Green Canopy

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:

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

Goldman Sachs Recognizes Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild

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BY  AARON FAIRCHILD
I believe in a future where deep green and net-zero energy homes are affordable and the norm. A future where our communities are diverse, inclusive and resilient, and where people who believe and invest in that future earn profits. Being raised by an entrepreneurial single mother imparted on me the importance of caring and nurturing, while also working hard to provide. Since the age of 15, my labor has been built upon this foundation from my mother. I have stumbled and failed and made mistakes along the way. I have succumbed to fear and self-doubt. At times, the immensity of the challenges we face seem daunting and impossible to solve; like I am frantically shooting a toy water-pistol at a raging wildfire. But when I lift my eyes and look around, I see that I am not the only one trying to douse the flames of environmental destruction and social inequity. Intentional and like-minded people all around the world are forming companies to be used as forces for good. And these companies are changing the nature of work by holding each other up to realize the future we believe in.

I am grateful for the recognition by Goldman Sachs and to be associated with an organization whose people are recognizing their own interconnectedness, and working to create positive change from within. Goldman’s people are on the arc of transformation and by recognizing me, a founder of a certified B Corporation, they are linking arms with a global community of over 2,000 companies in 50 countries across 130 industries. Organizations like B Corp help bring companies together in community to advance our collective work of creating a more inclusive economy. Certified B Corp companies believe in creating immense enterprise value in order to make money work for positive change. We work to out-perform the current market, and collectively utilize capitalism to help bend the arc of history toward justice and a regenerated world in which all life thrives.
 
I am hopeful that this award will create greater awareness for companies like Green Canopy and the world we believe in. The founders of Green Canopy started with a shared set of beliefs guiding their entrepreneurial spirit. The shareholders of Green Canopy invested with these beliefs guiding their  decision. Our lenders provide debt to Green Canopy because they want to leverage these beliefs into shifting paradigms. Many of the stakeholders and subcontractors who we work with also share these beliefs. And, of course, our homeowners, after experiencing living in a Green Canopy home, deeply connect with these beliefs as well. It is a broad and diverse ecosystem that Green Canopy works within, and given this interdependence, the award is more about these relationships than any one link. Being a link in this chain requires a commitment to earning profits as a means to creating the future we believe in, not the other way around. 
 
Thank you, Goldman Sachs, for this award. I am honored and would like to use the recognition to acknowledge all of the people at work using business as a force for good. These purposeful people are standing shoulder to shoulder, laboring to ignite a new wildfire; A wildfire of hope and transformation which won’t be stopped until the deep work of creating the better world of our beliefs has been accomplished.

Architectural Salvage: Then & Now

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When Green Canopy began, our region was in the grips of a housing crisis. Streets were filled with “for sale” signs that wouldn’t budge. It seemed as though everyone wanted to sell before the market dropped further, and that no one really wanted to buy a home. Green Canopy’s solution was to acquire existing homes and deeply remodel them as certified Built Green Remodels for sale. The Company’s mission is, and has been since that time, to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. Remodeling existing homes using sustainable methods and materials and certifying the home Built Green, was at the time the most viable and sustainable method for accomplishing the mission during the last housing crisis. However, as the market began to shift, Green Canopy began feeling the symptoms of a new emerging market crisis. Today’s housing crisis is a result of a shortage of supply and there are more people looking to buy than there are homes to acquire. The market economics have changed, making it no longer viable to buy homes, remodel them to a rigorous green building standard and remain in business. Rather than bemoan the current market, Green Canopy can now lean into its mission with a greater sense of purpose.

Green Canopy’s homes are nearly three times more energy-efficient than the average Seattle home.
It is difficult to achieve the same efficiency in an older home that you can when building a new home. A Green Canopy home includes energy-saving appliances, optimized heating and cooling systems, and is built with air-sealing, insulation and a design that helps to properly regulate the temperature of the home. Even if an old home is renovated with the same benefits, the efficiency of the remodeled home cannot match the efficient structures of a new Green Canopy home.
 
