CHICAGO —The Exelon Foundation and Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation’s largest generator of carbon-free energy and the largest energy service provider by customer count, have selected 10 startups to receive a combined $1 million in direct funding to develop new technologies to mitigate and build resiliency to the impacts of climate change in the inaugural year of the company’s $20 million Climate Change Investment Initiative (2c2iSM). The application process for year two is now open.
Led by the Exelon Foundation, the company’s nonprofit philanthropic organization, the initiative invests directly in the projects and people helping to address climate change mitigation and build resiliency to health and environmental pressures in under-resourced communities within Exelon’s service area. Startup applicants were also required to demonstrate how their projects would meaningfully advance state and local jurisdictions’ own sustainability goals under the US Climate Alliance.
“As the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy, we understand the important role we must play to help the communities we serve address the environmental and public health impacts of climate change,” said Chris Gould, Exelon Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer. “Now more than ever, it’s become clear that real, fundamental change often comes from taking action at the local level. We purposely designed the 2c2i initiative to support early-stage, often-overlooked startups with the potential to make a meaningful, on-the-ground impact on our communities’ climate goals, health and environment.”
Using an innovative new funding and support structure under 2c2i, the Exelon Foundation will invest $10 million over 10 years in early-stage startups working on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resiliency. Exelon Corporation will match those funds with up to a $10 million investment of in-kind services, including mentoring entrepreneurs on ways to access other sources of capital, structure business plans, allocate financial resources and meet regulatory requirements. Selected startups also will be able to tap the company’s internal innovation programs for counsel. Any return on investment will go back to the nonprofit Exelon Foundation to support its philanthropic mission.
Of the startups selected in the first round of funding, 50 percent are minority- or women-owned businesses, 60 percent of the projects are focused on greenhouse gas mitigation, 40 percent are addressing resiliency and adaptation, and all but one startup is either headquartered or already actively engaged in communities within Exelon’s service area. First-round startups will receive $100,000 each from the Exelon Foundation. They are:
The Washington, D.C.,-based startup designs, develops and delivers solar and battery storage solutions for affordable housing communities. The company has already completed 25 installations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, including the first resiliency center in the District installed at the Maycroft Apartments affordable housing complex in partnership with PEPCO. Amidus Resilience plans to expand to more affordable housing resiliency centers, giving residents electricity to access to lighting, communications, food heating, ventilation, medicine refrigeration and charging capabilities for life-saving medical devices during power outages from extreme weather or other disruptions. In addition to helping under-resourced communities with access to clean and resilient energy, the startup’s projects will also rely on local trades for installation jobs. Amidus Resilience will work with Exelon to identify more affordable housing communities for resiliency centers in the District.
ATP-MD, an African American-owned and Maryland-based startup, uses two innovative, patented and cost-effective processes that generate multiple environmental benefits using specially-bred, non-invasive plants (bio-crops) and their resulting biomass. The startup’s Vertical Bio-Crop Farms will capture carbon from large emission sources, and crops planted in brownfield sites and vacant lots will filter atmospheric pollutants and remove contaminants from the soil. ATP-MD then converts biomass into a variety of environmentally beneficial bio-products, including filler powders that make better-performing plastics, animal bedding, and biochars that improve soil productivity. In recent field tests, ATP-MD’s bio-crops have been shown to remove excess nutrients from Chesapeake Bay watershed farmland, helping to improve the health of the Bay’s ecosystem. Working with Exelon, ATP-MD plans to identify project sites in Baltimore’s under-resourced communities, helping to create a safer and healthier environment, creating new local manufacturing jobs and advancing the city’s ambitious climate and sustainability goals.
BlocPower is an African American-owned technology company that developed a software platform for analyzing, financing, monitoring and managing clean energy projects, allowing building owners to identify and complete energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in urban communities. These projects help lower energy bills for residents, provide good local construction and installation jobs, reduce the carbon footprint and increase resiliency. The Brooklyn-based startup has completed energy projects in over 1000 buildings in New York State. With Exelon’s support, BlocPower aims to complete similar projects in the under-resourced communities of other cities, including retrofits to multi-family affordable housing in partnership with the Philadelphia Energy Authority. The clean energy projects that BlocPower completes have the added benefit of helping cities and states meet their climate goals, create jobs, and advance environmental justice.
With a recently opened field office in Baltimore, minority-owned startup Dynamhex has developed a software platform leveraging complex energy consumption data that enables close collaboration among a range of city, community and utility stakeholders to achieve local carbon-reduction goals. The Kansas City-based startup is currently partnering with the City of Baltimore to enhance implementation, execution and progress-tracking in support of the city’s Climate Action Plan. Working with Exelon, Dynamex plans to expand the application of its platform in Baltimore, then D.C. and eventually to other cities within Exelon’s service territory. By facilitating enhanced modeling communication, engagement, education and cooperation, their powerful platform can help local jurisdictions and states achieve ambitious climate goals.
