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30 Best Leaders to Watch 2021

An Interview with Cynthia Adams, Pearl Certification CEO and Co-Founder Changing the Game for High-Performing Homes Across the U.S.


“We empower homeowners to increase their homes’ efficiency, health, comfort, and resilience over time.”

Cynthia Adams is the CEO and co-founder of Pearl Certification, a national home certification company that identifies and verifies data on high-performing home features to capture value for future resale and/or appraisal. The company drives demand for energy efficient and solar-powered homes by helping homeowners recoup the value of their home improvement investments. Pearl was incorporated in 2015 and is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA.

Voted ‘2020 Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Cynthia is also the 2018 winner of the ‘Linda Wigington Leadership Award’ from the Building Performance Association. And she serves by invitation on NAR’s Sustainability Advisory Group.

Cynthia Adams, Pearl Certification CEO and Co-Founder, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

COVID-19 has turned the real estate sector upside down. How do you manage to increase a property’s value and safeguard a client’s interest in such difficult times?

As people are spending more time in their homes during the pandemic, both the cost of energy and the home’s air quality have become much more critical. Pearl helps homeowners transform key decisions regarding their home’s comfort and efficiency into smart investments. They can live with lower energy bills and better indoor air quality while boosting their home value, should they decide to sell later.

Q. What motivated you to address the challenges faced by real estate professionals, house owners, and buyers?

Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of technologies that increase sustainability while improving homeowners’ lives and growing the businesses of those who serve them. Pearl will transform the housing market so that energy efficiency isn’t just a great perk but a must-have. Personally, I’ve built and renovated a variety of homes during my career, and I understand the impact performance can have on the quality of life for the home’s occupants. The real estate industry cares very much about enhancing the homeownership experience—and so does Pearl.

Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your clients?

We maintain trust by qualifying an elite network of contractors and real estate professionals to offer certifications to their customers. Our credentialing requirements create confidence that network contractors will improve a home’s performance, and partner real estate agents will properly market and price a certified listing. Together, we empower homeowners to increase their homes’ efficiency, health, comfort, and resilience over time. Homeowners maximize the value of their high-performing homes at the time of appraisal for refinance or sale.

Q. According to you, what are the top three skills to become a successful business leader?

Resilience, a positive attitude, and a passionate belief in the value your product/business can bring.

Q. What would you say is the single most influential factor of your business’ success?

Proving that we add value to our B2B customers and their homeowner clients is the single most influential factor of our success.

Q. What other leaders do you look up to, and why?

I look up to a range of successful entrepreneurs, including hard-driving visionaries like Elon Musk and self-made influencers like Oprah. I appreciate their persistence and their belief in themselves and their businesses.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

When I won the annual leadership award from HPC, now known as the Building Performance Association. It was memorable for two reasons: first, I was secretly nominated by my co-founder partner, and as I found out after I won, his write-up was wonderful. Second, my peers’ evaluation team made the decision—it was very affirming to our mission and potential impact.

Q. If not a business leader, what else do you wish to be?

I would wish to be a coach for leaders, particularly leaders who understand how crucial conscious leadership can be to a firm’s ultimate success.

Q. What does the future hold for Pearl Certification and its clients? Are exciting things on the way?

Yes. We have just launched our consumer-facing portal, Green Door, which ties all of Pearl’s channels together through a multi-sided software platform. Realtors, contractors, and manufacturers have one place where they can stay top of mind while offering real solutions to homeowners for future upgrades and maintenance.

Pearl Certification makes our global community a better place by giving homeowners tools to improve the health, comfort, efficiency, resilience and value of their homes.