Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Entrepreneur: Student Runs Energy Audit Company

For most students, full-time study is enough work. Not so for M.S. candidate Matthew Christie. Having founded Radiant Energy Audits last summer with Will Davis, a civil engineer in Wilder, Vermont, Christie spends his spare time performing energy audits on houses in New Hampshire and Vermont to help homeowners lower energy costs, improve comfort, and reduce carbon footprints.

Christie was already certified as an energy auditor when he started his master’s studies on energy technologies. After taking Professor Charles Sullivan’s power electronics course and an entrepreneurship course at Tuck School of Business, Christie considered forming an energy auditing company. When he met Davis playing ultimate Frisbee, the two also tossed around business plans. “Eventually we said, ‘Let’s actually try doing this,’ ” Christie says.

Christie and Davis perform approximately four audits per month, assessing where a house is leaking energy and heat and looking at air quality and for advanced signs of water damage, mold, and other health and comfort issues. “Then comes the fun part,” Christie says: inspecting attics and crawl spaces to check insulation and air seals. “What we’re looking for is more cost-effective measures that you can do to your house right away without totally invasive or destructive reconstruction. The two simplest remedies: seal and insulate those attics.”

Although he saves his clients money, making money isn’t Christie’s main objective. “A lot of the reason for starting Radiant was to learn how to start a business — figuring out insurance, accounting, and how to form an LLC,” he says. “We’re just trying to make enough money to pay for the equipment we bought.”

Christie says that after he graduates, he will most likely turn Radiant over to Davis. His own goal is to work with a firm or start another business that offers reconstruction in addition to audits. “I really feel that in terms of battling climate change and reducing carbon footprints, efficiency is the first step, by far,” he says, “and the technologies are here now.”

—Elizabeth Kelsey

Categories: The Great Hall, Entrepreneur

Tags: curriculum, energy, entrepreneurship, students

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