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Peter Rumsey and Alexis Karolies of Point/Energy Innovations

When we initiated this discussion of key elements, we thought of the basics of Light, Air, Energy and Design. SwiftEnvirons sat with Peter Rumsey and Alexis Karolides in this installment of our discussion leadership in innovation and sustainability.

Swift Environs: Your firm’s byline is “Energy 2.0”. Why is that so important?

Our feeling starting this company about 10 years ago was that buildings could be so much better than what they are. More comfortable, better air quality, better environment for people, and dramatically lower carbon emissions.

We have to reimagine everything in the built environment. 

As engineers and architects, we have a special responsibility in society – the built environment is responsible for 40% of US GHG emissions.

For us, the climate situation is a climate emergency

SwiftEnvirons: You have been so instrumental in improving the design of the built environent. What is you perspective on sustainability:

A bit of a trajectory – as we’ve progressed, we’ve taken those goals to the next level, where we’re really looking at not just net zero but decarbonization. Eliminating fossil fuels altogether with electrification.

That gets to the larger, UN goals – all that we do is intended to make systems affordable. Yes, homeowners, apartment buildings, but also for a developer to be able to install systems that offset/use less energy.

We’re working to make sustainability affordable and less complex, available to the masses so we can meet these climate goals in a way that can be broadcast across a large swath of types of projects and types of clients, even those who don’t have huge budgets.

SwiftEnvirons: With the unique nature of your firm, how do you approach getting the right staff for Project Management?

•Passion and interest in sustainability in one form or another. Passionate about making a difference addressing climate change.

•People who are strong communicators – they need to be able to explain complicated engineering concepts to people who aren’t necessarily familiar

•We are always looking for engineers who are creative. Creativity is an important part of innovation. Diversity – variety of perspectives and backgrounds.

SwiftEnvirons: Tell us about your international work:

A lot of people are talking about equitable decarbonization or equitable transition. If we’re going to roll this out globally we need to consider more than wealthy people being able to install solar on their homes

What Point Energy does is figure out how to make this practical and affordable. That’s the most important thing we can do as an engineering firm.

There’s a spirit of innovation in India right now India has <50% of the buildings they need by 2050; the US has 90%. India is more open to sustainability

SwiftEnvirons: How do your sustainability projects connect to community?

AIA HQ was the first certified – new program for grid-interactive buildings.

It’s helping the local community, people who need help lowering electric bills will get that relief.

The AIA is just donating the panels, not paying for installation. But all the solar/environmental attributes accrue to AIA, and the homeowners get the lower energy bill.

SwiftEnvirons: Share your final thought

Another thing we’re working on –

Stanford Building Decarbonization

Learning Accelerator (BDLA)

providing teaching material around building decarbonization, made available for free via Stanford.

BDLA focus so far has been professors at colleges and universities but over half of those who signed up to use the information are private sector – downloading information to either use internally or talk to their clients about building decarbonization.


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