178 179 Business View Magazine recently had a candid discussion with Jeffrey Perlman, Founder and President of Bright Power, who has turned his expertise and passion for environmental preser- vation into a thriving business that is changing cityscapes and doing its part to save the planet. The following is an edited transcript of that con- versation. BVM: How did Bright Power come into being? Perlman: “I started the company at the end of 2004, after having previously done consultant work and high-level analysis on the cost benefits of green buildings. In college, I bought a so- lar-powered car and later worked with a company installing solar panels. I saw there were opportu- nities in putting renewables on buildings, par- ticularly solar, although at that time solar panels prices were inflated, and people thought they were too expensive. There was a lot of waste and a lot of ability to make buildings run more effi- ciently and do it more cost effectively than solar. “My initial idea was to marry these things together. I started working with building owners to make an economic case for both efficiency and renewables in New York City buildings. That was the concept, but we didn’t have a particular market niche we were working with - just talking to whoever would listen. I was 25 at the time and had more gumption than experience. But after a couple years, I began to understand the architec- tural landscape of NYC and that the vast majority is apartment buildings. “So we focused on multi-family/apartment buildings, including affordable housing where we could have a powerful impact. That was a nice benefit –whether saving energy in somebody’s apartment, so their bills are lower, or reducing consumption in the building as a whole and therefore cutting operating expenses and pre- BRIGHT POWER, INC. venting the need to raise rents. Today, half our work is with affordable housing and half is with market-rate housing; as well as a small percent- age that doesn’t pertain to apartment buildings. “In the late 2000s, we started working with groups that had national housing portfolios and realized that when you get out of NYC, where there isn’t the density of apartment buildings, that there aren’t many companies focused on making those types of buildings operate more efficiently with renewables. Having cut our teeth in NYC, the epicenter of apartment buildings, we learned that the city was unique, and the exper- tise we’d developed there allowed us to offer what we do across the country.” BVM: Who are your typical customers? Perlman: “We work primarily with building owners. Most of the affordable housing is private- ly owned, and we liaise with government agen- cies that provide tax credits, low-cost mortgages, etc., for affordable housing owners. Our clients are typically non-profits, or for-profit owners that develop the housing, but we have good relation- ships in New York with the Housing Development Corporation, the Housing Preservation Develop- ment Agency, and the Department of Housing and Community Renewal. The majority of our work is in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, with a bit in California, and every state has its own affordable housing agencies. “Bright Power started as a consulting firm to real estate owners, giving advice on how to reduce energy usage and install solar panels.