Building more homes on each lot is more resource efficient and helps to preserve the bioregion around us.
By optimizing each lot in the city, we can slow down the rapid expansion and sprawl that is inevitable as our cities continue to grow in population. By keeping our housing dense within the cities, we can continue to enjoy the beauty of the landscape around us and survive on the resources that it supplies us with. Shy of this, the metropolitan area will more rapidly sprawl and it will be harder to preserve the surrounding natural resources that we rely on. Adding density is simply one of the most resource efficient things Green Canopy can do. 

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Making the most use of each build-able lot helps to offset the negative impacts of gentrification and displacement. In a very short period of time we have become acutely aware that there are not enough housing options to equitably support our population. An emphasis on increased density is intensely important given that demand is forecasted to continue growing relative to supply.  A sustained increase in demand will likely continue to drive prices up, and moderate- and low-income households further out unless we build more housing in all areas of the city. Building more homes on each lot, allows us to offer more resource efficient and well-built homes to a broader variety of occupants.

 
The previous structures that Green Canopy deconstructs, is salvaged and repurposed.
Although the Company no longer exclusively remodels existing homes, most of the existing structures that are deconstructed get to live on in other projects within the community. In 2014, we began a deconstruction company to learn what it takes to manage responsible deconstruction of existing homes. After training the team and taking apart three projects piece-by-piece, the team learned that it was simply not cost effective to continue in that manner. , As a result, the Company worked to build lasting relationships with local organizations to selectively harvest reusable material from existing homes. By adding only one or two more days to the process, the materials include embedded infrastructure like floor and wall-framing members, not just old door nobs, or cabinets. Today, the company works with groups like Ballard Reuse and 118 Design to recycle, reuse and repurpose materials from existing homes.
 
118 Design is a part of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission; their program works with young men (ages 13 — 26) in the Rainier Valley to decrease gang membership in Seattle.  The young men in the 118 Street Outreach program transform broken and discarded lumber into quality, urban inspired, one-of-a-kind furniture.
 
Their Street Outreach program offers:

  • Internships

  • Technical job skills training

  • Workplace environment education

  • Business and entrepreneurial classes

  • Leadership and role model opportunities

  • Mentors and counseling services

  • Accountability and drug testing

 
Additionally, Green Canopy can occasionally offer the neighbors of an existing home an opportunity to claim items from the home to reuse and repurpose before these other organizations gain access. A few items that neighbors have been excited to reclaim have been: kitchen cabinets, a farm-house sink and vintage light fixtures, etc.

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Where Exactly Do Our Deconstruction Materials Go?
Taken from a sampling of three of our projects, this is where we have donated and diverted waste from the landfills to (see individual waste diversion reports here):

•    Asphalt Shingles: Evergreen Shingle RecyclingCDL
•     Construction Debris: Clean ScapesCDL
•    Crown Molding: Ballard Reuse
•    Washer Dryer: Ballard Reuse
•    Lath: 118 Design
•    Clean Wood: 118 Design
•    Siding: 118 Design
•    GWB: New West GWB, Resource Recovery
•    Metal: Recycling DepotSeattle Iron and Metal, CDL
•    Wood: Ballard ReusePort Townsend Paper
•    Windows: Habitat for Humanity
•    Brick: Dirt Exchange
•    Concrete: Renton Concrete Recyclers
•    Cardboard: CDL
•    Land Clearing: Dirt Exchange
•    Rock and gravel: Dirt Exchange

We continue to inspire resource efficiency by salvaging architecture and have taken the necessary steps to get even better at it. When we started, it looked like remodeling; now it needs to be mindfully crafting more well-built, eco-friendly homes for a vibrant and diverse city. 



Learn more about how to Recycle Construction & Demolition Materials
Summer is just around the corner and that means the building season will soon be in full swing. Do you know how to properly dispose of the waste materials from your projects? Please join us on June 29th to hear from two speakers who will provide strategies to manage construction and demolition materials sustainably and legally. Kinley Deller from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Solid Waste Division will talk about existing and forthcoming codes regarding recycling and disposal of these materials, and Justin Hooks, Vice President of Construction Planning at Green Canopy Homes, will offer tips for reaching a 100% recycling rate in your projects. The event is sponsored by the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.

