August 13, 2015
UtilityScore at Inman Conference
Real estate professionals kept us hopping at last week’s Inman Connect conference in San Francisco. A steady stream of visitors representing listing portals, MLSs, brokers, lenders, agents, and technology companies stopped by the booth to learn how UtilityScore provides projected utility costs for single-family properties.
Brian Gitt, founder of UtilityScore (also known as BKi’s President & CEO), took the tool through its paces in a video demonstration, noting how a score can be refined based on key lifestyle choices, and how it can be compared to the utility costs of neighboring homes.
Inman conference goers quickly grasped the value of this information and how it would help clients be better prepared for owning a home.
July 20, 2015
Toilet Flushing on TV?
It was all for a good cause as BKi’s WaterGenius, “a one-stop-shop to save money and conserve water,” jumped into the spotlight on CBS Sacramento’s New at 5:00 feature this past week.
Brian Gitt, BKi’s President & CEO, showed Sacramento homeowners Arik Levy and Jessica Haapanen how WaterGenius could quickly estimate their water savings and locate any rebates for toilets, showerheads, faucets, appliances, and landscaping.
“I’d love to do things that help reduce the amount of water that we use in the yard,” Arik commented.
Presto! WaterGenius found a Sacramento rebate for converting an irrigated front lawn, and pulled up two other rebate offers as well.
“When you move into a new house, you don’t know what your operating costs are going to be,” Arik said.
We can be sure Brian told him about UtilityScore, BKi’s solution to that problem, which also received mention as the news segment ended.
July 8, 2015
UtilityScore Launches to Help California House Hunters Identify Hidden Costs
BKi has launched UtilityScore to help house hunters gauge monthly utility bills before purchasing a new home. The free online tool serves major metropolitan areas in California by providing a simple way to identify the estimated monthly and annual utility costs of single-family properties.
As Patti Frey, a realtor with Vanguard Properties in San Francisco observed, “Today’s house hunters don’t want surprises when it comes to the cost of a new home. They are becoming savvier about the need to assess the lifetime cost of a property, as opposed to just the list price. UtilityScore helps me help my clients see beyond a property’s list price and consider projected utility costs before they buy.”
“We’ve heard from many people how utility bills significantly impact their budgets. It’s best to be informed on this issue before closing on a new home.”Brian Gitt, BKi President and CEO
UtilityScore factors in a home’s local electric, natural gas, and water and sewer rates, and provides instant cost predictions based on personal usage habits and home characteristics. Homebuyers can also see how a selected home measures up to others in the same area.
UtilityScore can be customized for businesses to enhance their websites and mobile applications in a variety of ways. To request access to the UtilityScore API, go to http://myutilityscore.com/site – professional.
BKi will be expanding UtilityScore across the major metro areas in the United States in the near future, and will be looking to partner with real estate listing websites.
July 6, 2015
WaterGenius Finds Savings on Morning Show
“That’s a Cha Ching!” reporter Melissa Cabral remarked as Brian Gitt, BKi’s president and CEO, took WaterGenius through its paces on the Good Day Sacramento show this Monday morning.
During a live broadcast from a Sacramento home, Brian demonstrated how WaterGenius—a free online tool—quickly helps Californians find water savings and rebates. For Sacramento homeowners, WaterGenius found rebates that could go as high as $1,400 for a combination of high-efficiency toilets, clothes washers, and lawn conversions.
“I had no idea that you can save all this money.”Melissa Cabral, Reporter for Good Day Sacramento
As Brian noted about water bills, “There’s a lot of savings to be had. They get to save every year once they install these water-efficient fixtures and appliances.”
To explore your local water-saving options, visit WaterGenius.com and type in your city.
June 10, 2015
Jennifer Hamilton Wins DOE Award for Hydrogen First Responder Training and Safety Codes & Standards
In recognition of outstanding achievements in hydrogen safety outreach activities and the development of hydrogen first responder training, BKi’s Jennifer Hamilton was presented with an award from U.S. Department of Energy EERE. During the awards ceremony at the Annual Merit Review in Washington D.C., DOE’s Will James said, “Jennifer has been an outstanding leader in the area of hydrogen safety and outreach.“
Jennifer has been leading outreach and education to first responders and permitting officials for the California Fuel Cell Partnership since 2006. Through her work, she has reached thousands in California communities that have or will have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and stations. Recently she, along with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, created the online National Hydrogen Safety Training Resource for Emergency Responders. Jennifer has a working relationship with the California Office of the State Fire Marshal, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Fire Academy, and the National Fire Protection Association for implementing first responder education. She also actively participates in various safety, codes, and standards groups including SAE International, CSA Group, and ISO on efforts related to vehicle and fueling station safety.
Congratulations to Jennifer on a well-deserved award!
