there's a lot of people thinking about those issues all the time and it's very important, like healthy. These buildings are for people who work and live in them all the time. How they make people feel. There's always, always problem if you have a problem solving mindset.
There's endless work. And so I feel like I tend to have that, but then I got bitten by the energy bug so early on because. I mean, the grid itself is a fascinating feat of engineering. And when you dig into the history of electrification in the U S it's amazing. It's breathtaking. Like how it came together in the twenties and thirties and from a mix of technical regulatory and marketing to electrify that, like the U S and 15 years, like it's amazing.
And now when you see where it is and there's just so much potential to solve all these problems that are around us, like climate and just reliability, and there's just things out there that should be a part of it, and you get frustrated, it's not, and you go work hard to try to make it part of the solution.
And I think that's what has really been driving me. I mean, there's a really great chart. I sent it around to everyone, and a lot of people love this chart that the DOE publishes, and it's a sinky diagram that is a really visual way to show. Basically, you can see all the different types of fuel that are consumed in the U S every year and where it's used either at central, like large scale generation plants or, or if it's used and consumed at, we're distributed building assets and then what the useful energy that comes out of it is, and you on the right hand side of the chart, you see that out of all the few, every like unit, a fuel use in the U S over 50% of it is wasted as heat unusable heat. And so it's like a very inefficient system. And so you could look at that chart and see. A lot of you could read it in any way you want. You could say, Oh, that waste heat is bad for climate or the environment and shouldn't be used. You can see that waste heat as unutilized cashflow or unrealized cashflow, or you could see how different fuels are better at centralized generation versus distributed generation.
I mean, there you just look at this chart for hours and find tons of problems to solve to make things better. So. For everyone who's obsessed with this stuff. It's a lifelong career. There'll be no shortage of work to do.
Jason Jacobs: And when you look out, I guess, at end state in your wildest dreams, what has Blueprint Power achieved at that point?
Robyn Beavers: I think we'll be able to point from a quantifiable way. You know, we'll have generated a ton of economic value, but we'll also have delivered. Major impact in terms of greenhouse gas reduction in carbon, both at buildings and for the grid. The behavior we help buildings adopt doesn't. It doesn't just help the building's individual carbon footprint improve or greenhouse gas footprint improve.
It also helps strengthen the grid to accommodate more and more things we love, like large scale renewables and electric transportation. So there's these like consent orders of, of impact that can be delivered when you build these distributed intelligent networks that we're building. So in our wildest dreams, we'll be able to.
Point to meaningful impact. From that standpoint, we'll be able to point to cities all around the world that are utilizing Blueprint networks and also show quantifiable economic value we've created for our customers. And of course for ourselves and for the economies around us. I mean, it should lead to.
Economic growth for other ancillary companies and services around us, like solar installers, battery OEM, you know, the supply chain. Anyway, there's just a lot of benefits we'll be able to say, because we were able to remove all these barriers and create this frictionless network. All these layers of services and value could be applied.
Jason Jacobs: And so I think it's interesting, I mean, you talk about the financial gain that could come both for the company, but also for the customers if you're successful. But then you also talk about the impact as it relates to climate change, emissions, things like that. And in some of the other things that you mentioned, I mean, how big a motivator is climate change in doing the work that you do?
And there's no right answer, by the way. I'm just trying to gauge for your personal motivations.
Robyn Beavers: So again, we've only been around two-ish years and we all come from similar backgrounds tackling clean energy for most of our careers. And so it's inherent for everyone on the team. What was interesting when we started the company though, I mean two years ago, climate was not top of mind in the public consciousness and going to raise first on climate impact and second on economic value was not really doable, frankly.
Jason Jacobs: Is that where you started? Did you initially lead with climate?
Robyn Beavers: No, we initially led with our economic, I mean, we wanted to build a good, successful business, so we led with our business plan, which was all around the revenues we could deliver to. The building owners by using our deep expertise and energy market, like understanding what, how, how to connect the dots to uncover that opportunity and deliver that.
But it was all, all of our sales pitches were solely focused on the economic value we deliver to their customers. And they still are, of course, that what's changed though is now we also talk about the de-carbonization aspect, which is inherent to Blueprint. No matter what. We were just going to do that just without talking about it, but now we talk about it, which is a binary change in the last year for us.
