All business is personal. This maxim underpins the origins of Lumen Global and the leadership style of Judd Stensrud, Lumen’s founder, who brings a results-driven and relationship-centered approach to business.
In 2008, Stensrud was running operations for a multinational real estate and investment company in Costa Rica when a local businessman came to him with a request. He wanted to host his daughter’s wedding at one of Stensrud’s hotels, but couldn’t afford it. He proposed a solution: had Stensrud heard of LED lighting? The father, an electrician, sold Stensrud on the idea by proposing a trade: an upgrade of the hotel’s electrical system in exchange for the nuptials of his daughter’s dreams. Stensrud waved the father out of the office; he was too busy to reconsider the property’s lights.
Stensrud’s career brought him back to the US, leading an asset management team at Jones Lang Lasalle on prominent mixed-use projects including The Plaza Hotel and The Four Seasons Mexico City. The proximity to a high-value real estate portfolio made him think about that moment with the father and the LED lights. The numbers had seemed too good to be true—and yet when he crunched them across a variety of properties, they checked out. The savings dropped directly to the bottom line, often with a 50% to 120% internal rate of return. And converting to lower-cost, lower-wattage LED lighting is one of the simplest ways to reduce carbon footprint, since more than half of electricity comes from burning coal, a moral priority about which Stensrud felt increasingly passionate. Why weren’t more companies doing this, he wondered?
The problems were operational, Stensrud learned. LED conversion requires an upfront investment, considerable follow through and paperwork, and logistical expertise. Stensrud knew he could surmount those hurdles, so he left his day job and bought a box of lightbulbs, designing a startup that would do all the upfront work and analysis specialized for each job, and share in the savings when the system worked as efficiently as he knew it would. A lightbulb went off, and Lumen Global was born.
Stensrud has since built Lumen Global into a leader in the US, UK and Europe in LED conversion, but the mission has grown beyond lighting to sustainable solutions across the portfolio. His strategic acumen and deep business relationships allowed him to form partnerships with important advisors and connectors, including Charlie Olcott, former President of Burger King who now champions Lumen’s cause. From advanced ESG analysis of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MTCO2e, to solar, air compression, and proprietary circuit monitoring, Lumen is poised to reduce energy costs and usage across a broad spectrum.
Judd Stensrud is an action-oriented leader who brings extensive consulting and commercial real estate expertise to the energy business. He founded Lumen Global in 2017 on the belief that green energy solutions could be paired with outsized returns, and drives the business with laser focus on delivering results for clients and the environment.
Judd specializes in quantitative analysis and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an undergraduate degree from Duke University in Public Policy. Before he founded Lumen Global, Judd spent 15 years in real estate private equity, the asset management division of Jones Lang LaSalle and led a real estate valuation team at Ernst & Young. Judd helped renegotiate a half billion-dollar loan with the Bank of China, was the lead asset manager for the Plaza Hotel in New York, and led a process where Bill Gates and the Four Seasons Hotels invested over $300 million into a project that was his brainchild.
“In all my years managing and consulting for incredibly large and diverse deals, I never once saw a consistently better return on investment than what Lumen Global can offer. Most of our deals have returns of 50% to 120%, with a real, quantifiable environmental impact and a simple process,” says Stensrud. “That is why our focus at Lumen Global is empowering owners of commercial real estate to make intelligent decisions with regards to energy efficiency. I hope you will choose to work with my team.”
Charlie Olcott brings to Lumen Global deep leadership and management experience from his former positions as President of Burger King and Treasurer of Pillsbury. As a consultant and connector, Olcott develops new business for Lumen Global. Skilled at financial analysis, fundraising, and small businesses, Charlie provides our team with a skilled advisor.
Holli Volkert became skilled at how to make ideas happen after working in the special events industry for over 25 years. She has a keen eye for design and sees lighting as an important ingredient of enhancing architecture, working space and products. She also feels proper lighting can affect one’s mood and wellbeing in positive way, leaving employees rejuvenated and refreshed. “Being a part of Lumen Global has shifted my thought processes from contributing to the guest experience through the art of design to contributing to the employee experience through the art of energy efficiency.”