Sustainable Plastic from Seaweed – E70

Great to chat with Julia Marsh, Co-Founder & CEO at Sway, a company that is building a plastic-free future with the regenerative power of seaweed! We discussed the carbon sequestration power of seaweed, the negative environmental impacts of single-use plastics, how to alleviate guilt for the shopper, the reality of compostable products and more! 

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Thanks so much! 

James

The unedited podcast transcript is below

James McWalter: Hello today We’re speaking with Julia Marsh:   cofounder and CEO of SWAY. Welcome to podcast Julia!   brilliant I suppose to start could you tell us a little bit about sway.

Julia Marsh:     Hi James nice to be here. Absolutely so sway is tackling 1 of the biggest challenges facing our planet which is the plastic crisis which directly feeds into the climate crisis and how we’re doing this is utilizing this beautiful regenerative material which is seaweed. And creating ah replacements for packaging that are compostable that turn into healthy soil while simultaneously replenishing Ocean ecosystems I’m really excited to dive in with you.

James McWalter: And yeah, absolutely and so what drove that kind of initial decision to yeah, you know, basically use seaweed to develop a plastic substitute.

Julia Marsh:     Well a little background I’m a designer by trade and really looked at the plastic problem as a design challenge and I thought let’s look at every single. Alternative to plastics and specifically thin film plastics because they’re the most difficult to replace they gum up recycling machines. Um, they’re very difficult to find ah reusable solutions for wrappers and chip bags and and poly bags et Cetera. And let’s find the best possible alternatives and then improve them further and what I was seeing is that bioplastics have this immense potential but they are costly. They’re incompatible with existing infrastructure and they’re dependent on resources like corn and sugarcane. Which actually don’t make the planet a better place or are really necessary as a food crop. So let’s push beyond the existing you know limitations of bioplastics and find something better and that’s what led me to seaweed.

James McWalter: And so those kind of existing limitations. Um, you know you say they gum up to works and I guess I haven’t heard too many use cases of those other kind of alternatives who are using those or is that much of a market today. Um, and yeah, what what does that space look like.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah man, the Bioplastics market is enormous. Um, mostly you see bioplastics either used in rigid applications like cups and utensils. Maybe you go to a sweet green or an adjacent company and you’ll see that the. Fork is labeled as being compostable the other most common use case is for things like maybe the grocery store you know produce bag that green bag that’s labeled as being compostable when you order clothing online. Maybe it comes in a poly bag like 1 of those. Thin film bags sometimes and they go straight into the garbage. Yeah maybe the amazon mailer would be a great candidate for where you might want to use bioplastics and then all food packaging really struggles to find compostable replacements.

James McWalter: That that goes straight into the gar garbage every time right now.

Julia Marsh:     And these are the primary interest areas for me more so than the Rigid ones because there’s yeah, there’s very few solutions that can do it right.

James McWalter: And so you kind of came upon seaweed I suppose What are the kind of what was that journey like to find seaweed as a potential solution for the problem.

Julia Marsh:     So I became enraptured with this idea of regeneration. It’s like an age-old practice. It’s nothing new but increasingly brands and activists are focusing on the idea of regeneration that we can restore and replenish life on earth. And integrating that into new systems and products and so I wanted to understand what are the most powerful regenerative source materials on the planet and how can I integrate that into a new material a replacement for plastic packaging and so when you do that.

James McWalter: Sure.

Julia Marsh:     Kind of survey you land on trees you see mushrooms and you see algae and you get micro algae and Macro Algae and I grew up next to the ocean so immediately I’m into seaweed I understand generally how ocean ecosystems work and I knew there was some beautiful poetry of taking something. From the ocean and helping the ocean live and thrive by creating this new material.

James McWalter: Absolutely and I guess when you’re kind of going through that survey and you’re looking at mushrooms you’re looking at you know clium out of trees and and so on like what was that process where you talking to academics where you kind of talking to people within supply chain. Yeah I’d love to hear a little bit about how you research that.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah, 1 of the beautiful things about this industry is everyone’s so friendly and wants to talk about the work that they’re doing because it’s so dependent on collaboration. So whenever I would reach out to either. Yes, academics in the space material libraries like the folks at material connection in New York or just reaching out to the heads of these companies themselves. They’re more than willing to share what their journey was like what the stumbling moments were and what I might need to do in my position as a designer kind of entering this space to be successful.

James McWalter: And yeah I found that as well and I’ve mentioned a few times in the podcast that because these people are so friendly. Um, mainly because we’re just trying to get more people to work on these problems. Um, that people you know there’s a bit of vulnerability involved. But.

Julia Marsh:     Right.

James McWalter: You know having ah guess a little bit of an impetus to kind of reach out cold sometimes to people on Twitter or linkedin um, you know very rarely. You’ll you’ll never may never say never but you’re very rarely you get like a negative reaction. Um, you might just not get ignored but a lot of the time you will have people from pretty big companies say yeah I’d love to have a.

Julia Marsh:     Absolutely and I feel that oftentimes there’s this misconception that you need to be a materials engineer or you need to be a scientist to enter the climate space and that was not the case for me as ah at all outside of maybe.

James McWalter: Twenty minute chat.

Julia Marsh:     Leaving my ego at the door and acknowledging when I Definitely don’t know things and am underqualified to fully understand me to the chemistry but you know there’s a role that everyone has to play in the climate crisis and designers are especially well equipped to make these impossible. More novel futures visible for people and make them Attractive. So actually I was welcomed into these conversations because folks kind of recognize that.

James McWalter: Yeah, and actually if you go to this way website and we’ll link it in the in the show notes. Um I was very much struck by like the design aesthetic of the of the website. No absolutely and and and mainly because like when I think or the average purse I think thinks about like raw materials.

Julia Marsh:     Ah.

James McWalter: Um, and there’s just something to be I suppose ignored or in the background or something not thought of you know we have a disposable culture in many of these particularly around like single use plastics and so in general the people who are creating those don’t really want to like yeah highlight them right? as ah as a use because they just wanted those things that disappear and for people to forget about.

Julia Marsh:     Right.

James McWalter: The negative environmental impacts of those things and so I think you know I’ve seen a couple companies ah you know again? what what I think you’re doing from design point of view is really interesting. Um, but a few who are trying to like put make them make things look nice make things look you know like fascinating make things make people more curious about the actual things that go into.

Julia Marsh:     And.

James McWalter: You know as so as the the things we buy every day.

Julia Marsh:     It’s a wonderful design opportunity because all of a sudden especially during Covid when we’ve all been receiving so many packages to our homes and we’re inviting all these materials into our house for a brand to say to their customer. We care about you. We realize that.

James McWalter: But right? okay.

Julia Marsh:     You’re inviting these materials into your home. We’ve gone the extra mile and chosen a material that actually creates life that actually employs you know in our case in Sway’s case employs coastal communities and. Sequesters carbon and regenerates ocean health and encourages biodiversity. Oh and it’s going to turn into healthy soil at the end of its life what you’ve done all of a sudden is not just created a beautiful sort of tool to alleviate guilt for the for the shopper. But you’ve also enabled them to become a part of the climate movement and materials like plastics these basic building blocks of modern society are I think 1 of the best opportunities we have to do that to to make people feel like oh hey I can be It’s it’s not this inaccessible thing I can be a part of it too and I feel really good about myself.

James McWalter: Yeah, absolutely and I guess so you’ve kind of identified like seaweed. Um, what was that kind of initial you know Mvp or like starting to develop that mvp and what does that process look like.

Julia Marsh:     That was me in my kitchen mixing up seaweed extracts with various sort of plant-based additives and making really really horrible. Smelly films they were. They were ugly um, they curled up they smelled bad.

Julia Marsh:     I very quickly realized that I needed to bring in material engineers. It’s quite obvious in retrospect um and we partnered up with ah the usda as well as folks at the Berkeley school of Green chemistry to create more advanced prototypes.

And as we constantly constantly iterated we were able to get a really beautiful crystal clear film. That’s Odorless. It’s stronger than Ldpe. It’s got amazing heat ceiling Properties. You can adapt the opacity etc so it actually was quite a quick evolution of bringing in the right talent. Unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail because we’re currently filing a provisional patent for the formulation. Um, but yeah, it was. It was really quite ah, a beautiful and and rapid process going from.

Julia Marsh:     This ugly ugly film to something that’s perfectly clear and really high performance.

James McWalter: But I think like I think like that time spent in the kitchen right? I’m sure was invaluable right? because even though you know some very well-qualified people in a lab. You know it’s ah it’s definitely a more sophisticated process. It’s pretty similar process right? We’re trying to heat up things and cool down things and move things from different types of vessels.

Julia Marsh:     Right.

James McWalter: I Think especially you know I’m also coming from like a non-technical point of view and like starting technical companies like getting into the weeds like on my side. Yeah trying to do some coding and your side like in the kitchen you know, stirring some pots I think these are really important because you have to be able to engage with the with the technical team that you’re building and and I think like I Absolutely yeah, think that it duffly stands to companies and and. And to non-technical founders to get their you know Roltra sleeves at at times.

Julia Marsh:     I definitely empathize and admire that the skill set needed to do it Professionally yeah.

James McWalter: Um, so those 2 organizations you mentioned were they like looking for people and wanting to kind of work on these type of things or did you kind of reach out to them.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah, the the wonderful thing about especially the Usda is that they’re set up to help facilitate american investments in new materials or specifically the usda offices in Albany. Looking you know there are adjacent companies to ourselves who have gone through that program including Mango materials which is a ph a company and corramat which creates ah a corn-based foam.

James McWalter: Um, and so you know so seaweed you have this kind of formulation. You’re developing what are its kind of the pros and cons of it versus let’s say conventional. Um, you know film plastic.

Julia Marsh:     Right? So the wonderful thing about seaweed is that it is extremely abundant. It grows on every coastline in the world. 24 7 3 hundred and 65 days a year there’s seven million square kilometers. Seaweed growing today which is roughly equivalent to the size of the Amazon reed forest I think that’s a nice comparison and they’re roughly equivalent in their environmental contribution to the earth as well seaweed sequesters an insane amount of carbon some papers from harvard say seaweed can sequester up to 20 times more carbon.

Julia Marsh:     And per acre than trees. Um, but they also do all these beautiful ecosystem services. They encourage biodiversity by creating habitats for hundreds of species. They mitigate the effects of ocean acidification actually reversing the effects of climate change the more cwed plant. Healthier the ocean or the quality of the ocean will be. They are ecosystem architects as Well. They they help combat um erosion and they’re this amazing source of employment for coastal communities that have maybe been affected by overfishing or by climate Change. Seaweed itself is just the definition of a regenerative resource. It’s doing all this work. Um Fray of charge while also being wildly abundant and growing more quickly than land-based crops so seed grows twenty to 30 times faster than corner sugar cane and you don’t need land.

James McWalter: Right.

Julia Marsh:     You don’t need fresh water. You don’t need pesticides you just plant it and it grows So it’s a fantastic resource compared with the Fossil Fuel industry.

James McWalter: And in terms of let’s say the different types of seaweed. Um, you know some are I’m sure like more you know evolved to work within tropical waters versus Colder waters etc. Um is there particular types of seaweed that work. Best for the kind of process you’re building out.

Julia Marsh:     Ah, right. There are so we primarily work with 3 different species of seaweed and we’re always working to expand the the varieties of seaweed that we can work with. We never want to be too dependent on 1 species. We want wherever possible to encourage the diversification of ah farming practices. Because that creates a healthier ocean. There are beautiful regenerative ocean farms popping up all over the world. We primarily work with farms based in North and south america and yeah, you have. Well over ten thousand species of seaweed to choose from. So we’re just scratching the surface of what might be possible with with seaweed bile palmers.

James McWalter: And so let’s say once it kind of goes through this you know this process that you’re building out. That’s you know the core to your Ip and we have let’s say you know a conventional plastic film and and the sway plastic. Yeah, the seaweed-based film. Um, how do they so differ you know would somebody notice to the eye like what what does that kind of comparison look like so.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah, so visually. Our film looks basically identical to a traditional piece of plastic which can be a beautiful benefit because for instance, If. Ah, cosmetics company wants to sell their extremely gorgeous products. They want the customer to be able to see the the product in the bag and maybe if it was opaque or had some sort of tint that would be a hindrance to purchase. However, we’ve learned actually that customers respond or shoppers respond really? well. The material when it looks like it’s made from seaweed So when it’s tinted green or it has a texture because it gives a little bit of I Guess Social clout or there’s like a social reward for saying I’ve chosen a better material look at me, you know.

James McWalter: No absolutely it that that social pressure piece I think is something that is definitely underwede in a lot of climate startups trying to think through go-to markets. You know we.

Julia Marsh:     Letter.

