Press release

Energy Foundation Co-founder Eric Heitz Joins Silicon Valley Water Startup Aqaix

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Eric Heitz – the co-founder of Energy Foundation, a leader in promoting transformative clean energy policies throughout the United States and China – has joined the Advisory Board of Silicon Valley water tech start-up Aqaix. As a thought leader, institution-builder, fundraiser, and promoter of innovative energy policies, Heitz helped advance multi-billion dollar markets for the clean energy technologies that can solve global warming – from LEDs to wind and solar power to electric vehicles.

“Eric brings extraordinary experience, vision, and a deep understanding of how new technologies, policies, and markets interact,” said Aqaix CEO Michael Gardner. “And he has deep understanding of the water-energy nexus. He will be invaluable to us in water, but also as we begin to diversify into other sectors of sustainable infrastructure finance. We’re incredibly lucky to have him as we move forward.”

“In the U.S., and around the globe,” Heitz said, “sustainable water infrastructure is the next big thing. We have to transform old systems with new technologies, all under changing constraints due to climate change. I’m excited to help Aqaix bring a new digital toolset to sustainable water finance, tapping the lessons from the rapid growth in clean energy infrastructure, which is now at $300 billion per year, and growing.”

“There’s a growing set of investors who want a double bottom line,” Heitz continued. “They want to do good for the world and they want return on their investment. But how do they prioritize sustainable projects? I like Aqaix’s approach. The world needs much more funding to verifiably sustainable water projects.”

In 1991, Heitz co-founded Energy Foundation with two fellow Stanford graduates and $100 million in funding from donor powerhouses the MacArthur Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Rockefeller Foundation. During his 28-year career at Energy Foundation, he built the new philanthropic model of connected grantees in a dozen states. He led Energy Foundation as it grew from three donors into 25, from five staff to 110, and in raising and granting $1.4 billion.

In 1999, Energy Foundation opened a China Office with $25 million in investment from the Packard Foundation. Today, Energy Foundation and Energy Foundation China collectively raise and invest $120 million annually. Energy Foundation supports portfolios of grantees who advance policies that create huge markets for clean technologies. These investments played a central role in securing key policies to advance utility energy efficiency, renewable portfolio standards, efficient vehicles, PV net metering, advanced efficient building codes, electric vehicle incentives and many others. These policies are at the heart of the nearly $50 billion U.S. market and $300 billion global market for clean energy technology.

Heitz stepped down from Energy Foundation in 2019 to found Tapeats Partners, LLC. Tapeats will focus on electing state legislators who promise fast action to advance clean energy markets that reduce global warming. Heitz was also a founding member of the Water Foundation Board from 2016 through 2019 and has served on the Board of the Tuolumne River Trust for nearly 20 years. From this vantage point, he will advise Aqaix on driving new, sustainable infrastructure in the water sector through investment at scale, as well as on the water-energy nexus.

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Aqaix offers cloud-based software products to transform finance of water infrastructure and accelerate water industry adoption of digital technologies. Aqaix’s water finance marketplace employs data and advanced technologies – AI, APIs, Big Data, cloud, and blockchain-based smart contracts – to help investors and donors automate business processes around water projects, and estimate their economic, environmental, and social ROI. The marketplace enables innovative new financing models such as Pay For Performance and performance-based green bonds, and it provides Asset-Level ESG and Impact ROI analytics on water investment portfolios. Aqaix also offers a water data integration hub as a central place for water data of all types, enabling utilities to rapidly deploy monitoring, decision, and other systems based on disparate sources of data.