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Donnel Baird

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), BlocPower; Board Member, The Climate Reality Project


Donnel Baird grew up in Brooklyn, New York, sharing a one-bedroom apartment with his family of four that was heated in the winter with a gas cooking stove. As an adult, Baird has dedicated his career to addressing the inequities he saw and experienced as a child — including as an organizer on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and in the Obama administration, where Baird worked to expand access to green energy jobs. In 2013, Baird launched BlocPower, a startup that markets, finances, and installs solar and energy-efficient technology in city buildings. Critically, BlocPower also trains and hires local vulnerable populations to do the green retrofitting, which includes installing smart, low-cost sensors and thermostats, and updating heating and cooling systems. To date, the company has completed energy projects in nearly a thousand buildings, helping small businesses, residential buildings, houses of worship, and nonprofits save 20%-40% on their energy bills each year. Today, BlocPower is helping communities harness the power of green building to confront the biggest crises of our time. As Baird explains, clean, energy-efficient buildings improve air quality, reduce rates of respiratory illness — which is a comorbidity with COVID-19 — create jobs, slash energy costs, and reduce economic inequality. “The challenges of climate change, economic recovery, public health, and racial inequity are all intertwined,” Baird says. “Green building technology offers scalable solutions for all of them.”
Donnel Baird