James McWalter: You know we’re we’re human beings We We express things through what we wear and how we you know what we buy and all those kind of things and because so many things are now just like a pure kind of emar Ecommerce Play. Um, like. People don’t if they’re not getting the social like kudos right of having the book up on the wall or whatever it may be um I think sometimes we struggled and so I I think that makes a ton of sense in terms of having something that you know has the the look and feel of seaweed more so than conventional plastics.

Julia Marsh:     Right? It’s like it’s a great design Opportunity. There are so many different colors and textures that we can play with utilizing. What’s naturally found in different types of seaweeds and then in addition to that we’re looking at the different messaging that we can use to make again. Make people feel really great about this choice whether that’s being able to track exactly where this seaweed bag came from maybe the farmer who grew the seaweed that was used to make the bag again kind of reaffirming that connection between the person and the material they’re using or. Humans and nature and then also really assuring them that this is not some attempt at greenwashing that we’ve gone through the necessary actions to get this material properly tested and that it is in fact, home compostable such that you could mix it in with food scraps in your backyard compost. And it’s going to turn into healthy soil.

James McWalter: Yeah, that was actually the next question because we have you know, definitely on the production side. You know see we is this kind of net sequester of carbon relative definitely relative to petrochemicals going into pastek and then on the disposal side as you mentioned it’s this kind of home compostable. Um I guess 1 of the things with with any sort of kind of material science.

Julia Marsh:     Um, as a.

James McWalter: You know the the more composable It is the more I just open it is to ah degradation through the supply chain and and so how do you think about that balance I.

Julia Marsh:     Right? Man it’s such a fine line to walk. Yeah, so we are constantly treading this line and trying to find what are the absolute best applications for this material where it’s okay that when it’s exposed to heat. And moisture. It’s going to degrade very quickly. We found that retail bags and poly bags are a great first starting place. So that’s why we’re focused on working with brands like Target walmart and cbs to help replace the retail bag and we’re also focused on working with Apparel brands to find really great. Yeah partners who want their customers to engage with plastic- free packaging. Um, so that’s that’s a focus at the moment. The the degradation timeline is quite quickly right now and so we’re also constantly improving the formulation so that it can withstand higher humidity. And temperatures while in shipment but that when it does enter a compost environment. It’s going to degrade extremely quickly.

James McWalter: Yeah I could imagine this kind of a wedge of potential products that could be wrapped right in the in in the sway material and you you start at the at the area. That’s you know pretty high turnover. You know, used very rapidly and then over time as the formulation gets you know more stable. Um, from degradation point of View. You can kind of move into that like that that larger wedge of like every product in the world kind of thing eventually there you go.

Julia Marsh:     Exactly every product in the world. It’s an ecosystem we never would claim to be the Silver bullet or the 1 answer there are so many cool materials out there in new systems. A lot of the best climate solutions are just related to efficiency and and common sense.

James McWalter: And.

Julia Marsh:     So wherever we we make the most sense that’s where we want to deploy ourselves.

James McWalter: Understood and I guess yeah 1 of the as was difficulties with new materials is there’s typically a pretty sophisticated and well-established supply chain to move that material through so you know from constructing plastic to its molding.

Julia Marsh:     The.

James McWalter: And then being delivered on ships to you know the manufacturer and all those kind of things. How do you think about? let’s say fitting in versus disrupting parts of that supply chain to I suppose that have the greatest impact. So.

Julia Marsh:     Right? We want to create the lowest lift transition to using our material. We want to make it extremely easy for brands to work with us and that means we’ve designed our material to plug into existing plastic infrastructure and plastic. Companies a lot of them really are dying. They’re itching to bring in more sustainable materials that are compatible with their machinery plastic production is a well- oiled process. It’s ah that was a nice little pun I inserted there the actual you know? ah. Production of plastics from from pellet to film is quite efficient and and can be very low energy and there’s actually a path to decarbonizing that process. What’s missing is the material itself is not. Good for the planet at either end of life and so that’s how we kind of fill out this system um to be eventually fully decarbonized as well as fully regenerative.

James McWalter: That’s interesting. So you mentioned both the brands. But then also the I guess the plastic Manufacturers themselves and so are you you talking to? both? are you interested in potentially licensing to the plastics or working with brands who have more maybe of a vertically integrated model. How do you think about those kind of tradeoffs.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah, at least to start. We’re just again focused on getting our material in the hands of brands and and in the hands of shoppers because we really want to get that data back about how people interact with the material are they Composting. It does any of this seaweed Story Resonate. Um. So to begin with. We’re going to be working with contract Manufacturers in the future. It may be the case that we do vertically integrate and either we work directly more directly with seaweed farms to refine and extract the useful parts of that seaweed or we produce our own um resin that can be distributed to plastic Manufacturers and that’s sort of a ah. To be determined decision.

James McWalter: Absolutely and I just what are those kind of next you know next 1224 months time you know Milestones that you’re hoping to can reach.

Julia Marsh:     We’re focused on pilots we we were the winners at the Beyond the bag challenge which is how we’ve come to. Thank you really amazing experience. It was sponsored by ideo closed loop and then the consortium to reinvent the bag which included Target walmart cbs and a number of other global retailers.

James McWalter: Congrats.

Julia Marsh:     So what? that’s enabled us to do is really understand in ah in a micro level what these brands need us to achieve in order to adopt our material so over the course of the next couple of years. We’ll be working for pilots with those folks and then we’ll also be launching smaller scale pilots with apparel and cosmetic companies. And then the other big thing is we always constantly want to be achieving the highest level of certification. Not just related to the compostability of the material but also the nutrient quality of the material this idea that we could actually add again benefit to. Soil when the material decomposes and how well the the source material is certified as important as well. So there are all these emerging standards around ocean forestry that we’re really excited to hit partake in such as. This sort of fsc certified equivalent for ocean forests called the asc msc seaweed standard and expanding fair trade practices for the seaweed industry which is like very quickly growing so those are 2 focus areas I would say.

James McWalter: On that latter point. So what are the other kind of use cases for seaweed and I guess is there enough supply on the seaweed side. You know if were more and more different types of use cases are now turning to seaweed that we need to see a massive ramp up. You know the Amazon size you know area. Do we need. More than that. How do you think about that.

Julia Marsh:     So currently seaweed is primarily used in food or as a thickening agent in different pharmaceuticals or cosmetic products. There is more than enough seaweed seaweed is not the issue. Challenge in the bottleneck that we’ll run into is the processing capacity of those yeah existing seaweed processors so we will eventually you know at least in our current projections in about five years we’ll need to see growth with our current network. Expanding the capacity of yeah processing the seaweed but there’s quite a lot of ocean and the main limitation is yeah, not the seaweed.

James McWalter: No. Yeah, it’s interesting because you mentioned the carbon sequestration power of seaweed and I know there are a few companies who are looking at just seaweed as a pure carbon sequester so grow a ton of seaweed cut it allow it to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Hopefully it’ll stay there for at least a few decades and that’s a potential method. You know.

Julia Marsh:     Here. And.

James McWalter: But that’s to be honest I think that’s the big question right? It’s like we don’t we know so little about you know what happens you know below a mile below the surface that you know do these things kind of stay down there. Um, and so it is interesting where you have a number of people kind of re-looking at something that you know people have been using for.

Julia Marsh:     Is it.

James McWalter: 10000 years for different types of materials in these kind of new ways to combat you know the the climate crisis.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah,, there’s wonderful opportunities eventually for us to develop simile systems or to partner with farms that are trying to build out you know Kelp or seaweed related carbon Offset Programs. Science is constantly evolving and of course we would also want to focus on the farmer themselves benefiting from that um system. So It’s something we’re keeping our eye On. We’re also want to maximize the amount of carbon sequestered by our material itself and. Creating the best pathway for it to actually be composted so that we’re not sending it to landfill and further contributing to other sorts of emissions. Um, but something cool that I didn’t mention before is that when our material goes to landfill if it does it emits and these are based on our just our initial projections. But it is. It’s projected to emit eighty eight percent less C O 2 equivalent emissions in a landfill than paper which is something I thought was so wonderful and unexpected because you know whenever we’re considering any of these replacements for plastics 1 way that plastic does win is in the C O 2 equivalent emissions.

James McWalter: Right? It just stays there forever right? And so it it never actually goes into the atmosphere.

Julia Marsh:     In landfill? Um, so yeah, right? So that was 1 kind of great if you’re comparing paper to seaweed we win in that category.

James McWalter: Yeah, that’s fascinating and and super interesting and I guess you know there is this kind of balance between um, yeah, personal and I guess institutional or or commercial behavior around where the material ends up going right? And so.

Julia Marsh:     Um, ah.

James McWalter: Yeah, there’s a lot of cool companies, comassing companies and so on and so we also have to I guess Collectively have a lever around changing behavior to actually you know.

Julia Marsh:     You have.

James McWalter: Put it into the compost or learn about how to kind of dispose properly of these things as we kind of add materials that just don’t go into a landfill or shouldn’t be going just into a landfill and.

Julia Marsh:     Yeah, it shouldn’t feel at least composting behavior shouldn’t feel alien or like an exclusive process someone in a city can compost. You know in their own home with ah with a bucket and a carbon filter. It’s actually. Ah, quite easy to do and the wonderful thing about it is we divert. Yeah, all this food from landfill and all those additional carbon equivalent emissions and there is increasing compost infrastructure. It’s sort of an inevitability. You know, recycling infrastructure’s only really been around since the Seventy s compost infrastructure is. Inevitably going to scale and be more accessible to more people.

James McWalter: And you mentioned a bit earlier about you know during Covid we got used to a lot of packages of various types showing up at the home and besides that you also have this kind of um, you know because of fears of cleanliness and so on people I think got very used to or begin more positively. Came to more positively view disposables of of various types right? kind of a health point of view. How do you think about that like is that going to be something that’ll take a little while to go back to what have been before which was like a kind of ah a move towards us disposables. Um, and yeah, how do you think Covid I guess changes The space.

Julia Marsh:     A.

Julia Marsh:     That’s an interesting question I think more than anything we are programmed to desire convenience and who can blame us and I think that what. Solution We’ve developed represents is a pathway to still provide a very convenient solution to the shopper. Not necessarily asking folks like yourself or anyone else to do anything wildly outside of the ordinary but to engage with composting behavior and. Make it as easy as possible for you to do the right thing just by swapping out the material and I think that’s a great opportunity that brands have like I was mentioning before that brands have this great opportunity to enable guilt free shopping by by subbing out their plastic packaging. Um. But I don’t think it’s impossible that we might return to the milkman and always have you know, reusable packaging for our bottles and and our bags I think that’s entirely feasible.

James McWalter: Yeah, and I guess I goes into this concept of circular economy nearly by definition circular economies become more localized right? because the transit is such like ah becomes a larger factor the more circular the the economy I guess and so if you can make that transport piece tighter.

Julia Marsh:     The earth.

James McWalter: Um, especially if it’s going back to the same place from where it began. Um, you have this kind of you know your like scalability kind of reverses in these interesting ways.

Julia Marsh:     Right? Yeah and I think just another piece because you hinted at it when we talk about circular systems or closed-loop systems so often we focus on mechanical recycling and I think oftentimes we we forget about biological recycling and that’s what compost infrastructure represents.

James McWalter: And.

Julia Marsh:     Opportunity to feed into other aspects of the regenerative movement by creating healthy soil more nutrient-rich soil which is responsible for like all life on earth.

James McWalter: Absolutely yeah I guess I guess even the way I was describing. It was very much a literal circle right? like the same thing starts an end in the same place and with a few different kind of steps but it’s definitely something much more akin to you know, rebuilding an ecosystem of sorts right? where you have tons and tons of inputs and tons ons of outputs become inputs.

Julia Marsh:     As a.

James McWalter: And basically ah like an interweb of yeah things like ah, any ecosystem whether you know it’s a field in the west of Ireland or the rainforest or like you know, ah seaweed off the coast of Carmel Um, you know, ah like yeah right? So like if you look at those like all the inputs and outputs are constantly kind of like interacting at each other.

Julia Marsh:     Right.

Julia Marsh:     Isn’t it.

James McWalter: And I guess I also fall into that kind of engineering mindset of a circle being a circle and not a lot else outside of it. Yeah.

Julia Marsh:     It’s a multi-ringed Venn Diagram Probably I love solutions for the climate crisis that tackle multiple issues at the same time and what I love about our solution in particular and many of the emerging sort of benevolent materials in the space is that. We’re addressing not just the climate crisis not just the plastic problem. But also all these social injustices that have emerged as a result of the climate crisis and so the more we can find solutions that democratize access to benevolent materials I Just think that the more we bring it humanity into the conversation. Which again is also very often overlooked.

James McWalter: Absolutely and you mentioned kind of going through some of these certifying kind of processes and I guess 1 of the difficulties that the average consumer has I guess is figuring out what all these potential labelings or you know is fair trade. Okay anymore we don’t know anymore you know like all these kind of things.

