Melink 2025 Pledge

Happy Earth Day 2020!  Though we are living through a pandemic that is killing thousands, sickening millions, and affecting billions of jobs, we need to have a vision and purpose beyond this time that gives us hope for a better world.

Earth Day gives us the permission to think big again and to imagine the bold goals we have long supported finally being implemented and realized.  However, since government often lags rather than leads when it comes to the environment, we need individual action more than ever.

Sure, the clean energy movement is well underway.  Countless government, business, and education leaders are investing in solar and wind farms across the United States and around the world. Electric cars and batteries are slowly but surely going mainstream.

But certain headwinds are preventing this clean energy movement from becoming a revolution.  Yes, the current administration is one of them.  And the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers are another. And, to some extent, so are you and me.

How many of us complain about someone else not doing their part to lead on climate action, and then fail to do so ourselves?  For example, is every one of us buying clean energy from our utility? And is every one of us at least planning to upgrade to an electric car in the future?      

It is in this spirit that I make the Melink 2025 Pledge. Though our company has long been a pioneer and leader in clean energy solutions and Zero-Energy buildings, we have typically allowed our employees to make personal choices that run counter to our mission.

Now that we are an ESOP and every employee is an owner, it is more incumbent than ever for us to walk the talk on our vision and mission. The world already has enough headwinds. But Melink shall continue to lead and live up to its calling even during the hardest times.

Melink 2025 Pledge

  • Every Melink employee-owner shall select the clean power option from his/her utility. (The average monthly cost of doing this is a Starbucks cup of coffee).

  • Every Melink employee-owner shall drive an electric car using clean energy. (Our EV incentive, leasing program, and lower market prices should make this possible).

  • Melink Corporation shall give everyone five years to transition to this commitment. If there are personal financial reasons preventing this, we will support him/her.

To further leverage this pledge, we ask that other local, regional, and national partners or stakeholders join us.  It’s a small premium to do the right thing, and it’s getting smaller every day.  Let’s create more demand so that in five years it’s cheaper than doing the wrong thing. Like the pandemic and any war, we can only win if we all do our small part. Let’s create a better world for our children and grandchildren — all of us, together.      

Sincerely,

Steve Melink signature

Steve Melink
Chairman & CEO
Melink Corporation

 

Melink’s Super Green HQ2

Melink’s super-green HQ2 is approaching the 90% completion mark.  The windows are installed and the curtain walls and doors are next.  The sidewalks are being poured and the solar canopy will be erected very soon.  Then the courtyard pavers and asphalt parking lot will be installed.  The two ponds will be combined into a larger one and the landscaping will follow.

Inside, the framing and drywall is nearly completed.  The zone heating/cooling, plumbing, and electric is also nearly completed with our super-hybrid geothermal system going in after the floor area is epoxied next week.  Most of our innovations and patentable products will revolve around this showcase system.  Stay tuned for more information on this as we work through the details.

Painting and carpeting should begin in October with the furniture and fixtures quickly following.  The building should be 99% complete by the end of that month with just punch-list items and commissioning in November.  Melink Solar & Geo should be able to move-in in December and officially start its first month of lease in January. 

SonLight Power’s staff will also be relocating to our HQ2 in January as part of strategic partnership to promote solar and all the positive benefits, including lower operating costs and long-term sustainability and resiliency. In February, we will have our annual Company Meeting and hold an internal grand opening for our employees.

In April we plan to host a separate grand opening for our customers and other stakeholders.  We hope to attract a national keynote speaker to further promote the message that Zero-Energy Buildings are proven, practical, and profitable.  If Melink can design and build an affordable zero-energy building, all architects and engineers in the building industry should do the same.

Melink HQ2 – Our Zero Energy Vision & Strategic Plan

Melink’s second headquarters in Milford, Ohio will be one of the greenest buildings in the world.  Not only will it double the office and manufacturing space of our current 30,000 square-feet facility, it will serve as a model on how to design and construct affordable zero-energy buildings (ZEB) of the future.  Why is this so important?

