October 10, 2011 | last updated May 16, 2012 4:31 pm
FOCUS: Top Growth Companies

CSG Is Red Hot In A Growing Green Industry

You could say that the green industry is red hot right now. Just ask officials at Conservation Services Group in Westborough.

During the past two years, the nonprofit company has seen a 62-percent jump in revenues, launching itself into a $100 million organization and increasing its employee base in Central Massachusetts from 166 to 318.

With that growth, CSG has earned the distinction of being No. 1 on our list of top-growth nonprofits in the region for 2011.

Adam Parker, the company's executive vice president of regions, said that in the past few years, the values and benefits of energy efficiency improvements have crystallized in the eyes of the public, businesses, government officials and utility companies.

Saving energy is not only good for the environment, it's good for finances too, he said. So, in a time of penny pinching and scrounging for every last dollar, businesses that help improve energy efficiency – and, therefore, expenses for businesses, have an opportunity to thrive.

Founding Principles

Conservation Services Group was founded in 1984 as a non-profit business that helps utility companies run energy efficiency programs.

"CSG came from a community of people who were focused on the environment, social justice and the high cost of energy," Parker said. "One of our key solutions was to save energy rather than use more of it."

While the company has worked for more than 25 years on that mission, in the past few years there has been a steady wave of individual states around the country enacting policies that encourage or mandate energy efficiency work to be done.

That was the case in Massachusetts in 2008 when officials signed into law the Green Communities Act. The legislation created Mass Save, which is the main vehicle for utility companies to redirect money collected by ratepayers to help subsidize energy efficiency upgrades. CSG helps run the program for the major utility companies in the Bay State by coordinating the energy auditors who go into homes to do inspections and the contractors that do the installation work to make homes and businesses more energy efficient.

But CSG's relationship with Massachusetts utility companies dates back even further. The company has been contracted by National Grid since 1990 to help run energy efficiency programs, and in the past few years, the programs have increased in size.

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of energy audits managed by CSG on behalf of the utility company rose 40 percent and the number of contractors CSG works with to perform the energy upgrades tripled. In May, CSG was awarded a contract renewal to run the Mass Save program for National Grid and NStar through 2012.

"Everything we do as a utility is for the ultimate benefit of our customers and the communities we serve," said Edward White, vice president of eEnergy products at National Grid. "Leveraging CSG's market knowledge and experience allows us to offer an evolving and robust set of energy-efficient solutions to our residential gas and electric customers."

Because of the government's push to encourage energy efficiency programs like Mass Save, CSG has not been impacted by the national slowdown in the economy the past few years.

That doesn't mean the company hasn't felt the impact of external conditions, Parker said.

Customers have difficulty accessing credit, so some larger projects that can create even more efficiencies are delayed.

Plus, he said, political stalemates may prevent new policies from being enacted that would help encourage further energy-efficiency adoption, particularly at the national level. If that's the case, efficiency work could plateau in the near term, he said.

But the long-term outlook for the energy efficiency business is as strong as ever, he said.

"We're dealing with significant problems as a society," Parker said.

While new sources of energy will likely be needed in the future, the need to use less energy and become a more energy-efficient society will remain.

And CSG's mission has, and will continue to be, to help the environment and, in turn, the economy, to provide solutions that can help manage the energy needs of the future.

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