James McWalter: Um, how do you think about like the balance of give oversupplying information to a consumer who often are making a relatively snap judgment and really at the end often. The consumer just is like is this the guilt-free decision or not right. And so I myself couldn’t go back and forth. But yeah I’d love to hear your thoughts On. Um yeah, labeling and of packaging and things like that. So.

Julia Marsh:     Well specifically with packaging and specifically with compostables. There are some very frequent yeah confusing labels that make it really difficult for someone to do the right thing if something says it’s 1 hundred percent compostable that does not mean that it’ll degrade in your backyard. And it doesn’t mean that it’s made only from plants. It just means that it’s industrially compostable and composting is binary. It’s either 1 hundred percent or it’s not at all so saying it’s 1 hundred percent compostable is not a further like reassurance. Um, and I think. Yeah, oftentimes the materials that we’re interacting with that are available to us that are labeled as being compostable are only part biobase. They’re not even 1 hundred percent dependent on plants. They can still have petroleum-based binding agents integrated in them which means you’re not actually breaking free from plastics or the fossil fuel industry. Um. There’s also yeah, this opportunity to yeah, better label the actual time span that a material might degrade in ideal conditions. So increasingly I’d like to see labeling that very quickly tells the shopper without them having to think too much about it. This is going to decompose in 4 to 6 weeks. It’s. Ah, carbon-neutral or its carbon Negative. It’s made from x y and z materials. In our case, seaweed and plants. Um, and maybe even if they do care it was it was you know, cultivated or produced under fair trade conditions and those are the four major. Points I would look out for although we can we can add more the more information I generally think the better.

James McWalter: Sure on just that um and so I guess you know if I think about ah the more people and we talked about this little bit at the very beginning but like you know we want more people working on these problems while more people doing interesting things often. It is there are these barriers. Entry both real and often perceived right? We talked about you know this perception. You need to be scientists or this perception that you need to yeah have worked in the industry for 30 years or whatever it may be um, let’s say you know I was a next or there was a person who’s like the next generation analog of you know what? you’re what you’ve been doing over the last few years.

Julia Marsh:     Um, here.

James McWalter: And what’s kind of advice. You tell that person get started.

Julia Marsh:     I would say that the network that you have available to you multiplies so quickly as soon as folks learn you’re trying to make the planet a better place from a practical. Perspective. So I think the more practically grounded and the more intersectional your solution is the more likely folks are to help you and the biggest thing that I learned early on which I hinted at earlier was i. Need to to become very good at admitting when I did not know something or fully understand something that humility made it much easier for me to learn and to bring in the right people to help and then the other thing I would recommend is that you bring in talents which really well complement yourself. So. I’m a designer I love to make beautiful objects I love to communicate stories. But I don’t necessarily have a granular understanding of seaweed chemistry. So I brought in the talent and the skill set as quickly as possible to round out my own skillset. Have 2 amazing co-founders who complement me very well. My co-founder Matt has a background in sustainable Development. He’s worked with public and private companies expanding their triple bottom line has a really robust sense of what needs to go into a lifecycle assessment my other co-founder leland mashmere was the former chief brand officer at Giboni he’s built. Global brands. He understands executive leadership. He understands how to you know, build a massive company that’s going have massive scale. So I’m really thankful for those skillets and I could go through the whole team but we won’t do that now.

35:32.79   James McWalter: And yeah, no, and it’s great. It’s great to to kind of mention those cofounders you know it’s it’s so such an interesting kind of set of relationships and how those develop over the years and you know all the best companies like have really strong like early relationships and and that kind of trust that kind of goes from there. Um.

Julia Marsh:     Over.

James McWalter: I mean it is you know I guess the thing that I find ah people which kind of touches upon your your previous point. Um that I find catches people up is that either people you know don’t talk enough about what they’re thinking right? or are talk so much. They don’t listen.

James McWalter: Right? And like these are 2 kinds of spectrums are 2 2 side of the same spectrum I guess and so on on the first point which I get your man like like I tell people all the time if you have an idea like just tell tell people about it just hey I have ah you know do you know anybody who knows anything about seaweed.

Julia Marsh:     Um, yeah, that happened. Um, let a.

James McWalter: It’s like oh you know my cousin Susan like has ah you know she was ah a Ph.D. in seaweed like in Norway or whatever maybe and like all of a sudden you have that connection and if you keep it to yourself or um, yeah, you don’t get there but equally on the other side I think like asking those questions like.

Julia Marsh:     Ah, address.

James McWalter: You know when you actually then get into the room with the expert. It’s just asking questions. It’s like really you know you can give your 1 minute spiel or your 1-minute pitch and so on. But I always find that it’s so helpful to just like go in and you know be but well prepared with like the 5 questions like you would love to have answers with and like. If you knew the answers those they would move you 1 Step forward to like having a real product or a real company.

Julia Marsh:     Yep, absolutely and then walking away from that conversation saying or maybe understanding what ah you know the 3 things that this person I’ve just met really loves to do and would be willing to continue helping me with and having this. Network of advisors that you can just immediately call on is really really helpful because building a business especially in the climate space can be very isolating sometimes and I drive so much comfort from yeah, connecting with other founders and yeah and with another climate. Enthusiasts and cried, enthusiasts. It makes you feel a lot less alone.

James McWalter: It just on the kind of aloneness then I guess do you think kind of climate is lonelier than some of these other spaces or how do you think about that.

Julia Marsh:     Well I don’t know because I I guess I can’t compare it to anything else. No I think that it I misspoke The challenge is so great and the potential and the urgency of these solutions is so great that it can feel at times Like. You’re you know, working on a never-ending problem so seeking out these kinds of friends and and and advisors yeah can help you feel less alone in the fight against the climate crisis.

James McWalter: Right.

James McWalter: Yeah I guess that’s why I think you know you mentioned this earlier but like why people are so friendly. It’s like I think you go through this process of like oh no like semi despair. That’s just too big for 1 person and then it’s like oh I literally need everybody I need competitors.

Julia Marsh:     Ah, right.

James McWalter: Right? Like you know I need at every point like we need 20 million people like changing their lives like tomorrow to work on some of these things just have a chance of um, you know something close to success and so yeah, go on. Yeah.

Julia Marsh:     Um, is a. Oh It’s yeah, it’s very freeing actually that I can approach most if not all of our competitors and say hey let’s be friends you want to figure this out together. Um, but that’s overall been the theme. Especially in the seaweed space. But I imagine throughout the climate space as well.

James McWalter: No absolutely and I was working on a kind of agtech idea like a year year and a half ago and I just contacted every ah competitor in the space and like ninety percent of them got on a call me I was like I’m competing with you you know? and so on I ended up not working on that idea too much longer, but it was fascinating how yeah open people were because.

Julia Marsh:     Enter.

James McWalter: Pretty much everyone was like all right? We just you know even if we become a billion dollar company. We need a hundred more just to to like tackle the problem Julia Marsh:   does but absolutely brilliant I suppose before we finish off is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.

Julia Marsh:     Right? This is.

Julia Marsh:     Oh boy? Well, we are hiring currently. So if anyone listening happens to know an incredible Ph.D. Biopolymer scientist. We’re looking for a very senior role to help.

James McWalter: Bright.

Julia Marsh:     Expand our engineering team and we’re hiring actively at this moment. So our job descriptions are listed at our website Swayfuturecom/careers would be the biggest help.

James McWalter: Absolutely and we’ll post that link on the show notes as well. Julia Marsh:   Thank you so much has been brilliant.

Julia Marsh:     I Really appreciate it. Great to meet you and great to have this conversation.

Can your boiler generate electricity for your house? – E69

Great to chat with Tony Pan, CEO of Modern Electron, a sustainable heat and power technology company that helps buildings and homeowners save money, reduce carbon emissions, and increase resiliency during power outages! We discussed energy efficiency, technology that converts heat into electricity, the carbon footprint associated with heating systems, decarbonizing buildings and more!

Can your boiler generate electricity for your house? – E69

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon  
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Thanks so much! 

James

The unedited podcast transcript is below

James McWalter:        Hello today we’re speaking with Tony Pan: CEO at Modern electron welcome to podcast Tony.                                                                            

Tony Pan:       Hello everybody.                                                                                                                      

 James McWalter:        I suppose to start with. Can you tell us a little bit about Modern electron.                                                                                                

Tony Pan:       We are an energy technology company based in Seattle USA and we work at an interface of sustainable heat and power.                                                                                                       

James McWalter:         And and what drove that initial decision to start Modern electron.                                                                                                                

Tony Pan:       So I’m trained as a physicist and it’s been very clear with that kind of educational background that energy is a single best predictor of quality of life and was really the driver of human civilization that was what the whole industrial revolution was about and so yeah” as you can. Literally plots a quality of life with energy and as the quality of life increases. Basically, the difference between us and our ancestors in the time of ah Queen Elizabeth is that we now use a Hundred times more energy per person and yet we’re. Toasting the planet and so we need to find a way to use pretty much the same amounts of energy for everybody on the planet to enjoy the same quality of life and somehow do that in a way that does that doesn’t destroy the environment so that was the founding goal right about specifically how the company got started was. I worked with a deep tech incubator I was very interested in energy in Seattle and we decided to look together at the problem of heat into electricity conversion.

James McWalter:         So that that point about the link between energy and the prediction of kind of quality of life. ” this is like a kind of fascinating topic. It was why the west won book that ah kind of has these incredible charts about the amount of energy that the average human being used 2000 years ago 1000 years ago ah ten years ago etc and how that kind of exponential curve occurred and you also sometimes see people kind of have these quizzes. would you go back 500 years ago and be the Queen of England or whatever may be versus ah like a middle-class person in the west today or a middle class person and developed country today and. Very few people want to go back because for 1 thing you didn’t even have hot running water I was just like ah  the center living which is so so different even for the very very wealthy and so that kind of great equalizer that yeah know more ubiquitous energy as brash is this kind of fascinating kind of aspect of Underer society. So that makes a ton of sense. Did you mention the? Ah yeah this kind of deep tech piece. Yeah so I suppose  what is the kind of core science that you were working on and when you started in the lab. So.                          

Tony Pan:       So we actually started with the problem statement first which is 80 percent of all electricity generated on the planet is generated from heat when you think about some fancy part plant whether it’s ah old coal-fired power plant. There’s also gas ones and even if when you think about something advanced like nuclear and there are lots of nuclear fission power plants around the world today and people are working on nuclear fusion which is supposed to be 1 of the holy grails so wides span of different technologies some using the most advanced tech that humanity has right like nuclear fusion. People trying to make that work at the end of the day. All they’re doing is generating heat from their fuel source and then what happens in a park plant is then you use that heat to boil water to generate steam and that steam ah basically pushes on a big fan and spins a big magnet. And that part of the technology is a steam engine which you are probably familiar with from the all the history books on the industrial revolution. well the steam engine is alive and well today the modern example is called a steam turbine which was invented 1 hundred and 30 years ago and the steam. Turbine alone generate eighty percent of all electricity on the planet. So that’s that’s why we decided to look into this and say hey is there any new technology that would work better in several attributes because anything that does that would be a civilizational skill contribution to humanity.”                                                                                                         

James McWalter:         And every single 1 of those steps that you mentioned like the efficiency issues are massive right? So you start with ”          ? let’s say a pure energy ah in the form of Electron ah like as potential energy and by the time you get to the end this conversion to heat and back and forth heat to steam to all these kind of things. How much efficiency is left at the end like how much energy is actually still retained at the end of that entire process and.                                                                                          

Tony Pan:       On average the power plants efficiency is about One third so you put 3 units of fuel in you get 1 unit of fuel so energy out as electricity. The remainder 2 thirds escapes as heat up the smokestack. Of the power plant. But here’s the irony and this will get into what modern electrons specifically does. But so when we do this conversion right? We produce both heat and electricity at a part plant. We actually use a lot of heat in our civilization you use heat to heat your homes in winter. You use heat in your industrial plants fifty percent of final energy demand as heat and yet we’re throwing all this heat away apart plant 2 two-thirds of the energy. We just throw it away. Why is that because heat cannot be transported long distance so we built these large central park plants. But we throw away all the heat and then in our homes and buildings. We still burn additional fuel such as gas would to generate that heat again. So we’re doubling up because of all this efficiency loss.”                                                                                                           

James McWalter:         Yeah” and people suppose want to have a picture in their mind of   an example of this massive heat Loss.      a lot of people think about nuclear power plants as having these big kind of Chimneys with things kind of spearing out but the entire purpose of those Chimneys is just to dissipate dissipate the excess heat. Basically right. And so we have  any major power plant.. There’s just a ton of ah mechanisms set up a machinery setup just to dissipate the heat and get the heat basically into the atmosphere where can   just not be utilized by anybody at all. So yeah   and absolutely this is a kind of a massive problem.     and so how  you kind of zoomed in on that core problem.    what were the initial kind of  initial ways you sought to solve that problem.