When: Thursday, June 29th  11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Snoqualmie Falls Room at King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review office, 35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210, Snoqualmie. 
Who: This event is open to the public and will be especially helpful to contractors
Cost: Free & lunch is provided

The Dialog of Infill Communities

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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.

The Transformative Power of Frameworks

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What impact could we have if we were all just a bunch of tree huggers united under a green canopy? Our logo is definitely symbolic of the work that we are doing to change the course of climate change - and certainly everyone knows that we have sang our share of kumbaya - but it's the fast, hard data that delivers our projects and helps us work toward improvement at Green Canopy.

Decision making and benchmarking frameworks are integral to Green Canopy’s operations. Our acquisitions team uses a data driven framework and metrics to identify and purchase attractive development properties. Our project managers use a framework for guiding construction related decisions from start to finish. The reporting outputs are used to inform and manage future acquisitions and projects.

These carefully crafted systems support us in driving toward consistent execution and continuous improvements. We learn from the successes and failures of our decisions by establishing baseline metrics and measuring and reporting against them. This ultimately makes Green Canopy a better homebuilder. And importantly, creates a stronger and more resilient company, reduces risk for our debt fund members and builds a more valuable brand for shareholders.

Investors face similar challenges, especially those pursuing positive social and environmental impacts alongside financial performance. Without a guiding framework, impact investors are left to untangle a confusing mix of information and options. An impact framework can be a transformative tool enabling investors to move beyond intuitive guesswork toward more systematic and objective decision making.  

We hope you will join us in attending an event, Impact Investing with Purpose, being hosted by The CAPROCK Group and SNW Asset Management on Tuesday, October 20th, 6 to 8 PM at Seattle Impact HUB. Green Canopy board member Kyle Mylius will moderate a panel exploring the evolution and use of impact investing frameworks and metrics. Panelist Luni Libes, a familiar face to many of you from Fledge and Pinchot University, will offer insights into The Pinchot Impact Index, the subject of Luni’s recently published book. The event will close with a preview of CAPROCK’s iPAR impact investment framework and evaluation platform.

Impact Alignment: Where Impact Product Meets Impact Buyers

Contributed by: Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

I have often cited Daniel Goleman to explain a consumer’s desire to make an impact with his or her invested dollar. In Ecological Intelligence, Goleman explains that consumers will always buy what they perceive to be a less toxic or more environmentally friendly product given price parity with a competing product. While the consumer may not be buying the perceived “better” product to make a positive impact in the world, they are likely buying it because they view the product healthier or better for their family. 

This consumer behavior pattern offers a direct analogy for financial investors. It goes without saying that investors invest capital to generate a return. If an investor can invest in an opportunity that generates a similar risk-adjusted rate of return to competing investment opportunities yet the investment will also deliver outcomes that better align with their values, then the investor will likely choose to invest their capital in such a value-aligned opportunity. 

Enter Green Canopy. Our mission is transformational; our company was deliberately created with the mission to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. We have two impact product offerings for consumers to buy.

Our primary impact product is our homes. We build homes that are more environmentally sustainable than what is required by city code and  have third party  audits  verifying our homes meet or exceed a local or national green building standard. In other words, a Green Canopy home is healthier for the planet, consumes less energy to operate (we guarantee that), and is simply a better home than the comparable code-built home. The kicker: we price our homes for sale on par with other homes on the market. We have to price our homes competitively with other homes because if we don’t, buyers would choose to acquire the less expensive yet comparably located and sized home. So buyers of our homes acquire a Green Canopy home at a competitive price that delivers outcomes that align with their needs and values. 

Our second impact product is our real estate fund offerings. We currently manage two debt funds that generate competitive returns for investors. If it were not for these funds, we would not have enough debt financing to build more environmentally sustainable homes at our current scale. Investors in these funds buy membership units that are designed to generate competitive rates of return and deliver outcomes that align with their values. 

I believe the United States has entered a relatively new era where the general market is looking for values-aligned solutions. I witness this daily in both of our product offerings. However, most consumers and investors remain price sensitive and will continue to be so. This is where many people believe the government and foundations can play a role. However, I don’t believe it is incumbent on the government or others to subsidize product offerings, or for that matter the market to simply accept the market-price mismatch. 

