Designing energy efficient buildings and an inclusive clean energy industry
Working at the intersection of multiple objectives is par for the course for Burch Energy Services. An energy engineering firm, Burch Energy seeks to improve the way buildings use energy and create a more inclusive clean energy industry.
“We have to change something for the next generation,” said Founder and President David Burchfield. “Whether we’ll be successful or not I don’t know yet—but I know that we can’t do it unless everybody gets involved. There’s plenty of work out there.”
To that end, the firm is assisting Energy Trust in developing a new Contractor Development Pathway, which gives minority- and women-owned contractor businesses the resources and support to help them succeed in the clean energy industry. Having been a part of the team shaping the program from its inception, Burch Energy is now helping to administer it by assessing, supporting and training participants and adapting the program over time as team members learn what works and what can be improved on.
As a majority Black-owned company—David and two of the firm’s four co-owners are Black—a core part of the firm’s philosophy is a commitment to helping minority-owned businesses join the energy efficiency industry. “We want to help other minority contractors navigate the hurdles more easily than we did,” said David.
Outside of their work on the Contractor Development Pathway, Burch Energy helps building owners understand their facilities’ energy use and find ways to make them more energy efficient. The firm works on primarily existing commercial, government and industrial buildings, studying how the building uses energy and designing custom solutions to improve that building’s performance.
By leveraging Energy Trust cash incentives, Burch Energy helps its customers reduce equipment upgrade costs and the cost of performing the studies, but the help doesn’t stop there. By digging deep and identifying as many energy-savings opportunities as possible, Burch Energy customers can often receive higher incentives for their energy upgrades than they would otherwise. At the end of the day, the business helps its clients reduce their environmental impact and save money on energy bills by making their buildings more efficient.
The firm’s current projects include retrofitting three Portland buildings (including a church and a public school) and developing a prototype of a system that uses indoor air quality sensors and public health information to automatically adjust a building’s ventilation system for maximum efficiency.
With the firm and the industry growing, David is hopeful that multiple goals can be realized together.
“Talking with the people in the communities where I grew up, I can say: ‘There’s an awesome opportunity here for you to feed your family in a way that is righteous, that helps the world, and at the same time will help put money into our communities; making money doing something you love can’t be beat.”