3 Ways to Make Investment Decisions Without Compromising Values

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By Aaron Fairchild

I recently spent a couple of days at SOCAP18. After the conference, I had the opportunity to screen a soon-to-be-released Australian documentary called, 2040. 2040 is a beautiful “future-fit”, utopian depiction of a potential future made possible by incorporating carbon drawdown methods and technologies. 
 
The week before the screening a new environmental philosopher friend shared a concept she has written about extensively — the Precautionary PrincipleShe explained this by saying, “One can’t use uncertainty as a justification for inaction. One must use precaution to mitigate harmful outcomes even in the face of uncertainty.
 
Appling this to positive impact investors could translate to: “Investors and their financial fiduciaries can’t use financial uncertainty as a justification for inaction. Given the urgency of our social and environmental challenges, investors must use precaution to mitigate harmful financial outcomes — And still identify ways to invest in positive social and environmental opportunities even in the face of financial uncertainty.”
 
Unfortunately, in the face of our pressing social and environmental problems, the Precautionary Principle is often used as a reason not to invest in opportunities that generate positive impact outcomes. Even given our good intentions, the traditional structures of finance don’t legally allow moral social and environmental convictions to negatively influence financial outcomes. If the financial outcome is uncertain, but the social and environmental outcomes are clear and measurable — the existing legal frameworks and institutional structures justify inaction in the face of uncertainty.
 
As my mental turntable plays the paradoxical precautionary blues, I see images of the amazing people in the theater moving to a rhythm of positive change, but are we a little off the beat? 
 
How many times have you heard, “In order to attract more capital, the social and environmental enterprise must prove its ability to create market-rate returns. We need proven strategies.”? This thinking may lead to a slip-and-slide of marginalized outcomes in the pursuit of “market-rate” returns. Furthermore, the Precautionary Principle can create a disincentive to invest in positive social and environmental outcomes in uncertain market cycles or in investments labeled “concessionary.” In uncertain markets or uncertain categories, investors may justify putting the pursuit of positive outcomes on the shelf in favor of “proven” and more certain downside protection investment strategies.
 
According to Paul Hawken in the film 2040, 80% of the world’s agriculture is grown by small farm holders. However, in 2018 small farm holder investments are flat to down. Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly. Small to medium enterprise investments are flat to down, and renewable energy investments globally are flat to down as well. I recently learned of these alarming statistics on the Impact Alpha podcast, Getting to Yes. The decline observed in this podcast may be a result of investor’s growing uncertainty in the financial markets. Are we employing the Precautionary Principle? This may forecast a potential disturbing trend for urgently-needed investments in social and environmental solutions as the US economy advances into a market cycle already long in the tooth.
 
Understanding how we may be employing the Precautionary Principle helps clarify that even as we face urgent need to invest in social and environmental solutions, our desire for positive social and environmental outcomes often are left waiting on the side in the face of financial uncertainty. It is a difficult paradoxical dance to pull off. If true, I have three recommendations:

  1. Engage and collaborate with the impact entrepreneurs.When the social and environmental outcomes are clear, measurable and convincing, but the financial outcomes are uncertain — engage! Offer to work directly with the social entrepreneur or fund manager to help craft precautionary strategies within the investment opportunity that mitigate potentially harmful financial outcomes. Assess the investment opportunity thoroughly, do your due diligence and collaborate to mitigate harmful financial performance while maintaining the positive social and environmental outcomes. 

  2. Change the legal framework of professional financial organizations to align to the Benefit Corporation structure. Benefit Corporations structurally embed expanded fiduciary obligations to include social and environmental considerations.

  3. Work with a separate advisory committee or due diligence team. As an individual investor that is not constrained by the fiduciary obligations of professional wealth management, consider working with a separate advisory committee or due diligence team or conduct personal due diligence on impact investments.

 
After the 2040 film screening, I left the theater in a crowd full of optimism and inspiration. Even with the Precautionary Principle burrowed deep within the financial structures and investment psyche of America, I am optimistic that by becoming more aware of how and why we make decisions— and the structures within which we make them— we will continue to learn how to better align capital to the future we envision. 

2018 Green Genius Brokers of the Year

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Every year since 2013, Green Canopy has hosted the Green Genius Broker Awards at the Built Green Conference. The awards honor Real Estate Brokers who have excelled in marketing and selling certified Built Green homes in the Snohomish and King Counties. The Green Genius Awards judging panel is made up of experts in the building and real estate industries who look at both quantitative and qualitative data on the brokers including:

- The number of certified Built Green homes sold on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)
- The number of Built Green homes with the certification documents uploaded to the NWMLS
- The number of Built Green home benefits included in the marketing remarks on the NWMLS
- The level of knowledge and focus on Built Green building displayed in external marketing platforms like the broker website and social media

This year, there were four awards given: 2018 Listing Agent of the Year Award, 2018 Listing Office of the Year Award, 2018 Selling Agent of the Year, 2018 Selling Office of the Year. This year's winners:

GREG STAMOLIS | LISTING AGENT OF THE YEAR

Greg Stamolis, Managing Broker at Windermere Ballard, sold 16 certified Built Green homes with all listings including the certification documents on the NWMLS. Greg is a Seattle native, has been a licensed Real Estate Agent since 1990, has a business degree from Central Washington, continually gives back and helps expose the benefits of green building and lifestyle practices on his website. Outside of selling homes, Greg enjoys climbing mountains, is a husband, a parent and nature-lover.

WINDERMERE CAPITOL HILL | LISTING OFFICE OF THE YEAR

The Windermere Capitol Hill Office sold 36 certified Built Green homes the past year, three with the certification documents uploaded to the NWMLS. Owner, Pat Grimm says,"I see green building and sustainability as an extension of the values that I hold dear and do my best to promote in the office... another consistent, reoccurring theme as to how my values show up is respect. I love the respect that green building and sustainability demonstrates to our community and future generations."

TUSHAR GARG | SELLING AGENT OF THE YEAR

Tushar Garg, Owner and Broker at Flyhomes, sold eight certified Built Green homes, two with the certification documents uploaded to the NWMLS. Tushar is excited about sustainability and green homebuilding as he fell in love with Seattle because of the surrounding nature. His business, Flyhomes, is unique in that the brokers and team members come from all different backgrounds helping to find different solutions and generate new ideas.

REDFIN SEATTLE | SELLING OFFICE OF THE YEAR

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The Redfin Seattle office sold 24 certified Built Green homes this past year, with all 24 NWMLS listings including the certification documents. Redfin continues to move the needle forward both in their business model and in green real estate. They've blogged about "The top 10 Neighborhoods for Green Homes" and continue to highlight the benefits of Built Green homebuilding.

Congratulations to all of the 2018 Green Genius Award Winners!

The 2018 Green Genius Awards were presented and made possible by:

Green Canopy Reaches First Close on Cedar Fund

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For Immediate Release

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON & PORTLAND, OREGON (October 4, 2018) – Green Canopy Inc., a deep green urban residential developer, general contractor and fund manager, today announced the first closing of Cedar Fund providing $12 million in development capacity. Cedar Fund is the Company’s fourth single-family real estate fund designed to build resilient net zero ready micro-communities in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. With the first close complete, Cedar Fund intends to acquire three initial properties currently in pre-development, and construct 25 homes.