June 2, 2015
BKi Launches WaterGenius to Help Californians Save Water and Money During the Drought
Amid the mandatory water restrictions and utility bill hikes Californians face as the state experiences extreme drought, BKi has launched WaterGenius.com—a free online tool that helps homeowners identify the smartest ways to save water and money.
“We’ve created an easy-to-use tool that gives homeowners the data they need to make smart water and money saving choices.” Brian Gitt, BKi President & CEOBased on a user’s city and water utility, WaterGenius produces customized cost and savings estimates for multiple home improvements such as drought-tolerant landscaping and low-flow fixtures. Information on available rebates, top-rated products, and local contractors supports moving forward with the water and money savings improvements.
Filling a Knowledge Gap
According to a statewide poll commissioned by the Association of California Water Agencies, over 90% of Californians are willing to make “significant changes” to decrease their water use. However, significantly fewer people know how to go about generating water savings in their homes.
BKi designed WaterGenius to deliver information that can be tailored to each user’s circumstances. In addition to cost and savings estimates based on local utility rates and rebates, the tool can factor in lifestyle and usage data such as lawn size or the number of loads of laundry per week. Thus, WaterGenius zeros in on improvements that make the most sense for each individual household.
Now available online at WaterGenius.com, the tool will be released as an app for iPhone and Android in the coming months.
Wanted: Santa Clara County Employers Interested in Helping Employees Save Water
Large employers in Santa Clara County can help their employees conserve water in their homes this summer by participating in an innovative employee rewards contest.
Funded in part by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, WaterGenius Challenge is open to any company with over 1,000 employees based in Santa Clara County.
Using the WaterGenius online tool, employees of participating companies will gain customized recommendations for water and money saving improvements and easy access to local rebates, financing, and professionals. A dashboard interface will let employees compare their savings as they undertake improvements, and an entire company can watch as its collective water savings increase.
“A drought of this magnitude requires innovation. Whether it’s through rebates, conservation tips, online tools like WaterGenius, or new programs like the Silicon Valley WaterGenius Challenge, we are exhausting all opportunities to reach our local water use reduction target of 30 percent.” Jerry De La Piedra, Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Water Use Efficiency Manager
And the Winners Are . . .
Prizes for employees with the greatest water savings will be made within each company, and companies will earn special recognition from the District and WaterGenius media partners for helping during the California drought. Still, it doesn’t take a “genius” to conclude that everyone who participates will come out a winner when their water savings translate into savings on their utility bills.
Companies interested in participating in a WaterGenius Challenge can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Trio of Wins Launch BKi Teams into Novel Projects
Charging Stations for PEVs
BKi’s Transportation Team will be supporting California’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) infrastructure under a contract from the PEV Collaborative to lead an engagement campaign for large multi-unit portfolio managers. The project, which will encourage installation of electric vehicle charging stations at multi-unit dwellings throughout California, will conduct outreach to large portfolio executives, as well as providing education and information at conferences, via webinars, and through media.
Home Energy Score Uptake in the Bay Area
BKi’s Efficiency Team will head up a regional green building labeling program for the larger Bay Area under a new contract from the Bay Area Regional Energy Network. BKi will adapt the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score (HES) tool and program delivery model to the Bay Area, and encourage support of HES at point-of-home-sale by fostering uptake through Realtor and home inspector trade groups. BKi will design and implement the score reporting and QA/QC throughout the Bay Area.
“Our partnership with Santa Clara Valley Water District on the Water Challenge shows the power of joint public/private partnerships. Coming in the midst of California’s current drought, this new initiative for employee engagement has the potential to achieve significant, scalable water and energy savings. ”Chris Bradt, BKi Program Manager
Employee Engagement in Water/Energy Savings
In a second effort, the Efficiency Team will develop a pilot program, titled Water Challenge, for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The Team will conduct outreach to recruit two large companies to participate in a one-year program that recognizes and rewards employees who succeed in lowering their domestic water and energy consumption. High-impact water saving improvements such as drought tolerant landscaping and high-efficiency toilets will be among the measures employees can adopt.
BKi Starts the New Year with a New President & CEO
Brian joined BKi in 2009, coming to us after transforming Build It Green from a one-person shop into one of the country’s fastest growing green building NGOs. “Brian’s work has energized the green building community,” said GreenPoint Rater Robert Harold.
“This is an exciting time at BKi. We’re planning great things in the coming few months and are excited about the future of the company.”Brian
Brian’s first assignment at BKi was to lead the design and implementation of over $60M in ARRA-funded local government building energy upgrade programs for Los Angeles County, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the California statewide Retrofit Ramp-Up Team. He was soon overseeing BKi’s entire portfolio of energy and water efficiency programs. Currently, he is focusing on innovations in software, finance, and business models to tackle the fundamental issues of energy, water, and climate change.
Rich Myhre continues as Vice President, overseeing our fossil energy and transportation programs. Steve Culbertson was appointed the new Principal Partner and will continue to head up the Los Angeles Office.