Commercial buildings and homes consume over 60% of the energy in the U.S., and therefore, represent a majority of our country’s carbon footprint.  Though the building industry is on a path to achieve zero-energy on all new construction by the year 2030, it will be very difficult to convert the millions of existing buildings to zero-energy before 2050.

Unfortunately, because of global climate change, we may not be able to wait that long.  We need cost-effective solutions now.  The 17 hottest years on record have occurred over the last 18 years and the trend is getting worse over time.  Climate disasters from floods to fires are becoming more frequent and severe as a result.  In fact, more and more scientists are saying this could become an existential threat.

Yes, solar and wind power have gone mainstream over the last 10 years and that is good news.  And many utilities, businesses, schools, and government entities are starting to jump on the bandwagon.  But renewable energy still only makes up about 20% of our country’s energy mix.  Coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear make up the rest.  We need to go from 20% to 80% renewables within the next 10-20 years.

One way to speed adoption is not wait for fickle governments and regulated utilities to solve this problem.  It’s time for the business sector to lead and create the clean energy economy of the 21st Century.  This means small, medium, and large companies like ours need to start making the necessary investments now.  Together, we can and must wean ourselves from dirty fossil fuels.

To be clear, this is not just about protecting the environment.  It’s about saving our planet and life as we know it.  It’s about investing in our security, health, and economy.  Who doesn’t want to be safe from more natural disasters in the future?  Who doesn’t want to be secure from flooding coastlines and mass human migration?  And who doesn’t want more jobs and long-term economic growth?

Therefore, this epic problem should also be viewed as a tremendous opportunity for humankind to finally work together on something that is bigger than any one person, political party, or country.  We can either smartly invest trillions of dollars now … or stupidly pay hundreds of trillions and likely lose millions of lives later.  We all know what our children and grandchildren would say.    

What does this have to do with our HQ2?  Everything.  Our new buidling will not be just another green project to say we ‘walk the talk’ at Melink.  Our building will be about showing architects, engineers, and contractors how to design and construct affordable zero-energy buildings of the future.  In other words, it will be about helping revolutionize the building industry for the 21st Century.

How will we accomplish this?

We are going to show that one can invest a small premium of 15-20% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building, and make it zero-energy.  The message being: If Melink can do it, so can everyone else across the country.  I believe developers, architects, and engineers from across the land will want to see and hear how we did this.  I believe our customers will want to see and hear how we did this.  The return on investment will be too good for them not to.

How is this different than HQ1? 

We invested a slightly larger premium of 25% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building.  We also made these investments to an existing building – slowly over time as we could afford them.  This project will show we can do it for an even lower premium if we smartly design the building and take advantage of the most recent innovations.

Features will include several of the best ones we incorporated here in our HQ1.  For example, we will have an even more highly-insulated envelope; we will have the next generation of window and door systems; and we will have a larger solar canopy over the parking lot.

While we can’t share too many details at this time because of the proprietary nature of our innovations, we promise we will push the envelope in ways that will make HQ2 one of the most innovative green buildings on the planet. More details will be provided in the near future.

And we will have many other features that won’t necessarily pertain to energy, but will make the building more comfortable and inspiring.  For example, we will have more open work spaces, more windows and skylights, and a green wall or water feature.  And we will have a museum center to educate visitors on the history of HVAC because to see the future you have to know the past.  Last, we will have a spirit wear shop to reward customers with gifts to memorialize their visit. 

Timewise, the building will be completed by the end of this year and we plan to hold a grand opening in June 2020 where we can publicize our initial findings from our building.

How are we going to pay for HQ2? 

I am taking advantage of what is called a PACE loan to invest in the energy efficiency and renewable energy features of our new building.  In essence the capital is provided upfront and paid back over 25-30 years through an assessment on the property taxes.  This is a great financing tool that we also want to share with the world.

In conclusion, if we’re not part of the solution, who and what are we?  As experts in the building industry, if we don’t help raise the bar, who will and when?  We’re certainly not going to rest on past laurels and let the world pass us by.  We’re going to lead and make a difference.  