As a mission-driven Certified B Corp, Green Canopy is compelled to create market-driven solutions to the challenges facing the high-growth cities of Seattle and Portland, including resource scarcity and global warming, urban sprawl, and limited access to neighborhoods of opportunity. In response, Cedar Fund will acquire, develop, manage and market third-party certified green built, net zero ready residential homes over the course of a 5-year fund cycle.

Cedar Fund will focus on efficient land use through infill development, multiplying the number of homes in established, walkable neighborhoods. With an emphasis on access to essential services including schools, grocery stores and transportation. By building more resource efficient homes on less land, Cedar Fund will help preserve the Pacific Northwest identity which is interwoven with farms, forests, wild lands, and salmon streams.

“I am excited and inspired by the commitment of our initial 18 Cedar Fund Limited Partners who have expressed deep faith in our mission and potential to transform the real estate market towards more regenerative and inclusive communities and environments,” says Aaron Fairchild, CEO.  

About Green Canopy
Green Canopy, Inc. and wholly owned subsidiaries Green Canopy Homes, LLC and Green Canopy Capital, LLC have offices and teams in Seattle and Portland. Green Canopy Homes began building in 2009 and has successfully sold over 140 third-party certified, green homes earning over $100 million in gross revenues.

Green Canopy has successfully developed a disruptive and specialized business model for urban infill homebuilding at scale. Development projects are built on small, medium and large, non-contiguous lots in walkable urban neighborhoods. The Company has an integrated process and established systems for feasibility, design, estimating, construction project management, sales, owner services and fund management. Since inception the Green Canopy Team has focused on creating an authentic, disruptive and widely recognized brand. 

The Company’s mission is to build homes, relationships and businesses that help regenerate communities and environments. By committing to the deep work of its missionGreen Canopy believes a future is possible where net zero energy homes are the norm, these good homes are affordable, wildlands are preserved, communities are resilient and vibrant because they are inclusive, and people who want to invest in that future earn profits.

For more information contact: 
Susan Fairchild, Director, Investor Relations & Impact
206.792.7280
susan@greencanopy.com
 
Kyle Mylius, Director, Investor Relations & Strategy
206.792.7280
kyle@greencanopy.com

Green Canopy at the Annual Starbucks Sustainability Fair

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Green Canopy had the pleasure of being a part of the 2018 Annual Starbucks Sustainability Fair. This year’s fair was an opportunity to introduce the 6,000+ Partners working at the Starbucks Support Center to community resources aligned to the Partners For Sustainability mission: to educate, engage and empower Starbucks Partners to make sustainable change. Here are a few Partners we got to meet at the Green Canopy booth:

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"I’m a bit of an eco-enthusiast... I was intrigued in talking about the ways that architecture impacts home temperature and how the local climate, the lot and the orientation of the structure on the lot can be leveraged to reduce a home’s carbon footprint." — Brian L.

 
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"I'm a project manager for Starbucks in the Design & Construction Services.  I love the idea of a zero energy home, especially in our region of the US.  When utility bills can vary so hugely, it's nice to know that not only would I be keeping them steadier for our month-to-month energy costs, I would be helping to sustain resources and working against a large ecological footprint." — Nicole M.

 
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The Green Canopy Crew enjoyed meeting so many thoughtful Starbucks Partners while finding new and old friends who are using business as a force for good in the world. Here is just a snapshot of those we met:

Thriving Communities & Healthy Environments | Green Canopy’s 2017 Impact Report

The physical beauty of our Pacific Northwest region combined with a booming tech industry continues to draw people to our high-growth cities of Seattle and Portland. Daily, we feel and see this change with more traffic on the roads, more cranes on the skyline, homeless encampments in what seems like every nook and cranny, and an overflow of cars at our favorite trailheads.

Green Canopy launched in 2009 to combat and lessen the negative impacts of climate change and resource scarcity through in-city homebuilding. Nearly 10 years later, we find ourselves in the epicenter of rapid change. As a mission-driven Certified B Corp Company, Green Canopy inherently feels a responsibility to lean in further to the challenges we are experiencing in our high-growth cities: resource scarcity and global warming, urban sprawl, and housing crisis of affordability and access.

The Company recently paused to examine the broader purpose of our work as an urban infill residential developer and fund manager — going through a process to define our Theory of ChangeA Theory of Change is a visual road map to creating the change we want to see in the world and provides a target to which we align our strategies, outcomes, and goals. We began this process with guidance from Jane Reisman, a Social Impact Advisor with over 29 years of experience in strategy and evaluation. The benefits to developing Green Canopy’s Theory of Change became clear early on and continue to bring stakeholder alignment, shared language, and metric alignment.

Green Canopy’s Theory of Change was recognized as a model for transformation in the impact investing community through a case study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation: “The case study provides an illuminating example of how investors can adapt Theory of Change to serve their impact management needs. By demonstrating the relevance and transferability of this tool for articulating, measuring, and managing impact, the hope is that this case study can contribute to strengthening other investors’ approaches, in turn contributing to building the evidence base for the “impact” of impact investments.”

The 2017 Green Canopy Impact Report takes the first step towards aligning our current metrics to our Theory of Change. Our intent for the coming year is to reassess and refresh the metrics to ensure we continue to make progress towards achieving our Theory of Change as well as to further align with common industry standards.

We believe in a better future and the Green Canopy Team — with our partners and communities — is doing the deep work to help us achieve this vision.

Thank you for being an integral part of our
community!

Susan Fairchild
Director of Investor Relations & Impact

Good homes are affordable

The book Drawdown maps, measures and models the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to reverse global warming. The analysis identifies clear opportunities for the building sector to help play a role in drawing down carbon from the atmosphere (Rooftop Solar #10Electric Vehicle #26LED Lighting #33Heat Pumps #42Walkable Cities #54Net Zero Energy #79). The Seattle Master Builders Association’s Built Green Program demonstrated this potential in the 2017 report, which found Built Green 4-Star and 5-Star homes were 33% and 40% more efficient respectively than comparable code-built homes.

2017 marks an important pivot point for Green Canopy as the company completed our first Net Zero Energy Home. Net zero energy homes produce enough energy to offset their energy consumption needs over the course of a year through solar energy and ultra-efficient systems. This represents the future of the Company as we rotate our entire pipeline to build only Net Zero Energy Homes in the coming months and years ahead.

“Our Net Zero Energy program is the result of a culmination of 10 years of system, process and team development... This is not the end of our sustainability journey, but it is a very important next step.” — Sam Lai, Cofounder

FIRST NET ZERO ENERGY HOME COMPLETED | 100+ IN PRODUCTION | 728,112 POUNDS OF CARBON MITIGATED IN 2017

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Green Canopy builds good homes that are affordable by utilizing best-in-class materials and construction methods. Our homes use non-toxic materials and finishes, fresh air ventilation systems, and Blueskin technology to provide a weatherproof structure with high air quality. In 2017, all Green Canopy’s homes were certified to Built Green or Earth Advantage standards.

In addition, the Company reviewed and assessed the “Red List” of commonly used harmful building materials. Of the 65 materials listed by Miller Hull and the Living Future Institute, Green Canopy identified 30 materials the Company was already compliant with, and immediately removed 12 additional materials in our supply chain. We are working to find alternatives for the final 27 materials.