Tony Pan:       So we surveyed a bunch of existing technologies out in the world. They’re generally called heat engines. But basically things that converts heat into useful work or useful electricity and in particular we look at technologies that what people consider solid a state. So not the mechanical engines that were first invented in the industrial revolution but things that are closer to material science. Ah semiconductor technology that directly converted heat into electricity without any moving parts without any motion. So not like a mechanical engine. We looked at a bunch and then eventually ah chose 1 that seemed right for our. Write for a breakthrough that was the thermonic converter which is this actually pretty old technology 50 years old and it used to be used in satellites in space. They used to par defense satellites because they had this magical attribute that they can produce a lot of power. From a very very small vole so it fits very well with satellites that needed to be small but somehow needed a law of electricity. So they’re the most par dense heat to electricity converter known to mankind. Plus they never require any maintenance because they have no moving parts.”                                                                                                          

James McWalter:         And so that so that that kind of core piece of technology.   what were your kind of initial experiments around that to potentially build a product out of.                                                                                            

Tony Pan:       Yeah” so if you can crack heats into electricity. This can be used in so many applications not just part plants right? but actually 1 of the things that we were most focused on is we don’t believe the future is going to be power plants a centralized park plant. Whenever you do that necessarily It’s inefficient because there is no local user of the energy. So. That’s why you first have to build a trillion dollar transmission grid to get electricity where it needs to go right? We have I think 6 million miles of transmission and distribution lines in a usa alone and also because you’re not next to the end user. You have to throw away your heat even though the heat is valuable because there is no way to transport heat. So we believe the future is going to be distributed generation which means you want a lot of small mini power plants where people already are and so some of the key things that we had innovate is to make sure that this technology. Would be able to integrate with the fuel sources that are already ubiquitous in our buildings where people will live and work like we spend ninety percent of our time of the time we are alive within buildings and in particular for example         most of us already have a half a par plant where we live. Especially if you’re in a ah    cool or cold climate in winter you have half of our part plants because you have a boiler a hot water heater or a furnace. You have the fuel coming in oftentime. It’s natural gas some people use ah fuel or wood but you already have the fuel. You’re already burning it. Ah you have already half of the park plant infrastructure. There. All you need is a way to convert heat into electricity locally and so a lot of the work. We’ve done with the technology is figure out how we can be compatible with those existing ah heating appliances and those heat sources from these fuels.                                                                

James McWalter:         And okay”       this this is fascinating so  let’s say I’ve ah  I have a boiler  I have ah my own home.  I have like a boiler so  ah I’m the only person you really have to kind of I guess deal with and I am like my electricity bill is way too high and        especially in in different times a year and I am using  wooden coal I have a wood burning fireplace I have a boiler. Whatever may what? what would be the process. What would be the I guess the onboarding to get kind of get the let’s just talk with the boiler piece but what would the onboarding to kind of get the most use out of a modern electron. Yeah.                                                                             

Tony Pan:       Yeah” so there’s the business model side and there’s the technology side. Let me just cover the business model first to give us yeah simpler contact because the tech gets into nitty grity details. But long story short we are working with the major heating appliance companies in the world. So we have partnerships already underway with major furnace makers and boilermakers to integrate our technology within their appliance. So think this is like an intel inside model. Ah they will incorporate our technology sitting completely inside your furness and boiler. So that as a home user there is nothing new from the outside. It takes the same footprint There’s no additional maintenance. There’s no additional install. And basically whenever you replace your future fer a boiler the next generation that comes in it just behaves like a normal furnace and boiler from your standpoint except for the fact that whenever you turn it on ah produces you bonus electricity and that means you no longer need to buy as much electricity from the grid this saves you money. And because it’s more efficient it lowers the seal to 2 footprint plus you have but you have some energy independence now right? since you’re producing a bit of your own power. This gives you some blackout proof capabilities and in fact  this is pretty important in the usa in particular because our grid is not. Super stable. You’ve probably seen this other news nine million homes in the last winter season lost par for more than a day straight and the irony is even though as you mentioned right? You run most of your heat from these fuels whether it’s wood or natural gas but for a lot of these heating appliances especially natural gas furnaces. That’s the. That’s by far the most common appliance even though the gas is still there if you have a blackout you lose your heat because the the furnessce right? It’s ah it’s still of appliance like all our players at home. It needs electricity to run too. So when you lose your electricity you lose your heat. A hundred people died in texas if you remember the last winter season they froze to death when the electricity grid wents out just just this last winter and ah even if you that’s very tragic. But even when that doesn’t happen way way more homes have massive damage right? like where water pipes freeze they burst. And then that’s ten thousand dollars in Damages so our tech can prevent all that and that’s sort of how we’re bringing the technology to market by basically working with the furnace and Boiler makers. So that our techs already inside whenever you go and buy a new 1.                                                                      

James McWalter:         Understood and in terms of I suppose let’s get into technical bit and then I have a few questions but there was this model but I think I think learning a bit but the technical bit would be helpful and so ”      how does it I guess then gets the convert yeah electron electricity in a way that  .                                                                                  

Tony Pan:       Yeah” yeah.                                                                                             

James McWalter:         My my home could actually benefit from so.”                                                                                                         

Tony Pan:       Yeah” so what’s really going on is that we are converting the high grade heats. That’s currently being wasted within your furnace and boiler today into electricity and then ah we come that conversion results in some. Lower temperature heat but our lower temperature heat is still hot enough to be completely transferred into your home and still hot enough to heat the rest of your home. So what’s really going on is if you look inside your furnace. Ah there is some fuel being burned and let’s say it’s a natural gas furnace. Ah that fuel is burning at a flame temperature of think 1400 to 1500 celsius it’s this incredibly hot. It’s what ah people in thermal engineering called high grade heat. This is the heats that normally in a park plants would be used. To drive our steam engine to to move things and learn to generate useful electricity. That’s high quality energy right? there the real big problem we face in our civilization today. The real big waste is that that flame is. Very hot right? but actually infernace is a boiler today lay let that high grade heat degrade and lose most of its useful energy content by cooling down until it’s much below 1 hundred celsius before it goes around to heat your air and hot water. That temperatures drop is typically what’s using in power plant to generate electricity but you can’t shrink a steam turbine in a power plant down to the size of something that fits inside your furnace and Boiler this is why we’re letting that high- grade heat going to waste today. It’s not some kind of conspiracy is because we don’t have tech. To puts a power plant inside your furnace but the magical thing about the thermonic converter is we make it we can make it work even when it’s small james can’t see me although you on the videoca but I’m holding 1 of our prototypes james can see this but it literally fits into the palm of my hand this is something that is. Very small can generates a lot of power from a small device and that’s really 1 of the magics of this new technology. The fact that it’s small. That’s why we can enable this when no 1 else has tried. This has been a holy grail for like a century but we basically just put this right next to the flame inside your furnace. Absorbs a high temperature heat and converts some of that into electricity and then the rest goes into lower temperature heat. But ah        we’re still rejecting heat at about several hundred celsius so over Heats is still useful enough to heat your home heat your water.                                                                

Tony Pan:       And therefore the combined efficiency is a hundred percent.”                                                                                                      

James McWalter:         Its”     Fascinating and I can confirm for the listener that yes it definitely fit in Tony’s palm of his hand.         it was kind of the size of like a like a snickers bar or something that was coming along those lines.      okay  that’s that’s fascinating and and then so it’s it’s kind of it’s taking in that heat. It’s.  you’re going from thousands of degrees to hundreds of degrees So you’re still getting that benefit for your home and that differentiator is being converted or some portion of that differentiation is being converted into electrons and electricity and how did that electricity then get into my actual home and do I need a smart thermostat or what is that kind of Mechanism. So.                                           

Tony Pan:       So we are intentionally targeting electricity generation below a baseload electricity meaning that we’re trying to stay below the the the usual ah bottom curve of your electricity demand. And that means we are not selling electricity back into the grid and that’s very important because that means your your furness already has an electrical plug usually going into the electrical main panel. So we can actually just use the same war and feed electricity back at your home through that circuit. Because we don’t need to sell electricity back into the grid we’re trying trying very hard not to ah first of all”     you don’t get paid a lot to do that nowadays. What is called feed-in tariffs the the price you can charge your utility by sending electricity back in the grid that used to be very high when folks were subsidizing solar all that has dropped by a factor of 10 so we. We’re not goingnna monetize that we’re just going to shave off to the man you need to buy from a grid and because we don’t need to do that. You don’t need to install what is’s called a 2 wo-way meter anymore. Ah your panel and so this greatly simplified install. So think your furness usually already has like a wire that goes into the circuit. And we’re just shipping electricity to reverse direction back into your home.                                                                                              

James McWalter:         And so in that moment Let’s say I turn on my toaster.  and my energy usage in the home just slightly bps up a small amount.  are the electrons that are coming back from the boiler through your device are those potentially being used by the the toaster in that moment or.”                                                                                                             

Tony Pan:       Yeah” potentially     let me clarify a few things. So definitely any energy you produce in your own home is going to be used first. Ah        that’s the electricity that’s used first. Ah by the home this is the same for solar panels.                                                           

James McWalter:         Ah”    yeah I guess I’m so a little bit unclear about that. Yeah.                                                                                    

Tony Pan:       Ah”    to our technology combined heat and power furnaces and it’s that ah happens almost automatically it’s it’s like a water flow analogy where I think the power plant is let’s say it’s water as a very tall dam and then we’re much closer to you and we’re like a water reservoir much closer to you. And so whenever you turn on your tab. You’re going to draw watchher from like us ah us at any closer source first and anything that we don’t fill. Ah it’s going to come from the power plants the Dam a higher energy potential. So that that that process happens automatically. I do want to clarify due to the fact that modern electron we are targeting to serve and shape off your bas old electricity generation. We can keep your heat running. We can keep your lights on your refrigerator running. Ah the the things that occur all the time right. We’re probably not. We’re intentionally probably not going to help when you plug in your hair dryer your vacu cleaner. We’re not serving the Peaks so that’s still coming from the grid or if you have a home battery with some solar. Maybe it’s coming from that.                                                                     

James McWalter:         And so in that’s an scenario you outlined earlier where you actually had a local power outage. You could basically just have a situation where  Maybe you’re not using your hair dryer but you can ? still                    use your laptop. You can solve the lights on .                                                                

Tony Pan:       Yeah” from what we understand the nber 1 thing people need is heat because that’s life threatening and then apparently second is like wifi on your laptop which of course like we can do a land and then fridge right? and some lights.                                                                                                 

James McWalter:         That kind of thing.”                                                                                                                  

James McWalter:         So there. We go. I on just and said and you mentioned yeah the kind of current go to Markete is and business strategy is to have these installed in new furnaces and boilers and so on.”                                                                                                                

Tony Pan:       That’s we we keep we keep you alive.”                                                                                                           

James McWalter:         What about retrofitting have you looked at that at at all up from the existing kind of build out of these devices right.”                                                                                                          

Tony Pan:       Technologically it’s possible but we decided that was it was more elegant as a startup for us to work with these big companies and have them installed in ah and into their new products that they’re manufacturing and it just comes down to the fact that. Ah” we were go to door to door down your neighborhood right? The furnace you might have a furnace that’s 5 years ago your neighbor might have ah firmness that’s ten years ago and the insides will look a little bit different and as a startup now we have to carry a bunch of different skews to fit into all these different furnaces and that just going to increase the complexity. And early cost. So it’s much more elegant for us to make this as part of new heating appliances and by the way 85 percent of heating appliances roughly speaking go into. Ah what is called the retrofits of the home. So. It’s not going so it’s going to existing homes to replace. Old appliances that have stopped working and you need to buy a new appliance that’s the majority of all heating appliance sales so that’s really what we’re targeting existing buildings that are replacing their heating appliance.                                                                                               

James McWalter:         And what about. How do you think about some of the other kind of emergent technology in the kind of home heating space things like heat pps that are kind of much more ah well are fully kind of electricity-driven.   for those who aren’t familiar with it. It’s kind of like ah”          an inverse air conditioner that ah can blow blow boat cold and hot.            with varying kind of degrees of efficiency. But that’s kind of basic principle. How How do you think about those types of touch technologies compared to yours.                                                                                    

Tony Pan:       Oh they’re great. We basically see that the market’s going to bifurcate so this is a topic I’m pretty passionate about because we had to think a lot about this and our go-to market strategy and of course this is also a top of mind of or our partners so our partners there they h fact of plans makers they make both but basically this is what’s going on if you have both heat a reasonable like look basically your winters are not cold and your smers are hot and you need to buy our air conditioner anyways”      then a heats pp technology. Especially the modern kind that is bi-directional which means in smer it can cool and the same appliance can reverse direction and do heating in the winter then you get 2 birds with 1 stone and if you’re in a warm climate. This is pretty awesome. You should get that the retrofit costs can be a bit expensive. But if you’re arizona and you can stomach the payback period it works out great. Also if you’re frankly     if you’re in a new building. So if you can build a new building with a lot more electricity going into the panel.             and it’s a modern building built with modernulation which reduces your overall cooling and heating needs because it’s better insulated. Ah and ah       you can just because it’s a new building. You can be to build it just for heat pps. So there’s no extra retrofit cost then the math also works out great. So so that’s awesome and we should do a lot of that. But here’s a fun stat. So there’s there’s a sort of ah another holy grail which is we should use more heat pps as well and 1 day when our grid is very clean. We will fuel the heat pps with green electricity and that will help us decarbonize so europe europe is usually 15 years ahead of the usa in terms of regulation. They’ve been pushing that for 15 years and they’ve kind of given up and are starting additional approaches. So the statistic is that say germany germany if you remember energy gang wind. They were ahead of the entire world and pushing green energy technology. And after all those subsidies for 10 years for heat pps. They have reached the awesome milestone that fifty percent of new buildings now are installing heat pps. However       ah as I mentioned earlier right? like most heating appliances get sold into existing buildings. In fact. 80 percent of all buildings that are going to be here in 2050 have already been built existing buildings is the elephant in the room and even after all subsidies heat pps have reached about 5 percent of existing buildings and that means there’s ah  there’s a few challenges.                       

