Green Tech Companies Thrive in Richmond

The City of Richmond has long been associated with industry. During World War II, it was home to one of the most important shipbuilding operations on the West Coast. Richmond is still a city of industry, but its character has changed. Now a leader in sustainable policies, energy efficiency, and green workforce training, Richmond has much to offer to new and existing green businesses.

As the following businesses demonstrate, “green” is the new gold along Richmond’s I-580 corridor.

Advanced Home Energy (AHE) helps homeowners reduce their bills and their carbon footprint through heating and cooling, insulation and general construction services. Ori Skloot, former Haas Scholar at the UC Berkeley, is the company's President and CEO. Skloot is excited about Energy Upgrade California, a state energy savings rebate program in which AHE is a participating contractor.

"The program awards up to $4,000 for energy efficiency upgrades, which makes it easier for homeowners to upgrade and make their homes more healthy, efficient and comfortable," Skloot said. Rebates will be awarded to the first 500 homes on a first-come, first-served basis.

Skloot has no plans to move AHE away from Richmond, its home since 2009. "We feel like there's a really good market in the East Bay of homeowners interested in energy efficiency," he explained. "And our Richmond location gives us great access to the entire Bay Area." AHE is currently hiring for its audit and field teams.

Established in 1976, Heliodyne is one of America's oldest manufacturers of solar hot water equipment for residential and commercial hot water use. Ole Pilgaard, President and CEO, said that the company has many projects in the pipeline for 2011. The company recently announced that several new residential Heliodyne products have been tested and approved by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC).

Pilgaard identified several advantages to the company's East Bay location. "The Bay Area is further ahead in terms of thermal solar than other areas in California, and that's one reason why it's attractive for us to be here."  

Further down the I-580 Corridor, Intellergy is also gearing up for a busy year. The company's patented 'bio-refinery' employs technology that converts organic matter into products like hydrogen, biodiesel and ethanol additives. Richard Noling, President and CEO, said that the company is currently working on proposals that will use its technology to process bio solids, crop and dairy waste, and medical waste.

"We believe Intellergy has the most efficient conversion of waste to energy available,” Noling said. "It is also the most ecologically safe and friendly technology for disposing of organic waste with no combustion or harmful emissions." 

Noling and his team believe that Richmond is the ideal location for the company. "Richmond ... is in the center of a group of 'green' companies working together with an eco-friendly atmosphere and encouragement from the city government as well as access to resources from the University of California, Berkeley and the many graduates that are working in the green technology field."

PAX Water
PAX Water is based on the concept of biomimicry - the emulation of nature in the design of human products and systems. The company uses energy-efficient water mixing and circulation technology to help municipal water agencies save water, save energy, and reduce the chemicals in drinking water. 

CEO Peter Fiske, PhD, is confident that the East Bay is the right place for his company. "We are experiencing tremendous growth with our flagship product, the PAX Water Mixer, while simultaneously developing new technological applications for the drinking water market," Fiske said.  "This is our preferred location because of its access to talent.  We also enjoy being clustered near other green and innovative companies, and we are enjoying the recreational and public transportation benefits of Richmond." 

SunPower designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial, and utility-scale power plant customers. Sunpower chose to locate its East Bay facility at the historic Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond because it gave them the opportunity to work in an architecturally significant, unique waterfront space that could accommodate the company's growth and support its corporate culture.  

Corporate Communications Director Ingrid Ekstrom feels that the landmark building's place in a redevelopment district "helps serve [the company's] commitment to environmental responsibility and creative re-use."  

In a recent interview with the Green Corridor, Ekstrom said, "we’re proud to be creating new jobs in the Bay Area, and manufacturing solar panels here in California will allow SunPower to more quickly and cost-effectively supply SunPower panels to solar installations at homes, commercial and public facilities, and power plants throughout the Western U.S."

Alion is a three year-old solar module company focused on research, development and manufacturing of thinfilm photovoltaic solar panels. Its mission is to forge a sustainable future by reducing the cost of solar energy and to produce the lowest cost solar panels on the market with unique printing technology.   Anders Swahn, President and CEO, reports that Alion is "continuing to expand at a rapid pace."  

Swahn chose to locate the company in Richmond "because it is a very good location from an access point of view and has a good inventory of valuable real estate." He added that the City of Richmond "is very cooperative and wants manufacturing clean tech businesses [to locate there]."

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