Green Canopy’s program with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) has allowed the Company to sell 11% of its total sales at more affordable and accessible prices compared to standard market rate homes. In 2017, Green Canopy built an average of 5 homes for each project site, where there typically was one — offering more homes at a lower price-point in urban communities and adding walkability to schools, parks, transportation and amenities.

In 2017 Green Canopy developed its fourth fund offering, Cedar Fund, which provides greater access and affordability to families earning 80% of area median income.

“The Cedar Fund puts us in a unique position to not only draw down carbon, but to also lift up our communities.” Aaron Fairchild, Chief Executive Officer

100% CERTIFIED BUILT GREEN OR EARTH ADVANTAGE | 6 AFFORDABLE HOMES IN PRODUCTION WITH WSHFC

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Our Pacific Northwest identity is interwoven with our farms, forests, wild lands, and salmon streams. Green Canopy believes honing the ability to develop density in our urban infill walkable communities is essential to reduce sprawl and preserve our wild lands. Green Canopy has created the skill to selectively develop unique lots in our high-growth cities while consistently containing costs, providing a model for residential developers nationwide. For each project site, Green Canopy responsibly deconstructs and recycles the majority of the existing structure and replaces one home with an average of 5.

Green Canopy continuously strives to keep as much of the deconstructed home out of the landfill as possible. In addition to recycling and reusing, Green Canopy developed a partnership with 118 Design, a program that offers job skills to former gang members and recently incarcerated men from the 98118 zip-code. The 118 Design team salvages lumber from the deconstructed homes and repurposes the wood into urban-inspired furniture and wood-clad walls inside Green Canopy’s homes.

“My environmental ethic formed through hours and hours of playtime as a child in our Pacific Northwest mountains and forests. I am motivated to preserve these spaces so my daughters acquire the same sense of connection to our planet.” — Andy Wolverton | Chief Financial Officer

90% OF ONSITE CONSTRUCTION WASTE RECYCLED | 95% OF DECONSTRUCTION WASTE RECYCLED

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In addition to reducing operating costs and providing a healthier, livable space, a net zero energy home is generally more resilient. The shift to develop all Net Zero Energy Homes combined with efforts to transform the real estate market towards more sustainable and resilient housing will provide critical built environment infrastructure improvements.

Cities with strong social networks and social inclusion have also been shown to bolster resilience. Green Canopy is working to increase access and inclusivity to highly desirable neighborhoods through efforts including increasing density, partnering with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to increase affordability, by launching the Cedar Fund and authentically engaging neighbors in Community Meetings. Before acquiring a property, Green Canopy invites surrounding neighbors to a Community Meeting to engage in an authentic dialogue around Green Canopy’s mission and the project design.

The Company also bolsters the resilience of high-growth cities through job creation. In addition to the 27 high quality jobs provided within the company, on average 95 jobs across the trades are utilized for every project site.

“I appreciate that you offer community meetings and a seemingly genuine interest in what matters to the neighborhood.” — Green Canopy Property

95 JOBS CREATED FOR EACH HOME BUILT | OVER 10 MEETINGS WITH POLICYMAKERS AND EDUCATIONAL TALKS GIVEN IN 2017

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Impact investing is a rapidly growing industry powered by investors who are determined to generate social and environmental impact as well as financial returns. Green Canopy is an experienced fund manager and has earned a strong reputation for being engaged and transparent. The Company has successfully managed three real estate funds totaling around $45M AUM with over 100 investor accounts. Green Canopy routinely achieves financial and impact returns aligned with investor expectations. The third fund, the Birch Fund, has returned a total of $2.8 million to Green Canopy investors, with a realized annual return of 11.19% through Quarter 4 of 2017.

Green Canopy’s sophisticated approach to creating new financial vehicles for the impact investor is highlighted in its fourth fund offering — the Cedar Fund. The Cedar Fund was developed in response to the current challenges in our high-growth communities, bringing net zero energy homes to market alongside greater affordability and inclusivity for families earning 80% area median income.

“I’ve been happy with the reliable returns I’ve received with Green Canopy’s fund offerings. They’ve been a win-win: solid returns paired with environmental outcomes I value.” — Kathy Washienko | Investor

$2.8 MILLION RETURNED TO BIRCH INVESTORS IN 2017 | RAISING CAPITAL FOR 4TH FUND OFFERING — CEDAR

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Deep work refers to the ability to focus, quickly master complicated information, and produce better results in less time. While Green Canopy hones this skill across all channels there are four areas of practice where the Company shines:

  • Courageously innovating in the built environment: We are bringing net zero energy homes to market and creating greater inclusivity by integrating more affordable housing. Optimizing systems of cost control and vertical integration allows us to lean further into our mission and aspiration to build regenerative structures. 

  • Creating new financial vehicles: Green Canopy creates investment opportunities that provide impact investors with a balance of social, environmental and financial returns. 

  • Curating a culture of personal growth and peak performance: All Green Canopy team members participate in monthly leadership trainings to develop the necessary skills for building trust, authentic communication and deliberate engagement with other team members and key stakeholders. Team members are also peer-reviewed biannually through the lens of Green Canopy’s values — Cultivating Community, Authentic Communication and Excellence.

  • Engaging, Educating, and Inspiring Stakeholders: Change and transformation only occurs when it is discussed. Using a holistic ecosystem approach, Green Canopy engages its many stakeholders in a variety of ways such as the real estate broker Green Genius Education and Award Program, multi-stakeholder Empower Happy Hours, Neighborhood Community Meetings, and the Green Canopy Subcontractor Loyalty Program.


“Green Canopy’s monthly Leadership Training has been instrumental in fostering a culture of engaged employees who are actively working toward maximizing their potential." — Ami Nieto 

8 PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TRAINING SESSIONS GIVEN TO ALL EMPLOYEES | 63 BROKERS GIVEN GREEN BUILDING TRAINING

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Fast Company Names Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild, One of the Most Creative People in Business

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In the 2018 summer issue, Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild, was named to "Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business." 

"Your inclusion on the list is an acknowledgment of your innovative and impactful work. You join 99 other remarkable leaders striving to solve global and societal problems in novel ways," states Fast Company Editor-in-chief, Stephanie Mehta.

Fairchild responds, "I am grateful to be recognized by such an esteemed publication as Fast Company, focused on revolutionizing the current business paradigm and to be listed among leaders and businesses using innovation to catalyze the next economy — one that is more regenerative and inclusive."

The Green Canopy Team is honored to have a leader who inspires us to continue doing the deep work necessary to realize the future we believe in.

Net Zero Energy in Portland

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Green Canopy introduced the Company’s first Net Zero Energy Homes in Portland by holding a class with valued partners in the movement. New construction “Net zero” or “zero energy” homes are highly-efficient home powered by the sun and typically built to a higher certification standard — in this case Earth Advantage Platinum. With less than 10 ever transacting on the Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service in the last 20 years, zero energy homes are very unique. Real Estate Brokers and buyers are learning more about what zero energy is apart from the apparent solar panels. Benefits like: healthier, allergen-free air quality; comfortable, evenly-distributed heating and cooling; and smart, cost-saving technology.
 