Jason Jacobs: For those that are really motivated by climate. How do you think about these for profit endeavors that can be wildly profitable if they're successful, can they, can they play a big role from the impact side as well? And then how should you stack rank those? Like should they be equal citizens or is the thought that leading with profit first will be directly correlated with impact in the long run.
Like not necessarily just for Blueprint, but just in general. Because I mean, the reason I ask, there's a lot of Silicon Valley type people that are interested in reorienting this direction that are motivated by climate, but I think they and, and even me, like we wrestle with impact versus profit because we want to have an outsized impact.
But then if you lead with impact, are you going to build something that isn't, that doesn't achieve the same kind of scale and therefore isn't as impactful. So I'm not wording the question very well, but maybe you understand what I'm getting at.
Robyn Beavers: Yes, I do. So I have always personally believed that those things are not mutually exclusive, but how you build a business or capitalize it. You have to be mindful of that based on what is possible. And sorry, I'm not being very clear right now either, but so everything I've done in my career is creating something new to deliver change and impact for profitable companies, but it was hard. Maybe it's hard to go build a venture backed business five or 10 years ago because it wasn't the right time or there weren't the right pieces or there more the right applications to build in a way that venture looks for businesses to be built in those moments, I would do it internally at large platforms like Google or NRG, or you could do it in other ways.
Like I spent a summer at the department of energy in grad school and they were deploying billions of dollars in R and D investments that have pretty much delivered on the commercialization success that like I can now take advantage of 10 years later. I think what you're asking is from like the very specific venture mindset in terms of how do you build a venture backed scalable business that hits the playbook that other successful models of venture have worked.
It's always worth double checking to make sure that's the right path to build a successful business that delivers impact. And. That's not the only way to do it, right? Like a lot of what needs to happen now is infrastructure overhaul. The bill environment actually also needs to be overhauled. There's different types of capital out there that can make a lot of money doing that.
Today, that's not venture capital. People could go build very successful, impactful platforms that way as well. So I guess my long winded answer is they're not mutually exclusive. Everyone who's building a business should make sure is going to be a financially viable business no matter what. But how you do it, whether it's venture backed or another way.
There's so many options out there and it really depends on what you're doing and what business you're building.
Jason Jacobs: Climate tech is a weird thing because on the one hand, the overlap on the Venn diagram between the energy industry and clean energy, right? It's like clean energy. It's growing, but it's like a little slice of the energy industry and then a lot of the energy industry is.
Things like coal and natural gas and things that ultimately we want to phase off of. And then a lot of those vested interests have tried to fight the clean energy transition. Yet from a skillset standpoint, it's a similar type of expertise to help bring things forward. So that's kind of one tension that I'm sorting through is like.
What is the role of the incumbents in this new world? And then there's a second, which is that the Sequoias, and I mean all of these like Sand Hill Road firms are starting to set up climate at email addresses. And they say they're interested in climate, but actually what they're probably interested in is like the thin subset of climate that fits nicely into the venture model.
And so, I mean, those are very different tensions, or are there kind of come at it from different sides, but it's still, it's like. The words really matter. And so you can say the same words to an energy person versus a clean energy person versus a software person versus a hard tech person. Right. Or, you know, versus an impact fund versus, it's project finance, right.
And you'll get just wildly different answers and perspectives, and I'm just trying to sort through all of it.
Robyn Beavers: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And also just to add another layer of complexity. Climate is not just energy. There's other topics like water and food and agriculture and materials, and it's, you know, I would not claim to be an expert in many of those categories, but that's a whole other factor of this climate is a systems.
Conversation and it's the natural systems we're dealing with and how they interact with each other. It's industries, it's the economic systems, it's the flows of capital, it's everything. And many people have been tackling this kind of quietly or not so quietly over the last 20 years or so, but now that there's so much focus on it, which is what it needs, I think many people like you, and I mean there's no answer yet.
You're starting to have to look across. Systems of decision making and strategies, and it, you decide how you want to participate in that. You can pick one approach that you know well and that will contribute to the overall change. Or you, you try to think about it from a systems level, which you're clearly doing right now.
Jason Jacobs: So one question for you is just, yes, energy is only one piece of the puzzle, but it's the biggest. And so you, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you're funded, you know, at least some by traditional. Venture capital. So for someone that's looking at clean energy, if I'm a VC looking at clean energy, I guess, what are the elements of clean energy that you think are a good fit for the venture model?
