Make It in Brooklyn: NineDot
July 19, 2022
HQ: NYU Tandon Urban Future Labs (370 Jay St)
For NineDot Energy, the goal is to develop cheaper, cleaner, more resilient energy sources and technologies. Based in NYU’s Urban Future Lab, the NineDot team manages community-scale, clean energy projects in the New York City Metro area, ranging from battery installations to solar panels and EV (electric vehicle) chargers.
Adam Cohen, along with his two co-founders David Arfin and Nalin Kulatilaka, started the business in Washington, D.C in 2015 before relocating to Downtown Brooklyn in 2018. After moving to Brooklyn, the team redefined the organization, focusing primarily on battery energy storage and forming strategic partnerships with companies like Carlyle, Fermata and Brooklyn-based Revel. Collaboration plays a pivotal role in innovation, especially in the clean energy space, where the team can think through challenging problems and work towards executing them together.
In their work, NineDot serves two main constituencies: the immediate local community benefitting by making the power grid more stable and reliable, and also the community of subscribers who are typically based elsewhere. Many of New York’s buildings don’t have the physical space to install their own energy systems, but by subscribing, individuals or businesses can reap those benefits by collecting credits that reduce their own utility bills. Adam Cohen, co-founder and CTO of NineDot Energy shared that their business model works particularly well in New York City. As highlighted in their recent Wall Street Journal profile, the team identifies their work as a “boots on the ground” effort; walking the streets and understanding how their projects fit into the community is imperative.
2020 brought great uncertainty, but NineDot was able to remain busy while working on their first set of projects in Staten Island. The first year of the pandemic really highlighted the great need for clean energy projects, and local stakeholders are recognizing this shift as well. New York State set a target of 100% clean energy by 2040, and Governor Hochul recently doubled the state’s 2030 energy storage target.
The pandemic has brought a large shift in how people use real estate, particularly office space, which ultimately affected how electricity was being used. Now, there are fewer people commuting to Manhattan skyscrapers, but instead working from their outer borough homes. The electrical grid was not designed with that flexibility in mind, further highlighting the importance of the work of NineDot; distributed energy resources puts the power to the infrastructure closer to communities and gives way for that flexibility.
NineDot is enthusiastic about growing their team and business in Downtown Brooklyn. They are looking to expand their Operations and Engineering teams, as well as welcoming more interns. NineDot considers the neighborhood to be its home base; Downtown Brooklyn has been a big draw for their employees, in terms of ease of commute, great walkability, as well as the vibrant community itself.
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