Tony Pan:       1 of course is the retrofits cost of heat pp technology into existing building also because existing buildings have poor and so ah”  poor insulation. Ah generally speaking heat pps can’t can’t like they can’t deliver enough heating during the coldest times of the year which is that it’s it’s. It’s most useless when you need need heat the most it’s an unfortunate fact of the intrinsic physics of the heat pub technology that it reaches highest efficiency with the temperature gradients between inside and house site is low and it reaches its lowest efficiency. But the temperature gradient between inside and outside is high so and so that’s sort of the issue that folks have realized and that’s why places in europe they’re trying hydrogen they’re trying of course our technology with combined heat and power they’re doing also district heating. They know they need a lot of extra solutions. Ah     this is why heating is 1 of the hardest areas to decarbonize.                                                                                

James McWalter:         And so if we think about  then let’s say this kind of 2030 year time horizon and that we’re looking to get to  net net net zero in a lot of different areas including kind of residential heating and so on ”   as is how how kind of much how much more carbon efficient I guess is.  the kind of boilers would your technology engage versus the status quo type of boiler when it’s deployed. So.                                                                                                 

Tony Pan:       Yeah” roughly speaking a wheel shave off about a third of the carbon footprint that is present associated with your heating system the nber varies because it depends on the climate right? Like if you use a lot more heat. We’ll use a lot more electricity will generate a lot more electricity and so forth. And it depends on how clean your electricity is and your grid because we’re essentially we’re we’re generating electricity out of energy. That’s already wasted. So overall the power plants need to generate less electricity. So we’re shaving carbon. Basically that way. Ah           but ah. Ah      the way europe is going is that there’s going to be also Hydrogen now introduced and mixed into a lot of the gas grids. So as a fuel gets cleaner. This is a way to also get to start getting to zero for the overall system and frankly our technology is actually fuel agnostic where heats into a electricity converter. So whether it’s a dirty fuel or a clean fuel. We make it more efficient. Yeah.                                                          

James McWalter:         I And said I mean I haven’t looked into this space at all Indep but is there kind of work being done on residential cited Hydrogen boilers or is it. Yeah”         there is very explosive.                                                                                    

Tony Pan:       Yes”   yeah so ah it’s very ambitious and frankly  it’s ah yeah   ah      a lot of things have have to go right for that to happen but ah major players in europe already pilot testing this There’s like Hydrogen mini towns in europe already. It goes back to the. The system up the question of how do you decarbonize building heating so bluntly speaking. Ah this might be a bit real politic but building heating is not going to be decarbonized by 2030 this is 1 of the ah like like we’re going to get ah or vehicles 1 hundred percent electricity before this happens. It’s 1 of the. Hardest to decarbonized sectors along with things like agriculture or long distance planes to could you another sense of scale right? The why is electrification failing so we’re both in a usa when we half of us homes use gas for heating in their homes. And it reaches its peak energy right? of course in winter at night when the sun has set and it’s getting cold and that’s also when people return home from school and work when that happens the peak power from all that gas just in homes exceeds 1 terawatt which is greater than all electricity generated. From the entire us electricity grid from every single source so all electricity we have which we’re already using right? That’s not for homes not for home heating yet all that doesn’t even match out to just gas used in homes and only ten percent of our grid is ah solar and wid so. We don’t have enough generation. We also don’t have enough transmission and distribution grid right? if we had to fully electrify all of that our current grid can’t handle it and it takes about 100 years to build this our grid. Ah and so it’s a massive challenge. This is why modern electron is emphasizing efficiency. And this is why europe which is trying to build the stuff they need in 2050 is even doing things like hydrogen because you’ll need additional fuel carriers in addition to electricity.   

James McWalter:         Yeah I guess  in terms of timelines.  I would I’d say yeah electrification of all like the  the all griffiths type approach from right wiring America and and similar approaches which is  basically because once it’s in Electron form. It’s just more efficient than moving in and out of of heat and so on. Think as you as you mentioned earlier you fully agree with but it’s like if the heat already exists in some context. Let’s just Adopt. Let’s just grab as much energy out of that heat that we can and convert to electricity. ”   so I agree with that I mean absolutely .                                                                                     

Tony Pan:       Yeah” the electrons way more valuable than the heat right on average I think is four times more valuable.                                                                                                       

James McWalter:         Absolutely and so it’s so that I suppose I’m completely kind of align on that I guess from my perspective  for any sort of ”    1 point five to 1 point 8 degree warming trajectory like basically the U s grade will triple in size from ah like electric generation point of view I think to your point earlier about  this more distributed. Like energy resource these the Er type type situations or  mini power plants. distributed much more kind of widely I think that’s definitely going to be a large piece of the picture I’d say potentially 55 percent of total energy generation will be very very localized and that does dramatically cut down in transmission. . I Also think that we’ll probably overbuild quote unquote from ah        a purely technical point of view things like solar and wind unlike a 20 year time Horizon but like that over build will will be so cheap relative to the status quo of building so wind.  I think it’ll still allow us to get to yeah like a 3 X grid probably in yeah or 2021  20 years I’d say well. But 3 times the size the electricity grid some current kind of curves.                                                  

Tony Pan:       I agree with generation I don’t agree with transmission and distribution I think yeah we can build generation plants with solar wind cheaply and it’s got to get even cheaper. But ah”    you need to get an energy where it needs to go and that’s the elephant in the room.                                                                                                     

James McWalter:         Yeah” no     that’s I suppose.         ah I was a deeper kind of conversation I agree like when I talk to utilities and and kind of some of the projects I work on they are building a ton.     but they’re still not building to the capacity that’s needed and interterminment mission across different states and and regions is quite difficult.                                                         

Tony Pan:       Yeah” yeah yeah it’s hard right? It’s crazy if you look at it electricity costs that it’s builtills into what we’re paying in homes today. It’s funny right? Have you seen your utility bill go down I’ve talked to many people I don’t think this has happened and the reason.                                                          

Tony Pan:       And that’s weird because we have cheap renewables now. So generations should be cheaper right? So why isn’t electricity cost going down. Well ah Ford I think forty 3 percent of your electricity bill is now generation. Ah sorry”   not generation. But it’s transmission and distribution and it’s only gonna get higher.                                                                                          

James McWalter:         Yeah” and and just just for for the kind of layperson. Basically the amount of wires that are built to get energy from 1 place to another.      those’s big kind of high voltage power lines that people drive by sometimes     basically they can only carry so much electricity and at a given points of the day they’re basically just full.                                                                  

Tony Pan:       So yeah.”                                                                                                                     

James McWalter:         It’s imagine like a water pipe full of water and you just basically can’t get the water. You can’t put add anymore water to a water pipe as’s similar to energy like if  a city like Seattle needs a ton of energy. ”  there may be a ton of energy being generated like outside the state all ready to go but the transmission lines. Are fully full and so that you just can’t get anymore into the City. We need to vote a ah hundred percent and you couldn’t mentioned this and I think this kind of goes into both the transmission piece as well as  different types of how the home is affected.  you mentioned some of these kind of european efforts.                                                                                   

Tony Pan:       Yeah” we we need to build a lot more and we just start now.                                                                                      

James McWalter:         What is the kind of regulatory and the  permitting process looks like in the United States  I I know there are some states do have kinds of programs around energy and efficiency in the home and so on. ”  what are you seeing? What are you kind of excited about from the regulatory picture and.                                                                                         

Tony Pan:       Oh so this is kind of funny in europe when you do when you do this kind of waste energy capture to code generates heat and power. Ah our our products right? boilers with our technology inside. Will be rated at above a hundred percent efficiency and of course of the I’m a trained as a physicist right? like ah so I’m like that’s stupid. That’s impossible. Nothing can be above 100 ah hundred percent efficiency. But this is the way the math is written in the books.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Tony Pan:       Because everybody recognizes electricity is more valuable than heat. Not just from an economic value standpoint. But because if you produce electricity locally. It’s a lot more efficient. Ah because you don’t have their transmission and you don’t have the one third average power plant efficiency. You don’t have to deal with that anymore. So they multiply the electricity by. Factor of 2 point five before it they added to also the heat generated within your boiler so because of the way that math works ah boilers with our technology will be rated above 100 percent efficient which is kind of cool and of course that makes us happy but it’s just again as a former physicist. But I I sort of roll my eyes out that but just take my blessings.”                                                                                                                        

James McWalter:         Absolutely and and then in terms of like the other ah  standards I know new york has some pretty strong. ”   new building standards.           I think it’s the ny c and ninety seven law which is affecting  greenhouse gas emissions. Although I think that’s more for like larger scale than like single-family homes. .  how do you think about?  the importance of regulation.  you’re already talking to a lot of the boilermakers or you’re already have partnerships with a lot of those   are they like do they need a continued push right either from the regulation side or maybe more on the conser side or do you think  just the pure economics of. Technology like yours makes sense for them right now.                                                                                  

Tony Pan:       Bluntly It’s the pure economics and value prop of the technology. Ah Usa regulation ah is not the same as Europe to put them milly. So the major Usa companies are working with us. They’re relying on the fact that they think people are going to love this right.”                                                                                                                      

James McWalter:         Sure I.”                                                                                                          

Tony Pan:       If you first of all”           even if you didn’t care about energy savings. Ah if you’re living in a blackout pro blackout prone area. This is 1 of the best things that has ever happened to heating appliances. It can basically give you backup power. And make make your life a lot easier save you save you pain save you tens of thousands of dollars in damages and your only other alternative is like a fifteen thousand dollars generator installed outside of your home taking extra extra real states and additional maintenance.                                                                                                    

James McWalter:         Or or a similar like cost for a ” solar plus battery array. If if you have the space for that as well. Right? like  you’re right.                                                                                               

Tony Pan:       Oh yeah”         like a solar plus battery array would be even more expensive right? But that that 1 has energy savings unlike a generator generator so that that’s good           but ah  the issue is wintertime right? The the winter time Blackout. You don’t have enough solar. And a battery will run out. It will not last you through like the multi-day multi-day blackhouse that you saw ah in this winter season whereas we have a generation technology. It will never run out during the blackout or just keep going so they’re they’re seeing this primarily just from an intrinsic value propp standpoint in the us.                                                                      

James McWalter:         So right.”                                                                                                                      

Tony Pan:       But I actually would love to see more governmental action here. It’s it’s a little bit absurd. Ah what we have in a us aid regulations are quite behind where I think they should be to give you a sense. Ah. Let’s set aside modern electron right? like ignore our technology exists there are there was a technology called condensing technology within heating appliances I won’t go into how it works but basically condensing technology is mandated has been mandated in europe for . 15 years now because it raises the heating appliance efficiency from about 80 percent to ninety plus not big change but enough to be significant and it was invented like 40 years ago so 20 years ago you’re pretty mandated it ah in the usa it has never. Been really mandated. Ah”  despite the efficiency improvements and so today seventy percent of the usa markets is still the previous generation technology from like the nineteen seventy s and 80 s it’s crazy. Ah.                                                                                             

James McWalter:         Right? And so the massive opportunity to like skip skip ahead to the kind of level that of what what you’re building. ”  that’s super fascinating.  I suppose just before we kind of finish you up here?      I was like looking into your background and I believe you’ve grown up in  combined Taiwan Scotland Korea and now you’re       living in seattle.                                                          

Tony Pan:       Yeah.”                                                                                                            

James McWalter:         What is the kind of moving between those kind of quick culturally different places kind of impacted how you build a startup.”                                                                                                                 

Tony Pan:       Well I think it impacted the mission. So first of all I moved around. Ah fortunately because my dad was in the navy right? So ah”          what’s better than you join the navy yourself as your your parents join the Navy you see the world and they do the work.                                                                                               

James McWalter:         All right? sure.”                                                                                                         

