Impact Metrics

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

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



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



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



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



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



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 



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

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.”

The Dialog of Infill Communities


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.

The Green Canopy Meet the Builder community meeting is designed to introduce the company and our mission to inspire resource efficiency to the neighborhood; Green Canopy is a very different type of infill homebuilder. We flyer and mail invitations to the community to join us for an evening event that typically takes place in a local community center or library. During this event, the Green Canopy team introduces the company and team members. We put ourselves out there to receive input and feedback and to answer questions about construction, timelines and what to expect. 
Over the years we have met with hundreds of neighbors and learned so much about the communities in which we build. We have opened our projects to external influence, and while we can’t always accommodate, we always ask and listen with respect. 

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.

Our Colorful Debate

Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:

One of the great things about home building is the lively stream of passers-by who offer encouragement, ideas, and remarks about the project.  By far the most encouraging comments from people who stop are along the lines of “we’re so glad you didn’t tear this down and build a skinny tower” or “we appreciate that you’re keeping the original style.”  Thanks for that!

And when we painted the exterior of the house, this too generated a stream of comments from neighbors and visitors.  The color scheme was a mix of a vibrant green with an orange/red accent.  A few of us on the team were pretty enthused about the colors, but on the construction site the comments ranged from “I love it!” to “truly horrid” and even a clever “Oh, but I thought you wanted to sell the house.”

Oh.  Whoops.

Back at the G2B Homes office, we began a vigorous discussion, which in itself generated Sam’s recent blog post about our color choice.  But despite the fact that we actually liked these colors, we needed to address the obvious issue that many neighbors - people who would be living near and seeing this house every day -  did not.  That matters to us.  We didn’t want to present a product that would distract discussion from that which we get most excited about:  driving efficiency in existing buildings while ensuring quality, innovation, value and good design.

There were pros and cons to re-painting.  Obviously, the pros would be that we could remove a barrier to market acceptance (“make it look better”).  The cons were significant:  not only was this going to cost us time and money, it also meant covering new paint.  The obvious wastefulness in this was troublesome to us.  We are, after all, a BuiltGreen builder, and now faced the tension between waste and an attractive, salable product.

So we decided to bring the debate back to the neighborhood.   If we really needed to make a change, why not engage the very people who had a strong interest in the aesthetic of their surroundings?  We printed up flyers, got up on Facebook, invited people to engage, and held a neighborhood open house to let them decide the new color!  Over 40 people showed up, took a look at our swatch display, and voted. The winning color is great – we didn’t vote ourselves, but it was our favorite – and it is going to go up soon.

This entire debate – both within the team and with the local community – was so valuable and engaging that we are going to offer neighborhood input in every project.   We will select a palate of options and then take it out to for a vote (before the first coat!)  The result is neighbors participating in the improvement of their community.  What fun!

We’ll continue to use tools to help make the process fun and efficient.  If you want to follow the action, be sure to become a fan on our G2B Homes page on Facebook.