And then what are the elements that are important? But that should probably be funded a different way.
Robyn Beavers: Sure. So a lot of what Blueprint's doing, and there's opportunities for this in general, is layering. Flows of data and services on top of physical assets that create venture like platforms. And that is what is now possible because it's a chicken and an egg thing you to do that you sort of needed physical infrastructure that wanted that or was allowed to have it or existed.
So for Blueprint, you know, we were sort of waiting for things like distributed generation. Rooftop, solar batteries, all these things they keep saying at building to either be there or it's totally viable for them to be there. And then you can start layering data and services and flows of dollars on top of it.
And that feels very venture . So Blueprint, we're not financing batteries. We're not paying for the solar. We're not owning those assets. That is a different source of capital that. We will partner with someone needs to own those things and we can help them. Or, but that's a different type of dollar that wants to finance that asset.
So you need to understand how all those worlds work to make sure you're delivering value across the board. But, but yeah, in terms of like a venture standpoint, it's starting to look at new services and inflows of data on top of the physical infrastructure. That is either here or will be here. And thinking ahead for that.
Jason Jacobs: So if the data and services piece is the piece that lines up better with the venture model, do you think that Blueprint is an exception in the clean energy world in terms of things lining up in that way? Or are there a number of places where that similar thesis could be applied?
Robyn Beavers: It's all about market timing and readiness.
So if you think of, well, like an iPhone or a smartphone exists now to just basically support all these new data and services and apps. Like those things couldn't exist without that iPhone existing or that smartphone existing. But now they do. And it's like a whole new world of applications layered on top of things.
And that's where a lot of the value has been created. And if you think of the physical. Energy infrastructure evolving to a way where it can start accommodating those layers of services, and then it's like it's creativity moment. It's like the sky's the limit as to what the opportunities are on top of that infrastructure.
It's not green field. I mean, you still have a lot of regulation and entrenched. I mean, it's not a whole new world to just go at it, but again, that's how I see it is you're not just. Trying to replace physical assets and that's, that's the only job to be done here. It's, it's what are the new layers on top of the built world that is now possible and people should be busy for the next 10 to 20 years dreaming up really valuable businesses to layer on top of this.
Jason Jacobs: Any freebies you want to throw out to listeners if you weren't building Blueprint. What would you be doing?
Robyn Beavers: Oh, I'll talk about where I see a lot of great opportunities. I mentioned water waters a little bit. I'd say my friends and I who talk about water a lot, it's like a little bit behind energy in terms of its readiness for a lot of modern plays, but it's a whole interesting, fascinating world that is also really important and will impact people quite a bit as things change around us.
So I feel like in California, and especially water gets top of mind when there's like a few years of drought and people feel it and then it like goes away and it's sort of like less top of mind. But water is like a very interesting, fascinating global issue that really smart people should be tackling.
So that's why I'll throw that out there.
Jason Jacobs: If you think about the state of a clean energy transition today, structurally, what are some of the biggest barriers holding it back and what are maybe one or two changes that stick out that if enacted, would most effectively accelerate this transition?
Robyn Beavers: One thing I think a lot about today is the workforce development.
Needs across government agencies, so like city and state agencies, and also even across the fields that are keeping things working all the time. So I'll use it more concretely. So with Blueprint, we obviously work with buildings. We're essentially turning the role of the onsite building manager from.
Being the life support of the bill to make sure things are working all the time and doing what it's supposed to do, but we're essentially turning it into a revenue center for the building. So that is a really fascinating dynamic shift in terms of talent and career. Path for people working on the ground, keeping these buildings alive, which is a very critical role in any building, no matter what today and will continue to be.
So that's like one specific example. Another example is we're loosely referring to regulatory a lot. There's different. Siloed regulatory worlds that impact things like distributed energy, assets of buildings. Obviously things like rules that utilities are regulated by, which is at the state level generally, but at the city level, you have agencies like the fire department or the department of buildings that need to like approve and permit things.
And when you're talking about new technology, it's usually like a technological decision. Or evaluation as much as it is like, is it meeting the rules of like the permitting process? And that's a whole new world. City. And see agencies need to develop divisions that are new technology focus and attract that talent and build that into how it works.
And so I see that as. A challenge in that slash opportunity for someone to solve and I think it would help move. That's one of the last, like big time lags on progress here is having that be a well oiled machine. So, and then there's other regulatory topics I could touch on. But I think there's a lot of that, like in between stuff that's not like, Oh, I'm a state.