The event was held in one of the two Green Canopy Net Zero Energy Homes. Introductions were given by Debbie Chase of First American Title who welcomed brokers with bites from Elephants Delicatessen. Green Canopy Cofounder, Sam Lai, explained the mission of the company and the desired outcome of regenerative communities. And Chris Dawkins and Brian Schmidt of Lightbox Portland shared stories about their lessons learned from building their zero energy project that sold last month in Northeast Portland.
 
To begin the class on zero energy, Peter Brown of Earth Advantage — green building certifier — divulged details on what makes up a zero energy home. For this certified Earth Advantage Platinum Zero Energy project, Earth Advantage visits the project site several times to audit the quality of building — something that is not done for code-built homes. It is tested on a range of performance metrics like efficient water and lighting fixtures, structural integrity, and the energy consumption versus production. Brown also explained that the performance of zero energy homes is dependent on the lifestyle of the occupant — a household of 8 would likely consume more energy than a household of 2. A lively discussion ensued about the accuracy of energy certifications when home occupants have significant impact on the energy consumption of the homes. One remark was how a car’s Miles Per Gallon may not precisely reflect a car’s performance due to user differences like the number of passengers in the car or a different driving styles.
 
Green Canopy Construction Program Manager, Ryan Nieto, answered questions on the home the group was sitting in. Brokers remarked on the simple design qualities that they appreciated like the high windows allowing natural light in while providing privacy from the street. Nieto discussed how living in a net zero or zero energy home is not a sacrifice for sustainability but rather a convenience and the way of the future: “Net Zero Energy is a lifestyle choice. We’ve built high quality, energy efficient, and healthy homes that empower homeowners to embark on their personal journey towards Zero Energy, without sacrifice comfort or livability while adding durability and value.” 
 
The class adjourned and attendees were invited to walk through the home with the green building experts. Interactive “tags” were placed near distinctive features for attendees to learn about the features and their respective benefits for homebuyers.

Next Economy Now

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Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild, was recently featured on the Next Economy Now podcast by Lift Economy in the episode "Aaron Fairchild: Rooting Into Perennial Impact Under One Green Canopy." 

The podcast "highlights the leaders who are taking a regenerative, bio-regional, democratic, transparent, and whole-systems approach to using business as a force for good." Green Canopy is continually inspired by Lift Economy's work to benefit all life.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Aaron about how Green Canopy is influencing the existing construction paradigm while deliberately, methodically and incrementally addressing some of society’s most difficult challenges as we collectively work to create a more resilient and regenerative future.

Aaron offers Green Canopy’s past, present and future outlook, thoughts on culture and management, the phases of the company's growth and the importance of inclusive building for a more enriching world.

For more information on Green Canopy's approach to the current construction industry, listen to "Money is a Means to an End: Scaling Your Business with Aaron Fairchild" by The Construction Leading Edge.

Less Waste & More Meaning with Bea Johnson

At Green Canopy, we believe living in a net zero energy home goes hand in hand with a zero waste lifestyle. Partnering with Seattle Zero WasteZero Waste WashingtonEco Collective Seattle and Seattle EcoWomen in welcoming zero waste activist, Bea Johnson, to Seattle was an honor. 
 
According to research outlined in Drawdown: 100 Solutions to Reverse Global Warming, “Over the course of a century, methane has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Landfills are a top source of methane emissions, releasing 12 percent of the world’s total.”
 
The Zero Waste Movement has been an important piece in the pursuit of greater sustainability and reducing our landfills. In 2002, The Zero Waste International Alliance was formed to tackle waste management issues globally from the front end and defines zero waste as, “designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.” They believe that by “implementing Zero Waste we will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”
 
Bea Johnson — a French native living in California as a mother of two, — took this concept, and applied it to her everyday life and decisions. Johnson’s blog, Zero Waste Home, that she started in 2008, shows how to create less waste in a practical and cost-saving way.
 
Since 2008, her family of four has only been producing enough trash to fill one small jar every year. In the process, she’s found that a zero waste home has simplified her lifestyle and afforded her family more time together, with a priority on creating experiences and memories together.  Bea has inspired a global community of Zero Waste bloggers and lifestyle adopters. Her bestselling book, Zero Waste Home named after the blog, has been translated in 20 languages, she’s given 200+ speeches in 30+ countries and been featured in publications and TV Shows around the world. The New York Times, the Today Show, BBC Breakfast.

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Johnson spoke to a sold-out crowd of about 200, centered around her 5 Rs:
 
Refuse
Refuse what you absolutely do not need — and especially disposables or plastics.
 
Reduce
Reduce what you do have. Look at what you have and ask yourself, “Can I do with less?” Can I donate this or give it to someone else that needs it more?”
 
Reuse
Whatever you cannot refuse or reduce then you reuse. Make the things that you do purchase, long-lasting re-usables and not single-use items. This can also look like reusing the compostables you’ve bought as many times as possible as Johnson will freeze the discarded pieces of vegetables from cooking to make vegetable stock. 
 
Recycle
Whatever you cannot refuse, whatever you cannot reduce, whatever you cannot reuse — then you recycle. Sending back the products and materials that wear out to the initial supplier or a local recycler to be turned into something else. If you absolutely cannot refuse using a laptop and it breaks, recycle it at a local business or mail it in if needed.
 
Rot
Whatever you cannot refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle, then you allow to rot in the compost. This is the last of her R’s because it is the last resort and typically a very small amount leftover after going through the first four Rs.
 
The most impactful part of Bea Johnson’s talk for me, was hearing how implementing a zero waste lifestyle has shifted her family’s focus towards giving gifts of experience instead of things, allowing for more memories and bonds to be made. Instead of new toys for Christmas, her son got to go skydiving for the first time and still talks about it.
 
After the presentation, Green Canopy’s Director of Investor Relations and Impact, Susan Fairchild and Zero Waste Washington’s Heather Trim, kicked off happy hour by asking, “what is the next step you want to take in living zero waste and how can you make it happen?”

Now is the Time to Live into the World We Envision

By Kyle Mylius | Director of Investor Relations and Strategy | Green Canopy

Part one of this two-part series highlighted the residential real estate market opportunity in Seattle and Portland. 
 
Why is now the time to use business as a force for good? The region’s economic growth and prosperity have fueled urgent social and environmental challenges. If we fail to mitigate these unintended consequences, the costs to do so in the future might very well swamp the near-term benefits and wealth our robust local economy generates today. Instead, we can respond now to the observed market signals and feedback loops by investing some of the capital generated into thoughtful, holistic and practical solutions to those social and environmental issues.
 
At Green Canopy, we embrace the Chinese dictum, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” As a for-profit company backed by shareholders, we seek to make money and create long-term company value through various verticals in real estate. But we are also driven to create real estate projects and financing models that allow us to live into the world we envision as manifested within our Theory of Change. This compels us to use a portion of the company’s resources to create vitally important social and environmental value for our shareholders, homeowners and neighbors who collectively make up the fabric of the communities in which we live, work and play.
 
We do this by running toward these challenges and recognizing them as opportunities. For example, we help mitigate global warming by building net zero energy homes. In so doing, we create value in new homes — value that home buyers, renters, banks and appraisers will increasingly recognize.  In time, more and more home builders and will want to capture that value and build to a net zero energy standard, making meaningful progress toward slowing our local impact on global climate change.
 