PACE Helps Fund Melink HQ2

Word is spreading that we have started construction on one of the greenest buildings in the U.S.  Melink HQ2 will not only expand our corporate campus for future growth, it will also serve as a model for how to design and construct Zero-Energy Buildings.

What is lesser known is how this project is being financed.  Yes, traditional equity and debt will pay for 80% of this $5 million project.  There is no getting around the fact that concrete, steel, and glass costs money and plenty of it.

But the other 20% of this project will be financed by PACE – which stands for Property Accessed Clean Energy.  This is a smart way to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements that might otherwise get axed from consideration because of budget constraints.

Basically, PACE financing is a long-term loan that gets paid over the long term by the energy savings of the above stated improvements.  However, rather than calling it debt, it is recognized as a property tax assessment based on the increased value of the improvements.

In this example, Melink will be able to make $1 million worth of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and pay for them gradually over the next 30 years through an assessment on our property taxes.  In other words, the energy savings will cash-flow the incremental value.

This is important for the building industry to understand, including developers, architects, and construction firms.  The reason is, investing up to 20% on energy improvements can make the difference between a zero-energy building and an energy hog that cripples your business.

There is no personal guarantee required and no additional debt on your balance sheet.  You get a fixed rate with fixed payments that can be passed onto your tenants through a triple-net lease.

Moreover, it allows you as the building owner and/or tenant to market your sustainability mindset and accomplishments.  And with growing pressure from customers and employees to be part of the solution, there is no excuse for not doing the right thing.

For our project, Ohio PACE and CenterBank have been indispensable partners to making this financing possible for us.  In your state, it might be someone else.  Either way, if your clients don’t know about this financing tool, you need to educate them on it.

Leading by example is one of the most important things we can do.  And with PACE financing, we hope to show countless other building owners and professionals that zero energy buildings are not only proven and practical, but also profitable.  Today.

Headquarters 2.0

Another major step on our sustainability journey will be the design and construction of a second headquarters in 2018 and 2019. As Melink continues to grow, we will need more office and warehouse space than our first building can provide.

Fortunately, we have the land next to our current HQ1 in which to build HQ2. It will be of a similar size and layout – with the courtyard facing our current building. And like our first building, it will be super-green. Except our second building will take green to a whole new level!

In addition to it serving our future workplace needs, it will serve as a model Zero-Energy Building (ZEB) for architects, engineers, and contractors to learn ZEB best practices. The goal will be to show a cost-benefit analysis that will make other building owners want to emulate and mainstream ZEB.

A growing segment of the building industry is calling for all new buildings to be Zero-Energy Building by the year 2030. We want to show that this can be easily achieved, 10 years ahead of schedule, with a relatively simple design strategy.

Since the largest energy loads in most commercial buildings are lighting, HVAC, and hot water, we will focus on showing how these can be minimized – and offset by a slightly greater amount of solar PV electric generation. Nothing new, except HQ2 will do this better than HQ1.

But the main innovation will be around our super-hybrid geothermal HVAC system. Don’t worry, we’ll figure out a cool brand name for it. The point is, this new system will help advance the energy savings of geothermal without the high cost normally associated with it.

If you think we have received lots of regional and national attention with HQ1, wait until you see what happens with HQ2. Through countless tours and presentations, we will influence thousands of additional building professionals and continue building a green brand unlike any company.

By the way, if any of you would like to work in this new super, high-tech, and beautiful workplace, you better get an electric car first. Because only EVs will be permitted to drive and park on its new green parking lot of the future.

The Melink Energy Revolution is just beginning…

Be Curious

The older I get and the more people I meet, the more it is confirmed in my mind that curiosity is a highly desirable trait.  Curiosity is a simple recipe for improving intelligence, persevering through hard times, and achieving meaningful goals.  Without curiosity, one is too easily content to settle for the status quo and not grow – personally or professionally.

A couple years ago, an executive friend shared with me that his Fortune 500 company specifically tests for curiosity when recruiting new talent.  The idea is, candidates who demonstrate curiosity are more likely to improve their education, training, and leadership ability.  They never stop reading and asking questions; and become more effective in their line of work as a result.