Based in Chicago, Greenprint Partners is a certified woman-owned/B-Corporation that reduces water pollution and flooding by working with water utilities and landowners to design, build, finance and maintain high-impact green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). Greenprint is already working with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City Clean Waters initiative, seeking to more equitably disburse funds and high-impact stormwater management projects to underinvested areas. GSI improvement projects like bioswales, rain gardens and tree trenches --- particularly in low-to-moderate income communities --- provide healthier environments and local contractor jobs. Greenprint plans to work with Exelon and local government to expand its project development to communities in Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities, helping them to meet their climate and resiliency goals.
Philadelphia-based startup GrowFlux is a horticultural tech company that specializes in data-driven cultivation technology and offers an ecosystem of commercial-scale, wireless controls and sensors enable emerging indoor farms and automated greenhouses. GrowFlux has deployed its technology at Second Chances Farm in Wilmington, DE, which hires formerly incarcerated people, providing training and green collar jobs in economically distressed communities. Building on the Second Chances Farm project, GrowFlux will seek to further deploy their technology for Controlled Environment Agriculture farms in Philadelphia and other cities in Exelon’s service area to meet their sustainability goals. The projects will help reduce GHG emissions and water consumption, provide sustainable, locally grown healthy food, repurpose disused commercial buildings and provide job creation and training through agri-tech programs.
Based in Chicago, NETenergy is an minority-owned thermal energy storage company that has created a unique hybrid energy storage/air conditioner technology with the potential to reduce peak energy demand by over 50%, reduce peak energy consumption by 20%, and reduce overall energy consumption by more than 10% over standard air conditioners. The technology reduces emissions by leveraging both renewable energy and more efficient conventional primary energy sources. The startup will initially work with Exelon to identify potential project locations in Chicago’s under-resourced communities to help small businesses save money on energy bills while reducing emissions. With growth, NETenergy plans to expand into other cities, helping them to meet climate goals, expand access to energy storage and reduce urban heat islands -- often located in under-resourced communities – with their innovative, cost-effective cooling technology.
With offices in Baltimore and Wilmington, DE, Boston-based New Ecology has developed a remote monitoring and optimization (ReMO) system to improve the performance of buildings with central boilers. New Ecology seeks to deploy this technology primarily in the oft-overlooked affordable, multifamily housing sector. Partnering with Exelon, New Ecology will scale the installation of ReMO by extending outreach efforts into low-income, multi-family building owners in Chicago, Philadelphia and Wilmington. Deployment of the ReMO systems will help cities meet sustainability goals while providing owners with better operational insight and reduced utility costs.
Propagate Ventures has developed an analytics and project development platform that reduce the cost and provide the resources needed for agroforestry, which is the strategic integration of fruit, nut and timber trees with agriculture crops to ensure long term resiliency. Propagate Ventures’ solution contributes to the economic and environmental sustainability of rural communities by increasing profitability of farmland through diversified crop yields and supporting healthy soil and carbon sequestration with agroforestry. In partnership with Exelon, the Hudson Yards-based startup will expand beyond current projects in and Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay region, by investing in agroforestry farms surrounding one or more of the cities in Exelon’s service territory. These projects will help both urban and rural communities achieve their goals to sequester carbon, create a secure food supply, improve community health through the provision of fresh food and increase biodiversity.
Radiator Labs invented the Cozy™, a wireless, low-cost and easily installed retrofit that drops on top of steam heat radiators, providing a solution to the chronic problem of uneven heating in apartment buildings. Installation throughout a building can save up to 45 percent in heating costs and reduce GHG emissions by an average of 25 percent. In partnership with Exelon, Brooklyn-based Radiator Labs plans to deploy their innovative solution in steam-heated multi-family housing units – often located in under-resourced areas - in Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia, helping these cities to meet their ambitious climate goals and improving the health and comfort of tenants.
The Exelon Foundation and Exelon Corporation are now accepting startup applications for year two of 2c2i. In partnership with Freshwater Advisors, 2c2i leaders are actively scouting for promising new startups and projects within Exelon’s service territory. To qualify for consideration, applicants must demonstrate that their projects will benefit one or more of Exelon’s six major urban markets (Atlantic City, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, DE.), support work in under-resourced communities and have the potential to do one of the following:
- Mitigate greenhouse gas emissions;
- Boost the resiliency of urban infrastructure (e.g., the power grid, transportation systems, buildings, vacant land) against flood, stormwater and rising temperatures;
- Help cities, businesses and communities adapt to climate change; or
- Help achieve a state or city’s sustainability and climate goals.