I need a huge client at mandate. Let's do this. It's all the things that need to come together operationally to reduce the friction. Of that progress. There's still work to be done there.
Jason Jacobs: And final two questions. One is just if you had $100 billion and you could put it towards anything to best accelerate the clean energy transition, where would you put that money?
How would you allocate it?
Robyn Beavers: I don't think there's one right answer there. I do want to say I think a lot of ways capital has been deployed in the past has been working so more of it would probably help. It. Even more so a mix of government funded R, and D and the really hard problems, a mix of private capital going in to these types of avenues we're discussing today.
So in either more venture looking. Business plays tech and business plays, putting infrastructure funds together that are focused on owning the assets and looking at new business models across that. There has to be some kind of major regulatory shifts. So if it's. Applied towards lobbying to effectively price carbon the way it should be in the right way.
I think it's a mix. There's not one silver bullet there never has been, and I think if you just put more resources towards some of the things that are working, you would see a lot of great impact. And I'd probably focus on universities and education too, and make sure the right curriculum is being taught across campuses to look at more of systems oriented engineering.
And I dunno, it's starting to pop up across some universities, but a lot of this stuff isn't taught yet, so it needs to be taught.
Jason Jacobs: And last question is just for anybody listening to the show who, you know, maybe it's coming in from a more traditional software background or other places that just are lacking in deep domain expertise in these areas.
What's your advice for them in terms of figuring out where to plant and have the biggest impact.
Robyn Beavers: Oh, there's so many places it's going to be hard to ramp up. This whole conversation's point. It's complicated, right? So the best way to learn is just diving in and getting some stuff done, and you're going to figure out your own path.
There's so many different ways to contribute to this problem or this effort, this transition, and it's all going to be personal. It's gonna be personal based on your skillset, on your. Your own belief and how you think things are heading. It's a personal problem. You know? It's not like there's an answer that is the best answer for anyone to choose.
It's about where do you think you're going to learn the fastest people to contribute the most right away and be exposed to the constant change that's happening. I mean, I think that's the other thing about this is it is a transition. It's chaotic. It feels really good right now. Everyone's getting organized around it, but it might happen where there's a few more bumps in the road and there's another down cycle, or there's challenges we didn't foresee and it'll feel frustrating and discouraging.
I mean, that's happened in the clean energy industry at least twice already in the last 15 years, and you lose talent along the way, or you regained talent. And I think just being ready for like the reality of change is really important in whatever decision you make there. It needs so much talent. It's just a different mindset and it's thrilling and it's meaningful and there's so much to do and I think there's so much opportunity and there has been all along and now people are seeing it.
I guess just be ready for change. Whatever decision you make today to jump in. We'll be like starting all over again and you'll learn something new and you'll probably make a different decision later. It's a transition, so it'll be transitional for awhile.
Jason Jacobs: Anything I didn't ask you that I should have or any parting words for listeners?
Robyn Beavers: It's an important topic obviously, and it's a fascinating set of challenges and opportunities, and it's never been more dynamic than I would say today for the future of clean energy in particular, which is obviously like my focus and just embrace it as a world of unknown. There's not like one killer company to join or one perfect place to be.
It is all out there to be tackled and talent, creativity and open-mindedness is important. And also there has been a lot of great progress that has happened. There's a lot to learn from both good and bad. And so I would also say make sure to do that. A lot of these problems aren't solved, not because no one's been thinking about them.
So it's just also have respect for, I would say have respect for why we're even here today, where we can think about it in this way. It's the result of a lot of hard work and facing a lot of headwinds in the past. So that's the other piece I would say too.
Jason Jacobs: Great. Well, Robin, you've been a great guest. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Robyn Beavers: Yeah, thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun to talk to you today.
Jason Jacobs: Hey everyone. Jason here. Thanks again for joining me on My Climate Journey. If you'd like to learn more about the journey, you can visit us at My Climate Journey dot C O, know that is dot C O not dot com.
Someday we'll get the.com but right now, God see, Oh, you can also find me on Twitter @jjacobs22 where I would encourage you to share your feedback on the episode or suggestions for future guests you'd like to hear. And before I let you go, if you enjoyed the show, please share an episode with a friend or consider leaving a review on iTunes.
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