Bringing down skyscrapers’ sky-high carbon footprint with Joselyn Lai from Bedrock

Keeping homes and offices at just the right temperature requires a lot of energy. Buildings generate about a third of the carbon pollution in the U.S., most of which comes from heating and cooling.

Bedrock Energy, co-founded by Joselyn Lai, thinks it has found at least a partial solution. The startup seeks to decarbonize climate control by installing geothermal heating pumps. Today, it’s focused on large commercial buildings, but the core technology could drive nearly any HVAC system.

Lai appeared on TechCrunch’s Found to discuss her company and its hopes of driving down the cost of a proven technology to address the climate crisis.

Early users of Bedrock included those like real estate firms with net-zero goals, Lai said. The company drills up to 2,000 feet below Earth’s surface to tap into a temperature gradient that is generally consistent across 55 to 85 degrees F. In the future, it could expand to serve residential customers as well.

Lai decided to help launch Bedrock in 2022 because she believed there was an increased need for decarbonization-oriented sustainability startups.

“Geothermal heating and cooling has been around for a really long time,” she said. “The fact that this technology is about scaling something so cool and so efficient and so beneficial for society, and that there isn’t really risk in whether or not it works — it’s just about, how do we build technology that makes it more accessible in more buildings, more affordable, more available for many building owners.”

Fundraising has been easy for Bedrock, in part because there remains a steady interest in climate technology, Lai said. Last October, TechCrunch reported that the company raised an $8.5 million seed round.

In the podcast, Lai also recalled the highs and lows of being a first-time founder, learning about the importance of hiring the best talent, investing in good software and building a strong engineering team. Her first hires were from the oil and gas industry, who were able to bring expertise in subsurface energy modeling to the company. They’ve been key additions to the team, and their transition to climate tech shows how talent from existing industries can help drive decarbonization in the U.S. and around the world.

This article was updated to correct a claim about Bedrock’s partnerships, its founding year, and the temperature of the gradient rock it taps into. 


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