Beyond this very practical business imperative, lies an awareness within Green Canopy that our built environment has tremendous impact on the natural environment. We recognize that we have a responsibility as a real estate developer to change the ways homes are built and perform. Therefore, we endeavor to design homes to have increasingly less impact on the Earth compared to typical “code built” homes. And aspire to ultimately design and build homes as carbon sinks and regenerative structures that help reverse global warming.
 
We need to find ways to alter humanity’s relationship with the environment, and have the courage to execute those new ideas. I’ve come to believe that each person should shoulder some of the responsibility for not only adhering to environmental best practices but for creating new, practical models for protecting our world. We owe the world our physical labour and our earnest brain power.
-Dan O’Brien, Food for Thought: How a buffalo herd taught me to be a responsible capitalist, Beside magazine Vol 2
 
We cannot succeed in our goals if we serve only the wealthy. Net zero energy homes should be accessible to all homeowners and renters, including the 35 million Americans who spend an inordinate amount of their income on energy bills. Accordingly, Green Canopy is expanding inclusivity in the urban neighborhoods we serve. We are doing this by creating investment structures that attract like-minded investors, enabling us to scale our work and build more affordable homes within desirable urban neighborhoods.

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We are often asked, “Why?” Or even, “We get that environmental sustainability, and features like net zero energy can also be financially profitable. But can’t you just let non-profits and public agencies tackle housing affordability?”  Our answer is a resounding, “No.” As systems thinking has taught us, social and environmental problem sets are inextricably linked. Solving for one without considering the other would be an inefficient and potentially even counterproductive use of capital.
 
Traditional urban residential development approaches and financing tools perpetuate multi-generational and systemic exclusion and inequality. The magnitude of the challenge demands a multi-pronged solution, as expanded on in the Seattle Times and and the New York Times. We are driven by more than a sense of moral obligation, more than an opportunity to both make money and do good. We do this work because we and our stakeholders enjoy power and privilege that — absent of taking a different approach — will only perpetuate and expand social injustice and environmental degradation in the place we all call home.
 
As long as we participate in social systems, we don’t get to choose whether to be involved in the consequences they produce. As such, we can only choose how to be involved, whether to just be part of the problem, or also to be part of the solution. That’s where our power lies, and also our responsibility. 
-Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power and Difference
 
Another question we get is, “So what is the cost for doing this work?” We have calculated the costs and it’s not as much as most assume, whether measured in profit margin to the developer or financial returns to investors. And what is often underappreciated, in part because it is harder to measure and quantify, are the benefits of reduced risks to the developer’s brand, the costs of obtaining permits and entitlements, and the ability to sell homes and differentiate value in a competitive market, to name just a few. Similarly, investors who back our work are taking a long-term perspective in seeking sustainable value creation and financial returns that do not extract value at the expense of others and the environment.
 
The stakeholders of Green Canopy work in earnest to use our time, talent and capital to harness the economic growth and prosperity of our region for the benefit of all. We acknowledge now is the time to engage and use business as a force for good, with more inclusive and less extractive approaches and business models than before — recognizing our power and privilege must be used responsibly and ethically. The time to plant the proverbial tree is now.

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Rockefeller Foundation Publishes Case Study on Green Canopy and the Company's Theory of Change

By Susan Fairchild | Director, Investor Relations and Impact | Green Canopy Homes

The Rockefeller Foundation strives to “promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world” by scaling transformative innovations, creating unlikely partnerships spanning sectors, and taking risks others cannot. To catalyze cross-sector pollinization from the social sector to impact investing, the Rockefeller Foundation recently released a case study on Green Canopy’s theory of change - “Putting Impact at the Center of Impact Investing: A Case Study of how Green Canopy Designed its Impact Thesis.”

"The case study provides an illuminating example of how investors can adapt theory of change to serve their impact management needs. By demonstrating the relevance and transferability of this tool for articulating, measuring, and managing impact, the hope is that this case study can contribute to strengthening other investors’ approaches, in turn contributing to building the evidence base for the “impact” of impact investments."

We encourage impact investors and impact enterprises to similarly consider integrating this tool into their organizations.  You can read more about Green Canopy’s theory of change and send any questions to susan@greencanopy.com.

Why Invest in a Hot Real Estate Market?

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By Kyle Mylius | Director of Investor Relations and Strategy | Green Canopy

Part one of this two-part series highlighted why now is the time to use business as a force for good?

In the last several months, investors have asked about the prudence of investing in a “hot” Pacific Northwest real estate market — a market that has experienced significant home price appreciation since 2013, with Seattle seeing an average 20% increase in the last year alone.
 
Green Canopy's response is emphatic. A multi-faceted housing crisis has created a compelling financial, environmental and social investment opportunity. Not just now, but for several years to follow. Understanding the market fundamentals and deciding how best to manage the inevitable risks is essential to any sound investment strategy — as a developer, as an investor, and as community leaders.
 
"It’s essential for investment success that we recognize the condition of the market and decide on our actions accordingly." — 
Howard Marks, The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

Howard Marks is one of the most successful investors of our generation, known for being an astute observer and risk assessor. Marks strategizes with the understanding that regardless of the economic cycle, there will always be risks with investing — and pockets of opportunity are also ever present. Those who take a contrarian view, seeking out less-obvious and more-manageable risk exposures, with smart and flexible investment structures, are rewarded by opportunities unforeseen and even derided by most.
 
“The trend is your friend” is a common investor phrase and useful tool for evaluating where to invest, or not. A visible trend in the Pacific Northwest is that the inventory of homes for sale remains at an all-time low while demand continues to be high. This is evidenced in several ways including the number of days homes are on the market before being sold and the persistent growth in home prices throughout our region.

At the same time, the Pacific Northwest continues to attract more highly-paid workers looking to relocate. This isn’t just the Amazonians, but many of the major Silicon Valley companies whose employees can sell their homes for a high price in California and buy at a lower price in the PNW. While Seattle’s median home price exceeded $750,000 recently, the market is a relative bargain compared to median home prices in neighboring West Coast cities: San Francisco ($1,200,000) and Vancouver B.C. (US $2,400,000). Portland has also experienced significant appreciation over the last five years, though the median home price is substantially lower,  $440,000 according to Redfin.
 
If demand growth begins to slow, there are a number of factors that will cause gross demand for homes to continue outpacing gross supply. For example, home supply tends to lag behind demand as it typically takes 12–15 months to acquire, build, and sell residential development projects. And in Seattle, the number of new construction home sales has not come close to the number in demand, even with the amount of population growth multi-family apartments and condos are absorbing.

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Data Source: NWMLS and U.S.Census Data 
Public agencies are working to adjust policies and support the high volume of new construction permitting requests, but bottlenecks still remain. Lenders continue to be conservative in extending credit against real estate. The construction industry across the U.S. has only recovered half of the skilled labor lost during the great recession — and many homeowners in the PNW are unwilling to sell. Despite having substantial home equity, PNW homeowners are not motivated enough to sell when they will be faced with the high costs to switch and the lack of options to upgrade.
 
The regional housing market imbalance of supply and demand may not be able to achieve equilibrium in the next year, or two or three. But it will eventually. Investment and development strategies focused on the single-family residential market must be structured to nimbly capitalize on the near term upward pricing trend and well-positioned to respond to inevitable cyclical shifts further down the road.
 

Email kyle@greencanopy.com to learn more about how net zero energy, single-family residential real estate investment and development funds can be designed to be flexible in response to market cycles.

