Seeing the Light with Solar: Following a solar project from start to finish, identifying common pitfalls, and creating social impact

29 Sep 2023
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Seeing the Light with Solar: Following a solar project from start to finish, identifying common pitfalls, and creating social impact

Seeing the Light with Solar: Following a solar project from start to finish, identifying common pitfalls, and creating social impact

29 Sep 2023
About the speakers
  • Giuliana Kunkel
    Giuliana Kunkel
    Associate Director, ESG at MetLife Investment Management
    Giuliana (Giuls) Kunkel is an Associate Manager of ESG for MetLife Investment Management (MIM). At MIM, Giuls supports an equity portfolio of 30 billion AUM on all things ESG, particularly in managing solar projects and in driving energy efficiency opportunities as properties seek to decarbonize as part of MIM’s MetZeroTM Strategy. Under MetZero, MIM Real Estate has a goal of achieving a 50% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 and net zero operations by 2050. Prior to her time with MIM, Giuls worked for seven years at VEIC where she managed the firm’s contract with the Hawai’i Energy program in Honolulu, HI, and in DC, she served as a Senior Account Manager, driving energy efficiency in the affordable housing, federal government, commercial real estate, and higher education sectors. She is an accredited LEED AP O+M and a Certified Energy Manager (CEM).
  • Jeff Lesk
    Jeff Lesk
    President at New Partners Community Solar Corp.
    As Co-Founder and President of nonprofit New Partners Community Solar, Jeff Lesk helped launch the first community solar project in the District of Columbia. New Partners finances, develops, operates, and facilitates community solar arrays for the benefit of low-income households. This is a capstone of Jeff’s 40-year legal career as a Community Development lawyer, focused on developing and financing complex affordable housing, community development, historic preservation, and renewable energy transactions. One of the earliest LEED AP attorneys in the nation, Jeff’s practice also has included sustainable development. Jeff has been a frequent lecturer on his areas of expertise, including teaching Community Development Finance in the University of Maryland Master’s in Real Estate program. Jeff has co-chaired, moderated and spoken at Greenbuild Affordable Housing Forums, and he continues this educational focus on behalf of New Partners in a variety of contexts – promoting renewable energy, green development and finance, and Environmental Justice. Jeff and New Partners Community Solar continue to partner with nonprofit affordable housing sponsors, other NGOs, local government agencies, other solar companies, regulated utilities, real estate owners, financial institutions, and others to facilitate solar development for the benefit of our most vulnerable stakeholders.
  • Mansi Talwar
    Mansi Talwar
    Executive Director Utilities, Energy and Engineering at The George Washington University
    Mansi currently oversees all Utility, Energy and Engineering initiatives at The George Washington University. In her role she works on developing and implementing HVAC modernization, Energy and renewable energy projects across all GW campus in addition to energy and environmental compliance. All her projects are currently focused on infrastructure upgrade needs that leverage energy savings and universities 2030 Carbon Neutrality goal. She is also a member of DC Green Building Advisory Council. Prior to GW she designed and implemented utility energy efficiency programs at DC SUSTAINABLE ENERGY UTILITY for commerical and low Income buildings.
  • Drew Torbin
    Drew Torbin
    Founder & President at Black Bear Energy
    Drew Torbin is the Founder and President of Black Bear Energy Inc., the leading commercial buyer’s representative for onsite renewable energy. Black Bear is a tech enabled services firm which couples data driven procurement followed by guided execution. With support from RMI (formerly “Rocky Mountain Institute”) Mr. Torbin launched Black Bear in April of 2015 to accelerate the adoption of clean energy. In 2016, Black Bear raised a series A round led by Boulder Ventures. Since that time Drew and his team have facilitated renewable energy projects for many of the leading owners of commercial real estate. In the past seven years Black Bear has helped clients bid out over 2,000 clean technology projects in more than 20 states. In July of 2022, Black Bear was acquired by Legence, a Blackstone company. Legence is a purpose-built platform for decarbonization of the built environment. There, Drew and team continue their work of ruthlessly instigating positive change. Prior to starting Black Bear, Mr. Torbin founded and led the renewable energy group at the world’s largest industrial REIT. During his tenure the group deployed over 120 megawatts of distributed solar projects across seven countries. Before that, Mr. Torbin was an analyst and trader at Litchfield Capital Management, LLC, a U.S. equity long/short hedge fund, where he focused on the consumer cyclical sector. Mr. Torbin holds a B.S. from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a graduate of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Energy Executive Leadership Program and has served on several boards including that of the Colorado New Energy Improvement District.

Key takeaways

- Participants will be able to predict and navigate obstacles in the solar development process.

- Participants will be able to identify and evaluate the feasibility and return on investment (ROI) of onsite solar projects.

- Participants will be able to understand how to plan, execute, and maintain an onsite solar project.

- Participants will be able to evaluate available financing opportunities and models for solar, including leveraging federal, state, and local incentives and programs, including enhanced opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act.