Tony Pan:       Ah”    but ah  it was the taiwanese navy I’m ah I was born in taiwan and ah I think how would I put this I have a little bit of ah allergy to some of the Silicon valley approaches which I like to say it as akin to let them eat cake which is come up with a fancy and expensive solutions. And I think that comes from the fact that I didn’t to be clear I grew up very privileged I grew up in a middle class family in Taiwan which is a pretty developed country but it’s not the United states. It’s just not especially when I was growing up I was just not that rich. And I’m I’m like 1 generation from poverty like real poverty not like and this sounds kind of brutal but like I there’s real poverty in the usa as well. But it’s not the real real poverty and and out there in the rest of the world right? Ah to give you a statistic right? like.                                                                                    

James McWalter:         Like like like dollar ten dollars a day type poverty. .”                                                                                                           

Tony Pan:       Yeah” like my mom. My mom was the fourth child to be born in her family. She was the first to survive past age of 2 right? and I’ve  I’ve she grew up in like sls I that’s still like my grandparents home but or that they pass away very early because you also don’t live very long but like I visited those places right? it’s.                                                                                               

James McWalter:         Or yep.”                                                                                                                       

James McWalter:         Sure sure.”                                                                                                                  

Tony Pan:       It’s horrible. This is what most of the world live like right? So I just can’t I can’t ah I think our company founding mission was to make energy both cleaner and cheaper I sorts of intrinsically refused to just say hey climate change is important so work. No matter what we should just use green technology even if it’s super expensive. I just don’t believe that and I think that has a little bit to do with my background I don’t think that’s fair. So that’s sort of why we take the we’ve spent ah many tens of millions of dollars doing breakthrough technology at Modern electron because of the intrinsic belief that frankly”     a technological miracle is probably. Not only like morally the right thing to do. But I think it’s necessary because we think to get to scale a lot of the world like this has got to be like purely superior to then than current tech right? like the better greener solution has to be superior to the current solution. From an economic standpoint and all these other things. Even if you didn’t care about c o 2 because that’s what a lot of people on the planets are going to be like because they they’re not as fortunate as us.                                                                                            

James McWalter:         I think there” there’s a huge amount of kind of value in that and that perspective  I think we’ve done collectively as people in the climate space either technology or policy a pretty bad job of painting like this incredibly exciting future that the the tech we’re all working on is actually going to produce like it’s a cleaner. You turn not just from a c o 2 point of view but  a smog in the air.          yeah I’ve spent a ton of time in the developing world over the last  11 years and in some of the countries you mentioned and and countries like yeah earlier and I suppose the development kind of cycle and  just just breathing is just very very difficult in a lot of places and we kind of as we introduce like. Technologies that through either electrification or the reabsorption of heat in the way that  modern electrons working on those all those kind of things.    that’s like a net good but it also has to have price parody right along all the way through that kind of value chain.  because  it’s all very well I guess for developed countries to ah decate certain things.                                                              

Tony Pan:       ”          yeah.                                                                                             

James McWalter:         ”          from a particular kind of advantage in terms of like living standards.  like I’m I’m a few more generations ireland’s a little bit further behind the the us than than yeah other developed countries.    but but not not to the same level as your and  there was yeah my I guess I’m like a. Grandparent away from like not having tvs and refrigerators and all this kind of thing I mean be a four generation away from the kind of level of Poverty. You’re talking about but like it’s still I guess something that irish people are obsessed with is this idea that  I want to have ah a sense of safety in the home. A sense of like these these products have to.                                                                            

Tony Pan:       Yeah” yeah.                                                                                             

James McWalter:         Give safety around heat safety that I can eat safety around those kind of things before you get the nice Tv and all those kind of additional add-ons.”                                                                                                              

Tony Pan:       Yeah that’s exactly right right? I think ah there is real suffering in the world and before you ask folks to save the planet. It’s a lot easier to ask them hey use this new product because it’s gonna make your life better and it’s cheaper and incidentally it’s better. For your environment and I think that’s got to be the way that the real big solutions will happen across a planet if we really want to move the needle because yeah I mean  this right? most of the growth in c o 2 emissions is not going to happen in ah in the developed world anymore. It’s going to be the developing world that’s going to have the Fastest. Ah c o 2 contributions and if if we don’t things that work there. It’s sort of at moot points even if europe and usa gets to zero.”                                                                                                                 

James McWalter:         Oh absolutely And and ah all all the charts that I looked at recently like showed that very well.  Tony this has been great. ”      but really kind of enjoyed chatting is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.                                                                                                 

Tony Pan:       Oh yeah.”                                                                                                                    

I’d say sort of the nber 1 thing. We’re pretty proud of with our solution is it’s a drop-in solution right? because of this intel inside model. You’d be able to adopt this new appliance. That’s more efficient. It will save you money. It will reduce your overall climate footprint at like no extra hassle. This is just this is almost invisible sitting inside these heating appliances that just makes them better and therefore we think this is a way to go to scale quickly and yeah” so when it comes out in the Market. Ah consider that and also by the way model electron is growing like crazy. So we  we we have a wonderful team there I’m the spokesperson at this point our our our team we have like 14 page ds 14 masters doing deep tech cool work. Great culture and they’re the people that make the magic happen. And so we’d love for folks to join us in in the climate fight.                                                                              

James McWalter:         So very good. Yeah”   and I’ll include link links to your career page I think you’re doing a ton of hiring at the moment.          thank you Tony It’s been great.                                                                          

Tony Pan:       Okay” thank you keep up the good fight.                                                                                                        

How to Make Green Financial Decisions – E68

Great to chat with Bonnie Gurry, Co-Founder at GreenPortfolio, a company that helps you know the climate impact of your finances! We discussed

ESG standards, greenwashing, finances as a powerful way to fight climate change, the need to direct people towards fighting climate change and more!

https://carbotnic.com/greenporfolio

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

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Thanks so much! 

James

The unedited podcast transcript is below

James McWalter   

Hello today we’re speaking with Bonnie gurry co-founder at green portfolio welcome to the podcast Bonnie brilliant I suppose to start with. Could you tell us a little bit about Greenportfolio?

Bonnie Gurry

Thanks for having me James I’m so glad to be here. Green portfolio is a financial management platform that offers personalized insights about the climate impact of your money so we screen your investments car transactions. All of the different financial products you use so that. You know where you stand are you backing Fossil Fuels or are you investing in a clean energy Future. We Want everyone to feel empowered to make impactful changes that will actually make a difference in the fight against climate change and so.

James McWalter  

 And and so what drove that initial decision to start the company and just how do you identify? This is such a big problem.

Bonnie Gurry

So all of this began. Ah quite some time ago.  I worked for new york state ah quite a bit ago ah helping them develop renewable energy projects. and I saw the kinds of deals that institutional investors were getting and I wanted to add that kind of ah project to my own portfolio I wanted to take some of my money and make sure it was in you know helping to build a clean energy future and I found it pretty hard to do. . Started doing research building spreadsheets. and this was a long time ago. It’s something I’ve kind of kept track of over the years and then in the end of 2019 I actually applied to the nrdc the national resources defense council for a grant just to start to build. Ah. Public resource for people to kind of try to do the same analysis of their money and it’s slowly turned into what is now Green portfolio. so we we began more of ah as a kind of reviews educational website and now we’ve we’ve pivoted into being a. Ah software product for consers. So we’ve we’ve kind of changed our focus over time and I’m I’m happy to talk a bit more about that as well. Just.

James McWalter   

And just I supposed to go back to that beginning piece. So when you say projects are we talking you know what kind of projects were the types of projects. You wish you could have had some sort of investment access to.

Bonnie Gurry

So at the time we were ah we had put out an rfp for wind farms was 1 of the major projects I was working on was wind farms across new york state and these were ah projects that were being essentially backed by new york state so they probably weren’t going to. Even if they failed the state would be there to kind of back up the investment. as long as the wind blew they generated electricity. and and you know I could see the banks were getting a very fair return on this almost very low risk investment. and I found it really frustrating that at that time especially. I couldn’t do the same thing in my portfolio that you basically had to be a large bank  or other kind of and you know institutional lender to have access to that kind of investment I mean so some time ago. Ah climate finance climate fintech has really evolved in the last you know Decade. Ah. So and even esg all of this has changed a lot. The landscape has changed ah but but that was the kind of thing I wanted to be able to fund and was really frustrated that I wasn’t able to do so.

James McWalter   

And if we look at the kind of massive growth in clean energy companies some of them driven by Sps some of them driven by more traditional methods of financing. yeah there’s basically a ton of returns that have been generated in the last ten years and and that is. You know probably going to accredited investors only at this point.

Bonnie Gurry

I would agree with that I think the average investor has not had a lot of exposure to this market which if you believe that ultimately we need to adjust our entire infrastructure to stop climate change the fact that. Average person doesn’t have much exposure to this to me is is really unfair and so that’s 1 reason why we started green portfolio is because we think everyone should not only be able to stop funding fossil fuels if that’s what they want to do but also have exposure to green assets actual. Green assets if. That’s important to them as well.

04:15.0 James McWalter   

I Guess as it goes as kind of emotional took a war that people in the climate space are constantly kind of dealing with between you know I suppose outlining the downsides outlining you know basically fear-based messaging versus like hope-based messaging like the the positive upside.

Bonnie Gurry

We have.

James McWalter   

And absolutely Agree. You know divestment from fossil fuels is like a necessary but like not sufficient condition to make major change whereas it’s the actual investment in you know the clean technologies of today and of the next kind of couple of decades which gets people excited right? You know people are going to have evs in most parking lots pretty soon people are going to you know. Be able to build a house and and know that the concrete is coming from. You know carbon to value concrete and all those kind of tech is coming along. But I agree like if I don’t think we do as good a job explaining the upside as ah overall climate community as we might.

Bonnie Gurry

I would agree with that and I I also think on occasion we get a little bit stuck in looking for perfection as well. like I’ve had some people be frustrated because you know so there are some you know bond funds that we think are very green but hold treasury bonds. And like treasury bonds are not a green asset. Well but that’s just the reality of how financial products work. Of course they’re going to have to hold something in something more liquid. but the majority of it is and you can still you know add some of that to your portfolio diversify a bit  and and still make a difference even if it. You know we’re not saying that everyone should take all their money and invest in only Green assets but we think it should be part of a ah ah reasonable diversification effort.  for the average person.

James McWalter   

Sure. Absolutely and so you mentioned this kind of pivot from more an informational product into more of a software product and so what is the product today and I suppose what you know how is that working. So.

Bonnie Gurry

So right now we’re essentially mid-pivot. so ah you caught us a kind of ah ah I hate to say but a pivotal moment. where so while we were building out this kind of informational reviews-based site.

Bonnie Gurry

We did a lot of customer interviews. both with people who knew a lot about green investing and people who knew very little and we found that especially the people who knew a lot about green green investing ah had been doing ah very similar to exercises that I had been doing which was tracking their finances in excel. And doing all this legwork to figure out which of the funds had Fossil Fuel assets which ones didn’t  and many of them were frustrated and ah you know they wanted to do it but they who has time who has time to do that. and. On the other hand we found that there were a lot of people who on the whole don’t enjoy managing their finances green or otherwise found it find it a bit daunting but really care about the environment and just wanted to essentially press a button and say what’s Good. What’s bad. Can you just tell me. . And so that’s when we say you know we need more than just information people Really There’s a real you know open space for this kind of product. No 1 else is really doing this people really want to do it. and we think this is a service that we could provide  and so that’s really what. Changed our focus was hearing from potential users that this is what they really Wanted. Information was great but they were kind of overwhelmed.  what they wanted was analysis and insight particular to their finances.

James McWalter   

Absolutely you know I think about some of the products I use for my own just personal finance. Nothing to do with green portfolio but things like mint or personal capital or these kind of products you know they they go into my you know savings accounts or you know my brokerage accounts. Whatever it may be they s it up and they say Okay you know you have this amount of equities this amount of bonds and you know a little bit of more information besides that and it would absolutely be phenomenal to know you know I’m holding all these etfs and how dirty are those etfs right? But you know I’m trying to be green and in my day today but I have no idea I might through some my etfs just be holding a ton of coal. Ah.

Bonnie Gurry

You will.

James McWalter  

Power plants that I’m not even aware of.

Bonnie Gurry

You you probably are and that’s 1 thing people don’t realize even if they have gone to the trouble of say buying an esg fund or using only esg funds ah because of the way esg works and first of all there’s no standard for what and.

James McWalter   

No.

Bonnie Gurry

What esg is there are many different people who have many different ratings that call themselves esg ratings. There’s no government entities saying here’s how you should or should not do it. But in general it’s done on an industry basis. So ah a. Exxon for instance tends to have a very high environmental rating because compared to other oil and gas companies. They are cleaner in Theory. Ah so they are very likely in an esg etf. Ah which most people don’t think is going to happen.

James McWalter   

Here here. Right now.

Bonnie Gurry

Ah but the reality is that esg was not developed for individuals. It was developed for institutions professionals. But now it’s really being used as a marketing tool in my opinion to greenwash things for a conser. Ah who doesn’t have the time to dig into all of the ratings and to learn how they are developed and used.