Green Canopy's Theory of Change

Green Canopy's Theory of Change

By Susan Fairchild | Director of Investor Relations & Impact | Green Canopy

Those who visit the Green Canopy Headquarters will find, in our entryway, a reminder handed down by our CEO’s father. It’s a framed quote by the baseball legend Yogi Berra, reading— “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it.”

A Profile of a Movement Maker | Alicia Darvall

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by Aaron Fairchild

Imagine gathering over 200 business leaders in the middle of a massive continent, where humans have lived for tens of thousands of years. The purpose? To advance a nascent movement, using business as a force for good to positively change the world. The location of this gathering? The very birthplace of our oldest instruments. There — in the deep, red earth — in the heart of an arid land, water reaches to the surface forming natural springs. The combination of water and music has charged the region with deep communal and rhythmic energy. It is hard to imagine a better place to come together. That place is Alice Springs, Australia — the location of the first ever, 2017 Australian B Corps Champions Retreat.
 
B Corporations are for-profit companies, certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Behind the Australian B Corps Champions Retreat was a team with a leader — a visionary, validator, an organizer. A master engineer, who understands the elements needed to launch a movement from the ground and elevate it in the uplifting thermals.
 
I had the chance to find this person and talk with her a number of weeks ago and have been dying to write about her ever since. Alicia Darvall was the first Executive Director of B Lab Australia & New Zealand. When she was hired by the Small Giants team in 2014 to head up B Lab Australia, there were 13 certified B Corps in the country. After three short years, the Australian & New Zealand B Corps community has grown to over 230 certified companies. Alicia came to B Lab from, not surprisingly, a background in working with entrepreneurs and organizing festivals. She has over 15-years’ experience in senior roles at fast-growing, high-profile businesses and organizations, such as Moonlight CinemaMelbourne Fringe Festival and Melbourne Fashion Festival. As ED for Australia & New Zealand B Lab, Alicia provided strategic support to entrepreneurs; coached them to build on their values, engage within their community and stakeholders, and measure their impact.

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When I asked Alicia how she was able to grow the Australian B Corps Community so rapidly, her response was simply, “I followed flow without inserting my personal agenda.” Every movement needs its first follower, and Alicia is the ideal first follower. She is creatively inspired and wise enough to remove her ego in the effort to help others thrive. It is no wonder why B Lab elevated her. At the top of 2018, Alicia handed off the Australia & New Zealand B Lab reins to the talented Andrea De Almeida, and accepted the role of Executive Director of Global Partners. Her stated mission at B Lab Global is, “to nurture a creative manner required to build a movement that lasts.” Wow… To do this, she identifies and works with emerging B Lab regions to help them channel their unique cultural flow of energy to create movement and community.
 
In addition to helping new regions progress, Alicia works with B Lab’s network of networks, the B Lab Global Governance Council. In this effort, she helps the Council follow energy flows required to grow and develop, and then sustain their efforts through implementing earned income strategies.
 
After meeting with Alicia, I walked along the sidewalk in a shower of rain. I didn’t try and dodge the raindrops — it had been hot and humid for days and the rain refreshed my skin and soul. I couldn’t help but make the connection between the refreshing rain and our conversation. Alicia is a rare and rejuvenating leader who is tuned into the energy of others and understands that by following flow and not adding ego, amazing things happen. As a member of the B Corps community, Green Canopy is grateful that she is a leader in our network, helping to make our work lasting and transformative. Thanks Alicia!

Impact Assets IA 50 Impact Investment Fund Showcase

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“As impact investing grows exponentially, the IA 50 has remained a leading and trusted resource for impact investors of all experience levels,” said Jed Emerson, ImpactAssets Senior Fellow, and IA 50 Review Committee Chair.  “Our consistent and objective evaluation of impact fund managers is providing financial advisors and their clients with a starting place to make informed investment decisions.  And we are helping to catalyze the growth of impact investing by creating a centralized information source in a fragmented field.”

Green Canopy is honored to be featured on the 2018 IA 50 List as one of nine managers in the Real Assets category, one of 13 in Housing, and one of the 12 Certified B Corporations. See the press release here.

Leader in Sustainability, Presidio Graduate School, Features Green Canopy Cofounder, Sam Lai

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Green Canopy Cofounder, Sam Lai, was featured by Presidio Graduate School (PGS) in the article, "Net Zero Hero". Sam is an alumnus of the Sustainable MBA program at PGS — the graduate school that "educates and inspires a new generation of skilled, visionary and enterprising leaders to transform business and public policy and create a more just, prosperous and sustainable world." Presidio Graduate School has earned accreditation in the sustainability-sphere and acquired Pinchot University (formerly Bainbridge Graduate Institute).

Sam tells Shawna Cain, "I selected PGS after a process of visiting classes and interviewing students and asking what their experiences were like. I realized that what I wanted was:

  1. A tribe. I wanted to be connected to people who cared about what I care about. I didn't want to be just another number, just another competitor

  2. I wanted to deepen my commitment and I wanted have a broader view of the way the systems work that perpetuate some of these challenges like climate change that we deal with all the time


Finally, the biggest impact that I think graduate school has had for me, beyond some of the hard skills, is that when you go to Presidio Graduate School you're able to look deep within yourself, and understand how to optimize our own personal growth, and I don't think any graduate school is able to do that the way PGS does."

Green Canopy's Alexa Ashley further interviewed Sam on his time at Presidio Graduate School and the value he took away from the Sustainable MBA Program:

AA: How did PGS teach you to think in systems?
SL: One of the things we did in first quarter was systems mapping, which is its own discipline, where you look at different components of how the world is structured, how  businesses are structured, environmental systems are structured. You deconstruct them, allowing you to understand the components and then you can see how they’re integrated. So often in business you might be a specialist and you might have mastery in one thing — but you may be working 100% in the wrong direction because you haven’t taken that high-level, systems-level view.

AA: What is the most value that you took away from the Presidio Graduate School MBA Program?
SL: The opportunity to practice and take big risks, and explore ideas, that typically — in the business setting — there just isn’t enough bandwidth or space or willingness from everyone, to just take a wild idea, to play with it, to deconstruct it, and to go all the way with it in a risk-free environment.

I saw lots of people grow from not having much experience in public speaking to feeling comfortable with it at the end of the program. For me, I was able to take storytelling and public presentation and be able to have a very formal structure to bounce off of and play with to where now I feel very confident. I now have a process to be able to get from point A to point B in a very short amount of time because that’s what the process forces you to do. It says, “Okay you have an idea? Okay, test it. Prototype it. Get up and talk about it." That’s a lot of what we do in business. We iterate through ideas very rapidly — and that’s what’s required for progress. 

It’s really encouraging and energizing to see other people that are just as passionate about sustainability and improving our world and that they are professionals engaged in business, and the curation of those two characteristics are unique to the PGS tribe.

Watch Shawna Cain's interview with Sam Lai below and read her article, "Net Zero Hero".

From a Friend of Racial Hate Crime Victim, DaShawn

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by Dyesha Belhumeur | Green Canopy Finance Administrative Assistant

“Attacked for being a black man who slept with a white woman” sounds like a headline out of a 1954 newspaper. But it’s 2018, and this is now part of the story for a friend of mine, DaShawn Horne.
 
