One Ingenious Solution for Reducing Emissions, Energy Costs: Interview with WexEnergy

Medium Thursday, February 25th 2021

We recently spoke with Dynamo’s new cleantech member WexEnergy to learn more about their cost-effective energy efficiency solution for the built environment. Dynamo Community Director Natalia Sharova interviewed Rachel Rosen, President and CEO of WexEnergy based in Rochester, New York. 

Hi Rachel, thank you for finding time in your busy schedule to speak with me today. Let’s dive right in. Tell me about your background and how you got involved with WexEnergy?

I often introduce myself as a recovering landlord, having been a property manager, a building owner, and a developer, for almost 30 years. I connect with my customers on a visceral level because I’ve been in their shoes. I’m also a born and bred New Yorker, I live upstate now but my kids are mostly in the city area and that’s really a home base for us and for WexEnergy.

Tell us about your energy efficiency solution, the thought process behind it, and how it can benefit your customers?

Like many good ideas, WindowSkin was born out of a real need. Ron Wexler, WexEnergy’s Founder, was working in his office and the room had seven windows which were terrible; they didn’t keep the heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer. Ron started to think about how he could solve this problem without replacing windows because that is a very expensive option.

If you have a down jacket and know how it has those little pockets of air, that’s what your double-pane window is. A double-pane window is two panes of glass with air in between. Having this pocket of air helps with heat/cool loss. New windows today actually come with an inert gas in between like argon, and that gas dissipates over time. Our solution WindowSkin is a transparent insulation panel that snaps onto your window, creating a gap between your window and your fitted WindowSkin, which gives you better insulation and makes you more comfortable throughout the year (not to mention saves you money on energy and reduces energy waste, thus cutting CO2 emissions).

What sets you apart from other solutions on the market?

There are quite a few things that set us apart:

1. The low cost of our solution. We are 70% less expensive than the nearest interior retrofit, and our solution is only 10–15% the cost of new replacement windows.

2. We optimize the insulation gap. It’s about ½”, and because we mount right onto the glass of the window, we can control that gap.

3. Our installation is very simple. It takes about 5 minutes to install two WindowSkins. For people who live in older and maybe historic buildings, there’ll be a lot of lead paint in the windows, and there could be asbestos caulking. Because of the way WindowSkin is attached, we don’t disturb underlying site conditions that could be really expensive to remediate and could create some environmental issues for people who are living and working in that space.

Who do you work with and who are your clients?

We’re a B2B company; we work with business owners, property managers, and we’re developing channel partners, like window distributors or energy advisory firms. We’re not yet ready to work directly with home-owners and renters, but you can go to our website and register for our newsletter. We’ll get in touch with you when we’re ready to enter your market or have a partner serving your neighborhood.

How can WindowSkins help cities like New York decarbonize?

When it comes to CO2 emissions from the built environment, the number worldwide is about 39–40% of the total emissions, but in NYC it’s over 70%. If you think about how big and tall the buildings are in New York…there’s a lot of windows! Plus, there’s plenty of old buildings with outdated and inefficient insulation. The New York City Council passed a law called Local Law 97, or The Climate Mobilization Act, to curb emissions from the built environment. If your building is over 25,000 sq. ft and meets some other criteria, your building is required to reduce carbon emissionsThe requirements will kick in soon, in 2024, which is not a lot of time for the building owners to make significant emissions cuts and energy efficiency improvements. There’s a small number of buildings that are impacted now, and the majority will be impacted in 2030. Reducing emissions in NYC will be a big goal that most buildings will have to deal with.

“The good news is when you reduce your carbon emissions you are also reducing energy costs.”

It’s hard to see your carbon emissions. Whether the building is paying for the heat, or the tenants are, or some combination thereof, the building is going to notice when they start to make energy efficiency improvements. They will reduce building carbon emissions, they will be reducing energy usage, and by that, they will be reducing costs. Plus, cutting emissions through better energy efficiency will allow building owners/property managers to avoid penalties associated with LL97.

What are you most excited for in 2021?

We are vey excited about the new product that we’re bringing to market, which is really important in the B2B world: it’s a tamper-resistant WindowSkin, and it addresses windows that needed clearance of up to 3/8”. Landlords want to know if they put this on the windows that it’s going to be there and it’s actually going to make a difference: making tenants more comfortable and reducing costs. We’re also very excited in the work we are doing in the B2C market that’s going to get us closer to the individual homeowner as we develop an app that’s going to make it very easy to measure and order WindowSkins. We were just approved for a ConEdison pilot, with a Small-to-Medium business group, so if you are on LinkedIn on our website, we are going to be putting out announcements and information.

To learn more, please visit WexEnergy website and sign up for the newsletter.

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