James McWalter   

Let’s chat a little bit about greenwashing. You know it is something that I think people are becoming more aware of but this was yeah how do you define greenwashing and what are the? ah. I think there’s a couple different flavors of green washing some way worse than others. But how do you think about that as a kind of general concept.

Bonnie Gurry

Ah for us greenwashing is pretty much anything being done to trick a conser into thinking what they’re using. Actually it’s helping the environment and many products in this space in.

James McWalter   

And then.

Bonnie Gurry

Financial many financial products in this space I think are guilty of that. if you start digging into certain carbon offsets if you start really as I mentioned the esg funds it it can be really frustrating to try to actually find products that are making a difference. If I see another credit card that is compostable that that 1 drives me up a wall like fantastic I’m glad you’re using compostable plastic I suppose but what do you think you’re actually doing with that. That’s not really moving the needle. But they understand that people are emotional. It makes them feel good when they swipe a card that is compostable but there needs to be more behind it and our finances are 1 of the most powerful tools we have to fight climate change and almost no 1 is using their finances to fight climate Change. . Where we as a society spend our money matters and our society is made up of people who have money and investments and collectively if we start to adjust it. We can start to change How things are invested.

James McWalter   

Yeah I think yeah on the greenwashing side the in 1 and 1 respect I think it’s just it’s in s total of han you know existence. It’s a net positive because just the fact that people care enough about it. The green to be washed is a positive right? that companies are making sort of response to and.

Bonnie Gurry

Boom.

James McWalter   

You know for first twenty thirty years of like an environmental movement that was being kind of translated into conser action. It was just completely nonsense right? It was like you know we’re just doing this tiny little thing over here and just burning down a ton of rainforest over there and you know don’t don’t look at over here. You know just focus on this 1 little project that’s happening locally. Whatever may be I think what we’re kind of. Starting to see is and I think the the movement on the financialization of esg and the adding you know of like large index indicess that are starting to bring in these kind of metrics to evaluate your different kind of companies means that the the actual like responsibility for sustainability at the company is moving from. You know some side team to the cfo.  And I think that shift is kind of really driving it from ah yeah sustainability slash marketing team to actually the financial cfo team who has more of a I supposed see it at the board for a lot of these dirtier companies.

Bonnie Gurry

Ah hundred percent I agree with that and and even though I on the whole don’t love esg I think it has been a ah ah net positive by even even if the the calculations and the the metrics used can be misleading at least for measuring something. you know at least it puts companies on notice that people are paying attention and they least have to try to maintain some effort of reducing their impact on on the world and climate in Particular. . So I so I agree that it. Well once again it’s back to that the concept before we you know we’re not going to find perfect right now we have to use the tools we have the resources we have to to make the effect the greatest change we can. So yeah on the whole I think greenwashing is frustrating to the end conser but at at least.

James McWalter  

 Absolutely and 1 of the things you mentioned earlier. It was a little bit more tactical but I think I’d love to dive into it. A little bit is the kind of user research and the user interview process. You know I talked to a ton of startups but on the podcast and elsewhere.

Bonnie Gurry

Companies are starting to care more.

James McWalter  

 And I would say if I had to pick like a nber 1 sign of a startup who are increasing their chance of success. It’s like the nber of times they talk to users especially at the earliest days you know I suppose tactically what? what was your process to get in front of the kind of people you needed to talk to.

Bonnie Gurry

Well so for 1 we really put it at front and center of what we were doing ah for quite some time because we realized we hadn’t quite something wasn’t quite fitting perfectly and in the in the product we were providing to users. And so we really wanted to dig into that to try to understand ah different users problems and so we on on 1 hand just like reached out to people we knew and asked them hey can we talk to a random cousin anyone anyone like because everyone has money. In some sort of financial product. So that’s kind of where we started.  and then we slowly got introduced especially to companies that had sustainable investing groups. Those are really great for being able to talk to people who cared about this subject already.  we started keeping our ears open for companies that had internal employee sustainable investing groups and asking ah can we you know? can we do a lunch and learn. Can we set up a time to talk with a few of your employees and over time we I mean we’ve done hundreds of interviews and it absolutely helped us better understand. People’s needs and concerns.  and shaped how we are going about not only designing the product but then also how we’re going to go about selling and deploying the product as well. So I do highly recommend. Ah customer interviews.

James McWalter   

Yeah and like I said ah I think on the podcast in the in the past yeah I reach out to a couple hundred people a week no matter what I’m working on just cold warm like you can’t nearly can’t do enough kind of conversations and maybe only 2 people reply to. But. You know that that is all part of you know kind of startup and iteration. so when I think about this kind of product that’s kind of emergent at the moment you know it sounds like there’s kind of 2 pieces to it. There’s a software piece on it. There’s like a data piece and so software piece I’d imagine some sort of interface where I can log in I can maybe potentially add the assets already have or.

Bonnie Gurry

But yeah absolutely.

James McWalter   

You know and you can correct i’ wrong potentially ah purchase other types of assets or or link different kinds of assets together and then it’s the actual data to give insight into whether these are how how green how climate positive how you know impactful these different investments are you know I suppose. James McWalter   Where are you where you how you try to tackle both of those problems and what’s your general approach.

Bonnie Gurry

so we are in the beginning at least working with some third party tools to help us just start to scale up and part of that is because we want to do more than just. Ah. Help people see the impact of their finances. We also want to give them real time information on the companies they’re investing in what are they doing in this space day-to-day. you know no 1 has time to go and google every single company that is in their investment portfolio. So we want to be able to ping people and tell them you know. Here’s what Apple did today that has an environmental impact. We also want to connect them with the means to offset their purchases if that’s important to them if that’s something that they want to do we want to be able to provide them both a very. High level understanding of the climate impact of a particular financial product but then for kind of the super user if they want to click through and read about where that nber came from how we calculated it why we are judging a certain fund or company to be rated a certain way. Ah we want them to have that transparency because I think people are tired of having to ah you know trying to read the methodology of all these different esg ratings companies that they have access to so we want to make it really transparent because people are really frustrated with. You know being greenwashed to this point. Ah so we don’t want to contribute to that problem. so so there is a fine balance there though because we also want we don’t want it to be a chore right? We want this to be almost. You know kind of fun see how much money you have has your climate score gone up compare you to other users.

James McWalter  

 So absolutely.

Bonnie Gurry

 see what other users are up to we want to be able to provide like anonymize like user information. Oh twenty percent of our users drop this fund this week do you want to we think there’s a lot of engagement we can do as well. . Building on the data sets that we are developing and utilizing.

James McWalter  

 No absolutely and I guess like the value trust right becomes so important because a lot of what you’re doing is translating a lot of ah hard to understand concepts into some sort of relatively simple set of metrics and that translation like it necessitates a ton of trust on the user and I guess when I think through like est in particular and you know that’s the basis for so so Much. What’s happening. You know there’s 3 aspects of esg right? There’s the environmental social and the governance. you know a lot of The. Organization a lot of organizations will have a very good you know governance rating because you know the the founders don’t own forty forty 2 percent of the company or whatever it is and they have a decent board. whereas again they might be burning down right for some daily basis or doing other kind of terrible things with ah you know twitch shops and all this kind of thing.

Do you think about the other elements outside of the environmental piece and will those also be kind of incorporated into green portfolio.

Bonnie Gurry

So ah the data that we’re pulling in does have some of those external like s and g ratings as well. They we envision that it will be something that users will have access to seeing but because our first and foremost. Ah Metric is climate impact. We’re really stay focused on that. Ah but because also I want to mention we’re not taking anyone’s money right? So we’re not managing people’s money we can’t tell you exactly what funds that swap out things like that. So we do understand that people have different value systems. Ah but for now we’re really just focusing on the environmental climate impact risk of a particular financial product.

James McWalter  

 And and I think that makes a ton of sense you know focus especially early days. Super important. You know it’s better to have ah like ah a great skateboard than you know kind of half-filled car across all these different metrics. you mentioned that you’re not going to have a fiduciary duty. You’re not going to be directly kind of managing money. Makes a ton of sense is a Saas model is that the kind of current plan to to monetize. Okay perfect. Yeah I think that definitely aligns because the better the experience the fund all those elements you bring to the user.  the more they want to stay with you and so I think in this space. . Like that that that makes sense to me from a monetization point of View. So.

Bonnie Gurry

Yeah and we also are really seeing a lot of interest from companies actually who and this kind of goes back to where we a lot of our work in the beginning was in these sustainable employee groups. Ah. And and there are companies who are really feeling pressure from their employees to be greener do better and they would love to be able to provide a tool to their really proactive employees ah to help them to manage their climate anxiety Honestly ah people have a lot of climate anxiety with with good reason. And so we we see this as something that ah employees are actually employers are actually very interested in providing as a benefit as well. So we’re We’re really excited about that.

James McWalter   

I love that that point the perk space I think is this kind of remarkably interesting b 2 b to c kind of opportunity and I’ve talked to a few friends of mine who are kind of exploring kind of opportunities in that space. So 1 is but. Kind of adding electrify your home as a perk right? So the company would give you know twenty percent of any home renovations that you know you pull out the gas stove and you put in you know induction or whatever it may be and but rather than trying to go knock door to door and find all those individuals you offer it as a perk and like that’s a much easier sell right? because you only have to sign up.You know 3 hundred companies to be part of the pers program versus you know the 1 hundred thousand employees that they have collectively and so yeah and also to your point like the amount of competition for high end. Ah yeah people for for talent is getting hotter every year and

Bonnie Gurry

It is.

James McWalter   

And people have more of a care about the the impact that they have and so you know I like I feel we’re moving from like a world of like foosballs and free lunch to a much kind of greener set of perks that that employees are after.

Bonnie Gurry

I think that’s true as well. I think especially after covid people are starting to reassess what really matters and ah also during covid a lot of people in the last year have felt climate change affect them personally in a manner that wasn’t happening ten years ago five years ago even 3 years ago and and I think people want to start to assess their climate risk and we are a useful tool for that to help them start to understand you know what portion of your finances are invested in different facets of the you know. Clean economy. So that people can start to actually implement changes that matter to them. So so yeah we we see ourselves as part of that as well.

James McWalter  

 Yeah the glass here I Definitely feel is a bit of an inflection point and it’s hard to know when you’re in the middle of an inflection point like maybe things you know slow down again. but mainly because  so many people in places of power whether it’s you know Silicon Valley Capital Vc capitalists or You know members of government. Not only were they kind of stuck at home and weren’t able to do things that had always been an easy set of choices or they’d literally see their you know backyards or their homes at on fire. you know when I look at the vc like the amount of money pouring into climate vc this year I think it’s greater than the previous 10 years combined it’s absolutely like booming at the moment especially for seed and pree levels and so and to get this kind of early stage but you know as you kind of talk to the investment community. You know what are the kind of things that they find compelling about what you’re working on.

Bonnie Gurry

I mean we’ve had some really really great conversations. Ah with a nber of investors. We’re actually going to be opening our first round later this year which we’re really excited about? yeah so we’re starting to you know start making some warm intros and and start having some conversations.

James McWalter   

Its exciting. Yeah.

Bonnie Gurry

And you know they they see that this is a real gap in the Market. because there is just this flood of new green financial products. it’s part of what part of what we do at Green portfolios try to track all these new products and. Since the beginning of 2021. It’s just kind of exploded whether it’s bank accounts credit cards new investment funds ah mortgages insurance companies ah payment systems like there are so many new green financial products out there that it can be very hard to keep track of. And I think they realize that if as an investor who’s in this space day in day out. They’re having trouble keeping track of this ah from an you know from their firm’s point of view. Let alone their personal point of view I think they recognize that this is ah a problem. A lot of people are having and it’s a problem that. Particularly environmentally focused people are having so so yeah we’ve had a lot of really great conversations and we can almost tell immediately when we start talking with an investor ah 1 if they care about climate change like if it hits them in their heart and then. Then the conversation’s incredibly easy. They’re like oh I get what you’re doing this makes a ton of sense I myself would use this product or it’s someone who thinks climate change is well important. It’s not part of their core investment thesis and I think people who recognize how fundamental a change we are about to. Take part in because of climate change have they’ve built that into you know where they think they need to be investing and and and I think that’s smart I think a lot of our you know none of us envisioned how much covid was going to change our economy and society and we’re. Only now starting to understand how climate change is going to to change our our society as a whole  and I think the fact that the financial markets have quickly been adapting to this is is a sign of what’s to come.

James McWalter  

 No Absolutely and you know I think I’ve had some these kind of similar conversations and absolutely there’s this ah some get it more than others. but even the ones who don’t seem to get it as much 1 of the things I was got to ask them is like and even in your non you know climate focused Investments. . Should probably have a climate slide right? Even if it’s in the Appendix You know how are they going to react when a lot of their staff. Can’t come to work because of forest as fires. Whatever it may be so even just from ah like a risk profile. yeah even if you are a crm for you know hairdressers or whatever it may be ah you still need to care about. You know the downside risks that are going to just get worse in the next couple of decades.

