Our Story

A Story of Energy and Passion

Brenden Millstein could not have known, when he first matched wits with Raphael Rosen in their kindergarten classroom, that he had actually found a match for his audacity and ambition. Or could he?

The two Berkeley natives not only became fast friends, they went on to become lab partners in middle school and later donned coats and goggles together in the physics department at Harvard University.

“He was the only one who could beat me at Minute Math.”

– Brenden Millstein, CEO

Meanwhile, as the Bay Area’s well-known progressive ideals left each of them with a strong environmental conscience, solving our climate crisis became a shared passion. After grad school and a few years in New York gathering skills in finance and energy, they each came to realize that the world can’t wait for a global kumbaya moment or breakthrough science.

People like to make money. Go figure.

They discovered they had everything they needed right in front of them—both the means and the motivation—to form a catalyst for change. “We didn’t need to wait for great technology innovations,” recalls Raphael. “Nor did we need to appeal to people to do the right thing. We could just give people money to switch to clean energy.

And that’s exactly what we do with Carbon Lighthouse—we make it profitable for large buildings to become carbon neutral by:


Using rigorous data collection and advanced analytics to continually refine our understanding of how to maximize impact


Deploying mature, cost-effective technologies and making the mechanical systems you already own operate more efficiently by implementing efficiency upgrades and layering in solar and lighting when it makes sense


Developing financial structures that overcome any barrier to an owner seeing real benefits, no matter what the right energy mix is for your building and no matter the lease types


Guaranteeing the results, because no one likes risk, and we want to completely de-risk the choice to go with us

Making carbon allowances disappear.

By purchasing pollution permits that get retired forever, we counterbalance whatever energy consumption is left in the building.

And to amplify the environmental impact of each customer engagement, Carbon Lighthouse also donates a portion of its earnings to its not-for-profit arm, the Carbon Lighthouse Association, which competes side-by-side with coal-burning plants for pollution permits—a.k.a., carbon allowances.


By permanently reducing the supply of allowances, retiring them instead of using those allowances to emit carbon dioxide, we not only eliminate our clients’ carbon footprints, but we also force utilities to use cleaner sources of power like solar, wind and natural gas instead of coal.

And by aggregating demand for carbon allowances, Carbon Lighthouse Association enables individuals, private, and public organizations to bid against utilities, power plants and other regulated entities for the limited supply of available allowances.

Getting climate solved

As we top the 600-building landmark, harnessing a capitalist’s motives to align our incentives has proven to be a visionary business model—and one that matters.

In California alone, every dollar we’re saving our customers reduces CO2 emissions by roughly 2.5 pounds, and dollar by dollar, state by state, we’ve already cut the emissions of 8 power plants. Now, only 47,000 to go…

Our vision relies on myriad points of data, but we bring them all together into one package that’s really, really simple—and above all, profitable—for our clients.

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