Prospering Company: Strategic Energy Solutions

It isn’t everyone who can boast about being ahead of the global curve.

But Steve DiBerardine, owner and president of Strategic Energy Solutions in Berkley, can boast to having a passion for green technology before most engineering firms knew what that meant.

“We were green when green was just a color,” says DiBerardine, who founded the engineering design firm in 1997.

More than a decade later, Strategic Energy Solutions is at the forefront of sustainable heating and cooling technology, especially for commercial businesses. The company also specializes heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems design; boiler and chilled water systems design; plumbing; fire protection; and other associated mechanical systems and alternative energy systems.

“That’s been what’s differentiated us from other businesses,” says DiBerardine. “It’s been our expertise in this field.”

Recently the company has begun building and installing the energy systems it designs, says DiBerardine. “If they want us to design and build it, we can do it; if they just want us to design it, we can do that.”

DiBerardine — a LEED-certified accredited professional and certified geo-exchange designer —was already a veteran engineer when he started Strategic Energy Solutions in the basement of his Berkley home. It wasn’t long after that he developed what he calls “a passion for geothermal technology.”

Roughly one-third of the company’s business is now devoted to geothermal heating and cooling, which DiBerardine calls the “ugly duckling” of green technology due to its lower visibility and complexity.

“The toughest thing to explain to someone is how to heat a building on 40 degree water,” says DiBerardine.

So how exactly is it done, anyway?

The layman’s explanation: A geothermal system would take that 40-degree water and lower its temperature considerably. The act of cooling the water gives off energy that is used for heating. It’s a little more complex than that, of course, but that’s the gist.

DiBerardine says geothermal technology is increasing in popularity among both commercial and residential customers.

“There’s a lot of demand for it,” he says. “The biggest barrier is the upfront cost.”

Even with the initial costs, going geothermal has its long-term benefits: It takes roughly five to seven years for residents and three to five years for commercial businesses to recover the cost in energy savings. Until 2016, there is a federal tax credit for installing the technology.

DiBerardine points out the less tangible benefits for businesses in terms of good old-fashioned public relations. “It makes their properties more marketable for prospective tenants,” he says.

The company also offers tours of its facilities by appointment. DiBerardine says it offers the public and prospective clients the “chance to kick the tires, so to speak.”

With their roots firmly established, Strategic Energy Solutions is looking to continue to grow its client base in the higher education, K-12 education and municipal sectors. That is in addition to expanding its reach to the national stage.

Strategic Energy Solutions has a fan in Berkley City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa, who recently toured the company’s geothermal, sustainable building at 4000 W. Eleven Mile.

“Wow, the things they are doing are just amazing,” says Bais-DiSessa. “They’re committed to developing practices and efficient energy systems.”

The building is a gold-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and employs many of the same sustainable design systems that the company designs for its clients.

“You can feel the energy, all the ideas,” says Bais-DiSessa. “They implement their concepts into their day-to-day business operations.”

For more information about Strategic Energy Solutions, call 248-399-1900 or visit the Web site at www.sesnet.com.