Of course, being curious is also a great way to build personal friendships and working relationships.  Have you ever met someone who loves to talk about themselves and their weekend, but never turn things around and ask about your kids or whatever?  I would bet they are not on your list of favorite people.  Curious people are naturally more understanding and fun to be with.

Curiosity is getting more attention and research all the time. The most recent issue of Harvard Business Review has made it a feature article as well.  According to HBR, curiosity can improve a firm’s adaptability and performance.

Additionally, this same article posits that curiosity leads to fewer decision-making errors.  A deeper level of analysis and number of options come from asking more questions.  Curiosity also reduces group conflict and leads to more open communication.  And it can mean viewing problems more creatively – with less stress.

Some people assume that asking questions in a meeting shows a lack of understanding, or that they are not as smart as other people in the room.  But the opposite is true.  Asking questions shows you are engaged, that you want to learn, and you care about the end-result.  Don’t be a bump-on-the-log that just attends but does not participate in meetings.  This is a waste of company time.

So be curious!  Every day, with every person, and in every challenge.  Experience the joy of finding new pathways to better relationships and success.  In fact, how can we live our core value of innovation at Melink – without being curious?

Holistic HVAC Design – A New Level Of Efficiency

Commercial buildings are commonly heated and cooled with mechanical equipment, powered by electrical service, and connected to plumbing systems such as natural gas and condensate lines depending on the type of HVAC system. Hence, building drawings are separated by the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing scopes of work, ie., M, E, and P sheets.

Often the mechanical engineer works independently of the electrical and plumbing engineers, and vice-versa. And often the mechanical contractor installing the heating/cooling system works independently of the electrical and plumbing contractors, and vice-versa. While this makes sense from a specialization standpoint, it can prevent holistic thinking and creative optimization strategies.

For example, the most energy-efficient HVAC system for a particular type of building in a given geographic area would naturally combine the best of all three specialties. In other words, the electrical and plumbing service should not just serve the mechanical equipment as an input or output. All three should be designed as a complementary system to provide heating and cooling capabilities depending on the resource that is most available, lowest cost, and cleanest/greenest at any period of time.

When there is a summer hot spell, it may be best to meet the incremental peak load with a small geothermal loop or thermal energy storage system. When there is high water usage for showers, toilets, and food prep, it may be best to meet the heating/cooling loads with a domestic water heat exchanger. When it is raining, it may be best to meet the heating/cooling loads with a rainwater heat exchanger.

And during the nights and weekends, when temperatures are lower and/or electrical rates are lower, an air-to-water condensing unit may be the best way to precondition the building water loop for daytime and occupied cooling needs. Moreover, it is a way to reduce peak demand charges by level-loading the HVAC system over a 24/7 period rather than a 8/5 period.

Melink is pioneering a super-hybrid geothermal HVAC system that will do all of this and more for its new HQ2 building. And it will be designed and constructed in a way that will make zero-energy buildings cost-effective and a model for future new construction and remodels.

We hope you will visit us next year after construction is completed to see the potential of holistic HVAC design. This means not only tapping Mother Nature’s resources, but the various ingoing and outgoing building waste streams. Conventional design practices rely on very dedicated and limited mechanical equipment – and this is typically less than efficient, not to mention optimal.

Steve Melink, PE

Melink Corporation

CEO

Melink to become an ESOP!

In the next few weeks, Melink Corporation will become an employee-owned company. As the founder, owner, and CEO, I have decided to sell my shares to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) which will then distribute shares to our full-time employees over time. The reason is, I want our employees to feel ever more invested in Melink and its vision, mission, and values. And I want them to become beneficiaries of their investment of time, passion, and sacrifice when they retire.

After 31 years of building Melink Corporation into a national sustainability and clean energy leader, I will continue serving as CEO but increasingly focus on strategic and long-term opportunities. For example, after implementing the ESOP, I will focus on designing and constructing our second net-zero energy headquarters for future growth and expansion. I will also continue innovating new products and services, with our most recent ones being Positiv and Manifest. And I will serve as CEO of Melink Solar & Geo, a sister company of Melink Corporation, with the goal of mainstreaming the two most promising building technologies (solar PV and geothermal HVAC) from an energy and carbon reduction standpoint.