On the morning of January 20, 2018 DaShawn was attacked with a metal baseball bat, by an 18-year old who found out that his sister spent the night with DaShawn. Just over a week later on January 30, Seattle Time’s Sara Jean Green reached out to the family to document the details, leading to an outpouring of nationwide support on GoFundMe, news publications and blogs.
 
What the articles are missing, though, is DaShawn. I had the pleasure of attending High School with DaShawn and becoming close friends with his sister, allowing me better insight into the type of character he’s embodied over the years I’ve known him. He is a family man who puts his family above all else. And he is a loyal and dedicated friend who treats his friends like family. He is a new father who spends every moment he can making sure his 16-month-old son, Deion, knows his father will always be there. He is a brother who regularly checks in on his siblings, and a son whose mother has displayed an immense amount of strength at a time that would have broken most. He is one of the goofiest people I know, making faces and jokes with a laugh that creates more laughter.
 
One of his uncles sums it up best, “Shawn is a dynamic individual. There are very few people out there who can have people from all different walks of life, backgrounds, races, socioeconomic statuses, and education levels gathered in one room to support him.”
 
When you look at DaShawn, you would not know that he graduated from high school as a honor roll student, that he studied Criminal Justice at Eastern Washington University, or that he worked with the non-profit, AVID, whose mission is “to close the achievement gap” by mentoring underserved kids. Anybody who’s had the pleasure of interacting with DaShawn, would agree that to say, “he didn’t deserve to be blindsided in an act of hatred,” is an understatement. People often try to justify racial attacks by claiming the attacked looked like a “criminal” or a “thug”, but no matter someone’s outward appearance, nobody deserves what DaShawn is going through.
 
The unfortunate and sad reality is that for many black families, this is an all-too-frequent occurrence and everyday fear. As another one of DaShawn’s uncles puts it, “it’s just our turn to go through it,” and the question is simply, “whose family will be next?”.
 
We get tired of attending funerals, visiting hospitals, and posting #RIP hashtags. Every day, black men and women are targeted because of the color of their skin; surveilled, attacked, and killed. Images and stories of black bodies being hurt and destroyed seem to fill our social media and news feeds so much that society has grown numb to these images and their stories. It’s just another article, just another story. African American families should not have to coach our children on how to interact with police to ensure that they return home at the end of each night. “Always make sure your hands are visible; ask before you make any movements; never — for absolutely any reason — run; always make sure you have your ID,” and the list goes on.
 
Racism is systemic and a very-present reality today. It is deeply embedded in every social institution, interaction, and structure within the American society from the micro-aggressions in our day-to-day relations, to a housing-and-zoning system set up to disenfranchise blacks, to a justice system which is rooted in a racist foundation and reliant on black and brown bodies. It is the codependence of policies, practices, and ideas that have established a social construct in which it is not explicitly said, but understood, that the resources, rights, and powers available in this country are to be withheld from black-and-brown people.
 
White America has historically benefited from nearly four hundred years of racist beliefs and structures and largely become blind to its oppressive strength against minority groups. It is our life experiences and influences that shape us as people, our views of the world, and our beliefs, and to shake the weight of these historical constructs takes hard, introspective work. We cannot tackle systemic issues without first identifying our internal biases that shape our actions. We cannot change what happened to DaShawn, but we can take steps to eradicate the systems that perpetuate racism and these acts of hatred.
 
To start this work, support DaShawn’s family as they care for him and his baby, watch the eye-opening documentary 13th on mass incarceration as the current extension of slavery and read the University of Washington's article on how Seattle’s zoning laws stem from segregation and racism.

 DaShawn Horne 2010, with son Deion in April of 2017, Deion after a new haircut in January 2018

DaShawn Horne 2010, with son Deion in April of 2017, Deion after a new haircut in January 2018

Happy & Empowered

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It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to create a home for wanderers who cannot bow before the traditions of a single dwelling and a fenced yard. Who look beyond marriage and blood to gather brothers and sisters bound by more than custom and umbilical cords. Generous minds and loving hearts, laughing eyes and simple tastes who know that serenity at sunrise and peace at sunset are worth more than the treasuries of kings and IRA security. It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to gather together kindred spirits. Who look beyond what is and was to understand what can be, who know that love and compassion, joy and peace are our birthright stolen by a culture's madness and to band together the manipulations of frightened lives, wise minds, and bruised hearts, daring souls and brave spirits who know that love is worth the stars and friendship does not hide it's private anxieties behind sophistication and steel symbols. It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to move beyond jealousy and possession, isolation and imprisonment. To confront boredom and loneliness, sadness and lovelessness, to make known my secret needs and reveal my hidden yearnings, to risk self exposure as the only path to final freedom, to surround myself with the energy flowing from the earth's core, the passion of rivers and resilience of trees, and thus to clothe my dreams in reality! —James Kavanaugh | It's Time

Green Canopy is feeling happy and empowered from Empower Happy Hour this month— thankful for all presenters, sponsors and stakeholders who came together with us to celebrate Sightline Institute: a local, independent think-tank, who envisions an economy and a way of life that is environmentally sound, economically vibrant and socially just. Here are some highlights from the presenting impact organizations:

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Keynote | Ryan Honeyman | Lift Economy
Ryan gave a synopsis of his background including his start in psychology and criminal justice and a passion for "reforming the criminal justice system and prison reform." While reading some of his brother's Environmental Studies books, Ryan grew excited by the idea of using business as a force for positive change.

Lift Economy began by "wanting to help existing companies scale their impact." Ryan explains... "We started to realize that while it's great to do consulting work with companies, many companies are categorically excluded from access to capital— and especially women and people of color."

The Force for Good Fund created by Lift Economy, is a fund that is investing in women and people of color-owned enterprises. "How can we create an economy that works for the benefit of all life if we don't put more women and people of color in charge?"

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Petra Franklin | Dwehl
"The Dwehl founders came together to solve a problem that has a massive impact upon America's future, home ownership... and in the process we realized this was a prosperous business opportunity, that was better for all stakeholders...

In America, there are more people renting today than anytime in the history of the US census. And, as it turns out, renting is not working in their favor. The average net worth of a renter is $5,000 whereas the average net worth of a homeowner is $225,000. In addition, renters can expect to spend 30–50% of their income on rent, whereas homeowners can expect to spend 15–25% of their income on their monthly payment. The GenX and Millennial generation have come of home-buying age. They have jobs and they pay rent. In fact, they pay $535 Billion dollars in rent annually and Pew Research says that 72% would prefer to buy a house than continue renting, but they do not qualify for traditional home financing...

We see this as an opportune time to reinvent residential home ownership and we want to ensure this solution is better for all the stakeholders. By verifying three years of rental history and using that number as the basis for a home ownership payment, we are able to offer ownership of highly desirable homes with no downpayment and 5% financing.  Equity starts accruing immediately!

The mission of Dwehl is to grow the net worth of our customers but what we realized was Dwehl also presented us with an extraordinary opportunity to upgrade America’s housing stock to net zero efficiency!”  

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Kevin Bayuk | Force for Good Fund
"Lift Economy has been working with 100s of different social enterprises, mostly small-scale enterprises, trying to reinvent the economy— organizations that are trying to provide needed goods and services, but do it in a way that are non-compromising in terms of their potential social and environmental impact. These types of enterprises are chronically underfunded, under-resourced." 

