BY AARON FAIRCHILD
I believe in a future where deep green and net-zero energy homes are affordable and the norm. A future where our communities are diverse, inclusive and resilient, and where people who believe and invest in that future earn profits. Being raised by an entrepreneurial single mother imparted on me the importance of caring and nurturing, while also working hard to provide. Since the age of 15, my labor has been built upon this foundation from my mother. I have stumbled and failed and made mistakes along the way. I have succumbed to fear and self-doubt. At times, the immensity of the challenges we face seem daunting and impossible to solve; like I am frantically shooting a toy water-pistol at a raging wildfire. But when I lift my eyes and look around, I see that I am not the only one trying to douse the flames of environmental destruction and social inequity. Intentional and like-minded people all around the world are forming companies to be used as forces for good. And these companies are changing the nature of work by holding each other up to realize the future we believe in.
BY AARON FAIRCHILD, CEO
The last two weeks has been a whirlwind of intentional conversations with like-minded, social purpose organizations. The B-Corps Champions Retreat and the following week of SOCAP17 were both intense conferences of shared themes and desired outcomes. A couple things linger in my mind from these social impact conferences:
SEATTLE, Washington & PORTLAND, Oregon (October 4, 2017) – Green Canopy, Inc., a proven urban infill deep green homebuilder, announced the launch of its newest affiliate company, Cedar.
“Meeting the challenges of global warming and the housing crisis in our high growth cities requires us to develop disruptive, integrated, and inclusive solutions. We are proud to offer a for-profit model for building resilient, inclusive and sustainable net-zero energy micro-communities without reliance on direct government subsidies” says Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy.
By Aaron Fairchild, CEO
At the September 14 Built Green Conference, I moderated the panel, Exclusionary to Inclusionary: How can we make our region inclusive, resilient, and vibrant, with Seattle mayoral candidates, Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, as well as City Council candidate Teresa Mosqueda, and Sightline founder Alan Durning. It was an honor to moderate this discussion. It was made even more poignant by the passing of my father the night before after nearly a 10-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. He would have been proud to see me moderating a discussion with such a powerhouse group. I did my best during the discussion to channel the thoughtfulness he demonstrated throughout his life. I would like to thank the panelists for their time and contribution, and for helping to make an otherwise difficult day, one of inspiration!
Here are a few thoughts I took away from the conversation.
All the panelists agreed that up-zoning or at least allowing townhomes, duplexes and triplexes, and row-houses onto our exclusively zoned SFR lots within the city is something that should be pursued. I also learned there was broad agreement that the permitting process at the city should be streamlined and explored for greater efficiency in processing permits. The last thing that became quite apparent was that:
Net-zero homes are about the details. The accumulation of these details, of these seemingly small changes to the homes’ building process, multiplies the homes’ efficiency and comfort. To build these homes, Green Canopy has cultivated a vast system of checks and balances both originating from within the company and from partners of the company. The team at Green Canopy’s net-zero home in Magnolia recently completed one such check: the blower door test.
There are well-known frustrations with homes built in the 70’s and 80’s that were sealed up very tight with little thought put into proper ventilation. Without that proper ventilation, the airtight homes get moldy and begin to rot. When talking about making our homes airtight, people often have reactions associated with these mold-prone homes in the past, but the contemporary phrase in the industry is to "seal up tight and ventilate right." With proper ventilation, we can get a temperature-controlled environment without the negative side effects. The home's structure is set up to last with a Heat Recovery Ventilator that reduces pollen and dust giving the home constant fresh air. The ventilator also takes the stale air from inside the house, recycles the heat, and joins it with fresh air from outside.
We're looking forward to hosting the 6th Annual Green Genius Awards Ceremony at the 2017 Built Green Conference this year. The Green Genius Awards are the region’s first and only awards to honor real estate brokers who are helping to transform the residential housing market. By listing, marketing and selling homes that have an ecological and social impact in Seattle neighborhoods, these agents are educating a generation of homebuyers and disrupting the status quo of homebuilding. They are helping to change the paradigm of how real estate is valued in a growing city and working to build a more sustainable community.
Pioneers like Thomas Edison have been excited for decades about the use of solar power. “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that,” Edison anticipated. Starting this Fall, the first of many Green Canopy's Net Zero Energy homes will be available on the market in Seattle - with a commitment to offering these high-performance homes at a price that is on par with code-built new construction homes.
When Green Canopy began, our region was in the grips of a housing crisis. Streets were filled with “for sale” signs that wouldn’t budge. It seemed as though everyone wanted to sell before the market dropped further, and that no one really wanted to buy a home. Green Canopy’s solution was to acquire existing homes and deeply remodel them as certified Built Green Remodels for sale. The Company’s mission is, and has been since that time, to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. Remodeling existing homes using sustainable methods and materials and certifying the home Built Green, was at the time the most viable and sustainable method for accomplishing the mission during the last housing crisis. However, as the market began to shift, Green Canopy began feeling the symptoms of a new emerging market crisis. Today’s housing crisis is a result of a shortage of supply and there are more people looking to buy than there are homes to acquire. The market economics have changed, making it no longer viable to buy homes, remodel them to a rigorous green building standard and remain in business. Rather than bemoan the current market, Green Canopy can now lean into its mission with a greater sense of purpose.
Mission Metrics: Case Studies on Impact Part 2
Written By: Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy
Green Canopy’s neighborhood engagement started with our first home in West Seattle in 2010. We painted the home a shade of green that our neighbors rejected immediately and publicly via social media. We were taken aback. This certainly wasn’t the “impact” that we had hoped for. Our nascent team had just begun working together with a mission to inspire and this quickly became a moment to listen and learn. We invited all of our neighbors to meet onsite and tour the construction project and vote on the color to repaint the home. This was our first opportunity to talk to the community about our mission, gather feedback and learn more about our neighbors, their values and, of course, a better choice for paint color.
Since that time Green Canopy has increased its commitment to neighborhood engagement in a number of ways. The company has hosted barbecues, sponsored block parties, held educational events on green building, hosted happy hours highlighting local non-profits, and more. The company has also programmatically adopted the Community Color Program to select the color palette that we use to paint every home. Additionally, in 2012 the company formalized our introduction to the neighborhood with a “Meet the Builder” community meeting. This is neither required by the cities in which we build, nor embraced by the associations to which we belong. The Green Canopy Meet The Builder community meetings represent an early chapter in the story of every project, helping to set the tone once construction begins and ultimately ensuring greater community inclusion and consideration than otherwise.
In October of 2014 we layered into the Green Canopy Meet the Builder community meeting, an online neighborhood survey. Since that time, we have held over 20 community meetings and received results from 15 communities with responses from over 100 neighbors in Portland and Seattle. Once the surveys have been completed we process neighbor’s responses and send all responses back to the community members that filled out a survey. The responses are shared anonymously; yet when we review these results we receive highly informative feedback, which we use to learn, adapt and inform the Green Canopy team about the unique story of every community in which we build.
For the first time, we are producing the results of the community surveys from which we have learned so much – they are full of critique, feedback and grace - take a look for yourself and let us know what lessons you learn in the comments below!
Download Green Canopy's Community Survey Responses to learn more about the communities in which we work.
The Green Canopy blog is written by our CEO and Culture Curator, Aaron Fairchild, as well as our staff and a few very special guests.