As many know, Melink Corporation could have been sold to a public company or private equity firm. The market is ripe for mergers and acquisitions in this new low-tax environment. But I did not want to make my legacy about selling out to the highest bidder and then losing everything I spent my life creating. My vision is that Melink Corporation should become a billion-dollar company by helping lead the clean energy revolution and solving one of the world’s most serious challenges: climate change. And I want to ensure that our family and high-performance culture thrives … and inspires other companies on how to achieve organizational excellence.

Moreover, the ESOP will allow Melink to attract and retain the best possible talent. Rather than our employees only buying stocks and mutual funds of other companies through their 401K plans, they will own the very company in which they spend the majority of their time and invest their hearts, minds, and souls. They will be even more proud to sell our awesome solutions and provide great customer service. They will respect and honor, but also hold accountable, their fellow workers all the more with their best efforts and intentions. Success will beget success.

This is not a get-rich quick scheme. It is a build wealth slowly plan. And it is a commitment and investment in our employees that will empower everyone to think and act like owners. And serve as true leaders to the world at large, our country, and our communities.

Happy Holidays from Melink

As CEO of one of the greenest companies on Earth, I want to take this opportunity to thank our many customers!  Together, we are changing the world one building at a time … by saving energy and reducing the carbon footprint of millions of square feet every year.

Since the spirit of the Holidays is about giving, let me share some ideas about how you can accelerate your journey to a clean energy future at your business and home:

  • Replace your high-usage lights with LEDs.
  • Improve your building envelope with additional attic insulation and triple-pane windows.
  • Upgrade to a geothermal HVAC system when it is time to replace your existing system.
  • Install a heat-pump water heater – and connect to your geothermal system after it is upgraded.
  • Purchase only high-efficiency appliances.
  • Install a solar PV array on your roof, ground, or parking lot to offset your remaining electrical loads.
  • Select the green power option from your local utility for any power you buy form the grid.
  • Purchase or lease only hybrid and preferably electric cars, vans, and trucks.
  • Install EV charging stations at work to educate and inspire your employees and visitors.
  • Install a battery storage system to reduce peak demand charges and ensure against power outages.

Every homeowner and business can reduce its energy/carbon use by 50% or more.  In fact, many of the largest and most successful businesses, universities, and governments across the U.S. and world have already achieved carbon neutrality.

This is about our economy, security, environment, and health!  We can be part of the problem or part of the solution.  Be a leader, do the right things, and your brand and business will benefit.

Thanks again for the privilege and honor of working with all of you. We’re humbled by your passion and trust to make the world a better place for us and future generations.

Cheers!

Steve Melink

CEO

Melink Corporation        

Our Melink Culture

By Steve Melink

Our culture is everything.  It is our vision, mission,
and values all wrapped in one.  It is who we are, what we do, and why we
do it.  It is how we treat and support one another.  It is our
brand.  We can’t separate the parts and still have the whole.

But the foundation is one word: Integrity.  Everything
we say and do should model honesty and respect for others at all times.
We should always strive to show positive intentions.  Negativity, gossip,
and pettiness are counter-productive.  We choose to be genuine and
sincere.

It starts with simple things like acknowledging one another
… with eye contact, a smile, and saying the most important word in the English
language to the other person: their name.  It’s the ordinary hello, thank
you, and have a good day … with an extraordinary result.  Trust.

These small words, gestures, and actions when multiplied
thousands of times over the course of days, weeks, and months … by individuals,
teams, and ultimately all of us … help make our company the safe and healthy
workplace we all want and need.

And this promotes a sense of family.  This is where we
can be ourselves.  This is where we can learn, grow, and flourish.
This is where we can fall, but then be picked up by our peers and
leaders.  This is where we can and will do our best work and make a
difference in the world.

Last, our culture is intentional.  It is not an
accident.  It takes leadership from all of us and takes years to
build.  Let’s never take it for granted.  Let’s build on this
foundation and make it better.  We are a best place to work!