Entrepreneurs innovate. The role of being an entrepreneur is to figure out how to bring new product to market in such a way that the market is willing to pay for it. Government incentives and infrastructure are helpful catalysts and support structures for market change. But the role of efficiently bringing new product to market is ultimately the role of entre- and intra-preneurs. 

Additionally, foundations, the government and other mission-driven sources of capital can aid in providing lower cost of capital to kick-start product offerings and help stimulate demand (think of the Bullitt Center or the ZHome development). However, values alignment should not be seen as an impediment to bringing socially and environmentally impactful product offerings to market—it should be used as a competitive advantage. Sound business people focused on values-based product offerings will continue to innovate within the cost/price constraints of the market and ultimately bring more and more highly sought after product to meet consumer demand. Impact alignment and the balance between supply and demand are really just a matter of time and innovation.

Community Opportunity: How to Impact the Seattle Housing Market

"The current fight over how we should pay for affordable housing, and who will fund it, is beating on the wrong drum."

Social and environmental impact investing and businesses continue to capture the interest and imagination of the Pacific Northwest, part of a broader global trend. Local early adopters affiliated with Element 8Impact HUB SeattleSeattle ImpactMission Investors Exchange and other institutions and individuals have forged impact investment paths that many others now find themselves traveling. It’s exciting to see the local impact investing ecosystem and communities flourish. However, a market imbalance persists with more impact investor dollars available than the limited number of qualified investment opportunities can absorb. Fortunately we’re seeing signs that the supply of impact investment opportunities is starting to catch up with demand from impact investors.

Green Canopy is an example of an impact-investor funded company that has been fueled by local early adopters. The company operates in a commodity industry: designing and building single family homes. However, we have been fortunate to attract thoughtful, impact-motivated equity and debt investors, due in large part to our mission, vision and values focused on achieving long term positive environmental and social change while simultaneously pursuing solid financial results.

Since 2011 Green Canopy has acquired nearly 90 projects; steadily building a community of homeowners, real estate agents, employees, shareholders and fund members that share our passion to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. Importantly, we pursue our mission while being uncompromising in achieving key sustainability metrics, paying our employees a fair wage, selling our homes at fair market prices and generating long term shareholder value. Green Canopy has an opportunity to demonstrate it is not only possible, but highly rewarding for all involved to create and operate under a business model predicated on shared, blended value creation.

Similar opportunities are emerging across a wide spectrum of investment strategies that seek to satisfy growing consumer and investment demand for highly impactful market-driven solutions. As Seattle continues to attract tens of thousands of employees each year to fill quality jobs at companies like Amazon, Nordstom and Microsoft, our entire region feels the benefits. And yet, we are all faced with the unintended consequences of the additional infrastructure needed to support increased demand for critical services, including affordable workforce housing. The current fight between the City and the Coalition for Sustainable Jobs and Housing over how we should pay for affordable housing, and who will fund it, is beating on the wrong drum. Neither side seems to be asking the right questions or putting forth a broadly acceptable or effective solution for quickly increasing the supply of affordable workforce housing. 

One example of an alternative solution is Bellwether Housing’s recently launched Seattle Futures Fund. Bellwether has successfully developed and managed affordable workforce housing in Central Seattle for 35 years. However, as affordable housing has become an increasingly rare commodity in the communities Bellwether serves, the organization has had to innovate how its projects are financed; necessity = the mother of innovation. Through the Seattle Futures Fund, Bellwether believes it will more rapidly scale the number of units available to house social workers, teachers, baristas, police officers, firefighters, government workers, data center workers and others that serve our communities. A potentially wonderful, local example that attracts private capital as part of the solution to develop housing that is affordable and accessible to our urban working families.

As a community, we must collaboratively develop innovative, smart, market-driven solutions to problems that impact a wide range of constituents. Hopefully, a greater supply of viable impact investment opportunities for investors to assess, like Bellwether’s Seattle Futures Fund, will be forthcoming in the near-term. In the meantime, we would encourage investors and entrepreneurs alike to continue viewing our social and environmental problems through the lens of impact opportunity.


Contributed by Kyle Mylius, Board of Directors for Green Canopy, Inc. & Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.