Kevin went on to explain how Lift Economy saw a gap that needed to be filled, and thus created the Force for Good Fund as a way to fund B Corps who are seeking to model a more diverse and  inclusive ecomomy. 

"It's not traditional to be able to invest in the type of enterprises that we're prioritizing, wth the type of fund that we have."

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Bec Chapin | NODE
"We're building radically-sustainable homes and we're delivering them through an effortless customer service process. And we're doing it because of climate change."

"75% of the buildings that we're going to be using in 2050 don't exist today. So right now, we're building the stock of that... and we have the chance to shape the future."

"We think this is the answer... It's buildings that give back more to the environment than they take. Buildings that become ecosystem services, not just extractions. They're regenerative."

"A company that benefits everyone is the only company we can see ourselves being a part of."

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Aaron Fairchild | Green Canopy & Cedar Fund
"Imagine with me, if you will, a future where all of the energy needs in all of our homes, come from the sun...  where net zero energy homes are the norm. Imagine a future where issues of sustainability and poverty are inextricably linked."

"We have this impression that deep green, net zero energy homes are available only to the upper middle class and to those that can afford them. And these same homes (that are actually more affordable to own and operate through the energy savings) are not available to those that have the greatest need in our society...

Imagine a world where these good homes are affordable. Imagine a future with me where our wild lands are not fragmented by development... but rather our cities, through thoughtful design and density are the key to preserving our wild lands for all of life to thrive...

A future where we're not building regulatory walls that separate us— zoning and regulatory land use walls that create neighborhoods that are exclusive to only those that can afford to move in and have access to those amenities... 

A future of love and empathy for one another because we can see ourselves in the other. Because we live together. We're co-mingled and intermingled in diversity and by the way, we need that diversity of thought, history, perspective to be applied to finding solutions for that future that we envision... a future where our communities are resilient and vibrant because they're inclusive.

Imagine with me.. if you will.. where the hard-earned income that you generate through your labor, that you invest in your children and their future,  does not work at crosspurposes to that future that you envision. Imagine a future in which your hard-earned capital could accelerate and activate the future we envision and earn profits...

The Cedar Fund was designed to address these four issues: resource scarcity and global warming, the housing crisis of access and affordability, urban sprawl, and quality impact investment opportunities not reliant on direct government subsidies."

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Bettina von Hagen | EFM
"Everything we need to do to combat climate change... is right in front of us...

It's not just about the climate. It's about social equity, it's about distribution of wealth, it's about how we relate to each other...

The good news is that climate change could be the stimulus, not just for addressing the climate, but for addressing the fundamental ills of society that we know and that we recognize...

Strategies that we employ in forests, changing the way that we manage them, can double the carbon storers while at the same time yielding this broad range of benefits...

We have the most amazing solar factory in the world, right here in our forests. The needles and leaves are solar receptors. The trunks and the branches are the batteries. These batteries last forever... for hundreds of years."

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Alan Durning | Sightline Institute
Alan, the executive director at Sightline, touched on how the housing crisis today is a housing crisis of "cruel musical chairs... The only way to stop the rise of prices and of rents, displacing those with the fewest resources, is to provide enough chairs. We need more houses of all shapes and sizes...

The question is not, 'can we end cruel musical chairs?' The question is can we do it without sprawling... well, you can." Alan goes on to show how Tokyo, the biggest city in the world and more than 10 times the size of Seattle, has accomplished this by building more dwellings in the city. Vienna was another example cited by Alan.

"In every city where housing is affordable, the lesson is exactly the same for us in Seattle— you have to build enough housing for everyone who wants to be here."

All photos by Reagan Ashley and videos by Kyle Porter of Porterworks

Modern Homebuilder Magazine Feature

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Green Canopy is pleased to be featured in the Winter issue of Modern Home Builder Magazine. The feature titled "Green Canopy Homes: Problem Solvers" was written by Tim O'Conner in the "Smart Homes" section. Here are a few quotes:

"Communities and homebuilders are accustomed to working with companies that have craftsmen but that lack a larger purpose. Green Canopy strives to marry its skill for building quality homes with its belief that homebuilding can improve communities." 

"When Green Canopy Homes builds a new project, it gets the entire neighborhood involved. The company holds community meetings at the onset of every project, often before it takes ownership of the property."

"'We didn't start the company just to make money," Fairchild says, "We started started the company to make money work for positive change.'"

"In building energy-efficient homes, Green Canopy hopes to evoke change throughout the entire market."

"Affordable homes will build on Green Canopy's effort to solve social problems through responsible building. "Our cities are not vibrant if they are only enclaves of the affluent," Fairchild says.'"

We Are UW Fans

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Green Canopy is fortunate to have a couple executives who hold Executive MBA degrees from the esteemed University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, including CEO and Founder, Aaron Fairchild and CFO, Andy Wolverton.
 
The EMBA degree is “a rigorous, lockstep MBA curriculum, taught by the best business school faculty, to a select, accomplished cohort” and is designed to coincide with a typical work schedule, while providing a longstanding community and network.
 
After working in his father’s banking business for almost a decade, then gaining insight on energy-efficiency from working at Puget Sound Energy, Aaron decided to start his own business and realized the benefits of earning an MBA. “The EMBA experience showed me how much of a load I can really carry… I saw that I can build a business approach and model that serves investors, and their social, environmental and financial values as much as mine, while we collectively move a market and create positive and meaningful impact for the planet for future generations.” – Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild

Green Canopy CFO, Andy Wolverton, adds “The program helped me grow professionally in that it gave me another set of questions to ask. Going into a meeting, I had a new perspective and I was armed with examples that I had seen in class or topics that I was learning about that gave me a broader perspective on our business. It directly helped me be CFO in giving me confidence around how to communicate what I’m doing. Whether it’s to our employees or to our investors.”
 
The program allows the students to go back and add value to their organizations in real-time, in addition to providing long-term benefits. Because I was working at Green Canopy while going through the program and was, every night, reading case studies or articles and then having to think about them, talk about them in class, I was able to come back to the office and apply them right away. Some of the connections I have, who are a well-spring of knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise, are now people throughout the city, throughout the region, who I can contact and get advice from.”

The Foster School of Business’s EMBA publication, the Edge recently featured Aaron and Green Canopy in the article, “Building Better Homes for People, the Community and the Planet.” Here are a few quotes:
 
“Through harnessing the collective knowledge of the people I have met along the way and work with today, and coupling that with the education I received through the EMBA, I have come to understand that, while there are limits to everything there is very little that I can’t accomplish.” – Aaron Fairchild
 
(Green Canopy’s) homes are exceptional in both construction quality and design, and Green Canopy is one of the first urban infill companies in the region to programmatically build net-zero energy, four-and-five-star, Built-Green, and LEED-certified homes.” – UW, Foster School of Business
 
We’re the only for-profit homebuilder we’re aware of in America that was intentionally and deliberately started to combat and lessen negative impacts of climate change and resource scarcity via in-city homebuilding. We’re pivoting an entire market by engaging the real estate ecosystem continuum: from investors to builders, suppliers to banks, mortgage lenders to appraisers, agents to homebuyers. They’re all a part of the process.”–Aaron Fairchild
 
Read the full article and magazine on the Foster School of Business EMBA website.