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Greentown Labs, an energy-oriented workshop in Fort Point Channel, expands space for 'cleanweb' companies

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 2, 2012 04:05 PM

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Greentown Labs co-founder Jason Hanna tells me that the energy-oriented workshop space for startups is growing this summer, adding about 3200 square feet on a second floor of its building. And with the expansion, another 10 companies will join the 13 already housed at Greentown, which may now be the biggest collection of cleantech companies under one roof in the region. Greentown moved into a former textile warehouse in Fort Point Channel in May of last year, after getting started in East Cambridge. With the expansion, it will grow to 17,500 square feet.

greentown1.jpgHanna says that the new space is a bit quieter and more "finished" than the concrete-floored, machine shop environment on the first floor. "To this point, we've gotten a lot of mechanical engineers working on compressors and thermal batteries and wind turbines," he says. "I think the new space will hopefully broaden our appear to so-called cleanweb companies," working on energy-related software or services. (The picture at right was taken last year when Boston Mayor Thomas Menino came to inaugurate the Greentown space; the big white doughnut is a lighter-than-air wind turbine developed by Altaeros Energies, one of the original Greentown tenants.)

Among the new tenants are Divya Energy, which is developing a website to help consumers evaluate various home solar systems; Vecarius, which aims to capture waste heat from automobile engines and generators; and Pika Energy, which advocates installing both solar panels and wind turbines on homes.

Renting a single desk on Greentown's grungier first floor starts at $275 a month; the nicer upstairs space is $450 a month. But seven of the ten new tenants, Hanna explains, will enjoy four months of free space, courtesy of the U-Launch grant program for cleantech entrepreneurs. (That program is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.) After that, they can decide to stick around as rent-paying residents — or not.

In addition to the ten new startups moving in this summer, Hanna says Greentown still has room for ten to twelve additional companies.

Greentown is organized as a non-profit; Hanna, its CEO, also runs Coincident, a startup designing energy management systems for homes and small businesses.

You can see the space for yourself on August 2nd, when Greentown hosts one of its regular "energy bar" mixers for entrepreneurs and engineers working in cleantech.

(The new upstairs space at Greentown is pictured below, configured for a recent hackathon event.)

greentownupstairs2.jpg

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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