Bonnie Gurry

Yeah I would absolutely agree with that. It’s It’s going to affect things in ways we hadn’t imagined and and I think it’s smart for any business and especially from a portfolio management point of view to at least have it on your radar of how things. How things might be affected and what what your downside risk is because I think a lot of people don’t know.

James McWalter   

Absolutely and I believe you also kind of came through like an accelerator in New York could you tell us a little bit about that experience.

Bonnie Gurry

Ah sure so we most recently went through the colbia ibm launch accelerator. Ah which was a really fantastic experience. It was run ah by staff at colbia university in conjunction with ibm so we had access to. Ibm watson and all of their kind of like internal data tools that they had as well as a lot of the key ibm staff that most of whom were sitting in in New York State some outside new york say but mostly new york and it was for somewhat recent graduates from new york. Ah schools. Ah but the the staff homey was just fantastic and really took a very focused approach in making sure that we were talking to customers understanding their needs just kind of real fundamental things that. Now that we have built it into our general practice have made such a difference. So ah so it was ah it was a great experience with ah a lot of really interesting startups most of whom were not with a green focus. Ah but in some ways we’re dealing with data so that was the core premise of all these different that the core. A factor that we all kind of had in common was we all were in some ways using data to and provide a better product for consers.  see it was a really great experience and we were 1 of the teams actually got a follow on funding which we were really excited about.

James McWalter   

And that’s very exciting. It is this kind of interesting kind of relationship between you know a corporate capital versus kind of more conventional kind of Vc Capital. it can definitely be this kind of. Boost to understanding how certain types of companies think and can kind of enhance the startup from there and yeah so sometimes actually you do see green washing in the space I know the shells of the world have a ton of ah you know Capital armss and so on and I’m not sure if they’re investing in a ton of clean energy. But.

James McWalter   

 and so it is this kind of balance. But yeah it makes sense that that was a great experience.

Bonnie Gurry

Yeah and I think a lot of these kind of smaller accelerators. Don’t get the same you know fanfare as the Y combinators or tech starst etc. but I I think they shouldn’t be overlooked at all you know they.

James McWalter   

No.

Bonnie Gurry

Can provide a lot of value and really especially at pivotal moments provide the kind of insight and support ah that you know it can be hard to access if you’re not 1 of the very few companies that like makes it into 1 of these huge accelerators.  I I have been. Since the beginning of this whole like startup journey I’ve been just so warmed and surprised by not only from the colbia team but just by if you go and ask people for help. How many people are willing to help you how many people are willing to open their rolodex or just you know give you time or advice and and I Think. Ah that kind of ecosystem ah can be tapped into a nber of ways and 1 of which is going through 1 of these smaller accelerators.

James McWalter   

Yeah and I’ve I’ve talked to somebody recently who was basically approached by a wesi partner to you know apply for their clean Very cool clean energy startup and they were just like like weissi’s great but like they don’t know enough about clean energy and what is particularly needed to get to that next level. But. Particular company trying to get to in terms of you know heat pp applied to buildings and so on and so they were definitely just more looking at kind of corporate Partners. You know theiemens of the world. This kind of thing to like really get into understanding of like supply chains. All these kind of things I think they joined I think Semens accelerate or something similar. So makes a ton of sense I Guess like you know you’ve kind of in this kind of community or you know at an accelerator you’re talking to other kind of companies that are tackling different aspects of the problem. You know you kind of look across the the climate space. You know where do you see kind of large opportunities that not enough people are looking at not enough people are trying to solve.

Bonnie Gurry

So  I Still think that there is a lot of potential out there in tapping into people’s willingness to personally fight climate change. You know you look at the data.

James McWalter   

So.

Bonnie Gurry

Especially for Gen Z and millennials and you know the the kinds of decisions people are making about their lives because of climate change where they live if they have a kid how how they go go to work I mean these are major lifestyle changes right? Not having kids is ah. A pretty big deal. and and the fact that we could be asking them to do other impactful things in a way that could make a difference I think that really hasn’t been fully. Ah. Utilize in some way. Yeah and I’m not quite sure. That’s something we’re trying to kind of tap into saying you know there’s other things you could be doing but I still think that in kind of the amount of work we need to do to remake our society ah to to fight this kind of existential problem. There are lots of people willing to help they just don’t know what to do and and I think that that there there’s something there that we haven’t fully ah you know utilized yet that the energy of people who who want to make a difference and and it’s not a small subset of the population. It’s a lot of the population. Ah. Want a better life for themselves and their kids and ah and I think there’s a lot of opportunity there I Really do.

James McWalter  

I agree fully with that I think of Saul griffiths who wrote rewiring America here’s this line about you know even just the is looking at rezoning and all the legal issues there. He’s like there’s a job even for the lawyers right in the future of of climate change and I think that.   I guess I think we have a pretty poor filter as of right now.  to get people to where they need to get to.  you know there’s these ah great emergent. You know online communities. You know my climate journey is 1 air miners work on climate you know a few others I’m sure people are shouting out at the podcast now because but. You know collectively these are maybe about thirty thousand people across all these now. These 30000 people are doing unbelievably phenomenal things and it was only three thousand last year right and so like the uprow has been just phenomenal. Even since I got involved in these communities. but like I feel this is an earth.

Bonnie Gurry

Moving.

James McWalter   Easy 2 or 3 million people in the United states alone who would very very happily dedicate some or a lot of the resources not just at work. But you know in their spare time to things that moved a needle and some of that’s activism but some of it again. Is you know I guess the lawyer example but like pro Bono work around. Ah you know getting a solar plant. Ah. Permitting process and cutting that process from 6 months to five months you know even that extra one month has such a profound effect on the scale of decades and I guess you know what are the?  and I also struggle with this but I guess what are the kind of improved filters that get people into the right places to do things. You know government is a pretty blunt instrent. Yeah there’s obviously a few bills that do some of this stuff kind of in congress at the moment you know startups are trying to make build cool things but also have to make yeah direct money out of it and then activism has its own ups and downs as is philanthropy. it does seem like there needs to be this other thing that directs people.  I guess ah you know what are some of those programs you know like you ah you work for America for a year the foreign foreign these kind of things so something that maybe like that for climate specifically might be needed.

Bonnie Gurry

Which I believe is in the current legislation that has not yet been passed  is ah you know ah allowing younger people to to work for a year for the government. Ah. And different capacities fighting climate change. But I think a lot of it is also almost educational I think a lot of people don’t think that their job or their skill set could be applied to fighting climate change because I don’t know they’re not an engineer or who knows what? . But that’s not I mean 1 ah 1 of the things that we are first hire is probably once we we are really up and running is is a copy editor right? like you wouldn’t think of that as someone who is fighting climate change but but they can be so you know there’s a lot of different jobs available in this space and I would I would say.

James McWalter   

Right.

Bonnie Gurry

Almost every job could have a climate aspect to it. and I and I I think just there is a lot that can be learned from the 1 I hate to keep going back to covid but when you see the nber of people that dropped everything they were doing to say I am going to work to fight this disease so that millions can can live. If we could have that same kind of mindset change that you know your whatever you’re researching right? now your knowledge could be applied to to fighting climate change. You know I think that that is just something that’s going to take a little bit for people to learn and understand and. Every time I meet someone who says they don’t know what to do with their life. Yeah I’m like I’ll tell you let me tell you? Yeah whatever you’re doing just start digging and figure out how you can start being a part of the solution to this this huge problem.

James McWalter   

It’s also you know when I look at online places online and obviously data is getting too deep in some of these things but is a tremendous amount of ah or tremendous lack of hope sometimes from comments. It’s like you know the world’s on fire like it’s already done. We’ve already done those things.

Bonnie Gurry

We have. No.

James McWalter   

And you know sometimes in an anonymous or less anonymous way I’ll be like well you know this is working and this is working and they’re all small things right? but there are literally like so many people working dedicating their entire lives to those things and like in the nicest possible way I’m like you know you too ah could also join these efforts and again doesn’t have to be a private company.

Bonnie Gurry

And he.

James McWalter   

 again I think like the role of activism and and and you know people on the streets and all these things are also super important. But the only way I guess to get past the spare often is through action and maybe the action is not perfect and you’re slightly moving. You know you want to move North and you’re slightly moving Northeast and you know might not be perfect.

Bonnie Gurry

 despairing Yes always always and and there is a lot of hope in action and you know that the chapter has not been written yet about.

James McWalter   

But it’s little better than kind of just sitting in the middle you know sitting on the ground and like not feeling it and despairing and so yeah so always action above despair I guess.

Bonnie Gurry

What is going to Happen. We don’t fully understand Ah how our climate works We have good models to estimate that things could turn out to be better than expected. They could also turn out to be worse I’m not going to lie. But if we don’t try you know where are we going to be at so  and. And I think we at least need to try and so I think there there is a lot of hope and in joining these types of communities and learning that you do have something to contribute or even just trying to do something small like making sure that your money is not contributing to the problem.  those actions matter and they add up to. To a larger movement pushing the entire. You know the entire solution forward.

James McWalter   

No absolutely. yeah I mean and that that’s a phenomenal place to kind of ended on so before we finish out you know is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.

Bonnie Gurry

I’m trying to think of that we I think we really touched on everything we’re working on right now I would love to just say that we will be ah launching kind of a beta version later this year ah but then for general users and 2022 we will have a. Ah live version. You can join so. We’d love if you joined our waitlist greenportfolio dot com back slash waitlist and shortly as I mentioned before we are hoping to start hiring soon for a variety of roles some financial some technical  but also some not. So we’d love if you’re interested and love what we’re doing to join us.

James McWalter   

Absolutely and we’ll include those links in the show notes. Thank you very much bonnie. This has been great.

Bonnie Gurry

Thank you so much for having me.

Stopping Batteries Catching Fire – E67

Great to chat with Brian Morin, CEO at Soteria Battery Innovation Group who make lithium-ion batteries dramatically safer! We discussed battery safety, how battery explosions lead to major recalls of EV batteries, what certification and safety tests are needed, licensing consortium models and more!

https://carbotnic.com/soteria

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon
  2. Rate 5 stars on Apple

Thanks so much! 

James

The Epic Quest for Cheap Solar Energy – E66

Great to chat with Matt Campbell, CEO and Founder at Terabase Energy! Terabase accelerates the deployment of solar power plants! We discussed the advantages of rapid characterizing the site for solar power plants, the use of GIS, the exciting technologies that cheap solar energy enables, the relationship between local developers and big players in the energy sector and more!

https://carbotnic.com/terabase

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon  
  2. Rate 5 stars on Apple

Thanks so much! 

James

Plastic in Concrete?! – E65

Great to chat with Sebastian Sajoux, CEO at Arqlite, a recycling technology company developing high-efficiency materials, made from 100% recycled plastic! We discussed how they create Smart gravel from hard to recycle plastic, how a focus on local solutions avoids CO2 emissions for concrete, regulations to remove the plastics from the environment, the need for government incentives to speed up the process to help the environment and more! 

https://carbotnic.com/arqlite

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon  
  2. Rate 5 stars on Apple

Thanks so much! 

James

Net-zero energy communities – E64

Great to chat with Sean Rodrigues, CEO at Sky Blue Impact, Sky Blue Impact develops and arranges the funding for net-zero energy social housing communities in the USA and large scale net-zero energy communities in Africa! We discussed how to provide affordable housing addressing major climate issues, advantages the developing world has by starting with new tech from scratch and more!

https://carbotnic.com/skyblue

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon  
  2. Rate 5 stars on Apple

Thanks so much! 
James

What I Have Learned From Carbotnic – E63

Shorter episode this week as I am on vacation! I discuss what I have learned hosting the podcast over the last year, the podcast’s future direction and some personal news!

Remember, If you want to support the podcast there are two amazing ways!

  1. Subscribe to the Carbotnic patreon  
  2. Rate 5 stars on Apple

Thanks so much! 
James

Charge Your Car While You Eat! – E62

Great to chat with Rebecca Wolkoff, CTor at ChargeNet Stations, a cleantech SaaS company creating the EV charging experience of the future using renewable energy in fast food parking lots! We discussed the carbon footprint of solar energy storage, the lack of incentives to export the energy, how smart software can enable low energy prices, the biggest changes in the energy space and more!

https://carbotnic.com/chargenet

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418

Transforming waste into hydroponic nutrients – E 61

Great to chat with Tinia Pina, Founder & CEO of Re-Nuble, a company that uses organic cycling science technology to transform unrecoverable vegetative food byproducts into a platform of sustainable technologies for soilless farming! We discussed post-production farm waste, regional challenges in food waste, disconnection between consumers and farmers, VC investments and more!

https://carbotnic.com/renuble

Download Podcast Here: https://plinkhq.com/i/1518148418