Skip to content

Kresge commits $3 million via guarantee into climate tech firm BlocPower

Environment, Social Investment Practice

Investment key to partnership with Ithaca, N.Y. to lead city to full decarbonization by 2030

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Kresge Foundation today announced it has committed a $3-million guarantee to BlocPower, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based climate tech firm. This investment contributed to BlocPower’s announcement this month that it will serve as the lead firm in a new public-private partnership to decarbonize 6,000 buildings throughout Ithaca, N.Y.

An event highlighting this news took place today at the Southside Community Center in Ithaca and featured Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis, BlocPower BlocPower’s Chief of Engineering Dom Lempereur, Ithaca’s Director of Sustainability Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres, and Kresge Social Investment Portfolio Director Joe Evans, who spoke about the leadership role Ithaca has taken as it moves closer to its goal of carbon-neutrality by 2030. The partnership between BlocPower and the City of Ithaca represents the first large-scale, city-wide building electrification initiative in the U.S.

“This investment intrigued us because it included a unique opportunity to support the first “whole city” approach to electrification. We’re excited to bolster that effort as a model for other cities to learn from and emulate,” Evans said. “Also, we know that supporting mission-driven entities like BlocPower is important because how dollars flow into a community makes a distinct difference in whether they will be truly responsive to community needs.”

Residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore must be a focus in any comprehensive approach to combatting climate change. Likewise, low-income communities and communities populated primarily by Black, Indigenous and People of Color experience the impacts of climate change most severely, so centering these communities and people is also key to climate justice and effectively slowing the negative impacts of climate change.

Kresge’s investment aims at both of these challenges by allowing BlocPower to scale its work to improve efficiency and reduce on-site fossil fuel use in buildings, especially in low-income communities. Ithaca has also committed to ensuring at least 50% of the economic, social and environmental benefits of its Green New Deal, which includes this project, will directly impact disadvantaged communities.

BlocPower estimates that installing air source heat pumps, paired with supporting energy efficiency upgrades and other building improvements throughout the city will cut Ithaca’s 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions by 40% and create 400 jobs in green construction, technology and management.

Kresge’s guarantee, made in partnership between its Social Investment Practice and Environment Program, is a tool that helps brings traditional investors to the table by removing a degree of risk in the transaction. This investment supports a loan-loss reserve fund capitalized by the NYSERDA. This guarantee will also support BlocPower’s work in other cities across the nation.