Inspiring at the Intersection of Corporate Attitude and Climate Action

July 18th, 2014 by Krystal

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

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Horia Varlan

I met my wife, Susan, 14 years ago at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was a banker and Susan was forming a non-profit mentorship program for at-risk youth in south Seattle. She was attending the meeting to recruit mentors and came away with a lot more than she anticipated. We lived very different lives at the time however we shared similar values of social and environmental justice.

Over the course of the next several years I continued to feel juxtaposed in life. I was working to make money, and really wanted to be making a difference. The juxtaposed feeling culminated in meeting another couple on a hiking outing in 2003, when I was asked what I did for a living. When I responded that I worked in banking, the couple immediately looked at Susan and asked what she did for a living. When she said that she worked in the non-profit sector, they quickly struck up a conversation leaving me feeling like a third wheel. Ugh… it was time for a change.

I guess I share many of the attitudes of the millennial generation, meaning I am far from alone. I am ambitious and demand a lot from an employer in order to earn my respect and retention. I am fine working long hours from the office and from home if I am inspired, and I believe in perhaps a naïve notion that I can live an aligned life.

When I reflect on my own experience and look out at the world around me I see the intersection of two major factors that are driving our company, Green Canopy, and the future of business:

1) The prevailing cultural attitude of the “millennial” shared by so many born before and after 1981, and;

2) Society’s hard charging transition into a new world paradigm of severe resource constraints and climate upheaval.

The success of Green Canopy and other companies is limited only in our ability to positively respond to these two things.

The first of these requires that we inspire our employees and earn the right of their respect and continued employment. And whether the business of an organization is about addressing environmental challenges head on like Green Canopy or not, the most successful businesses of the future will intentionally conduct their operations in the most resource efficient manner possible. Simple, yet oh so difficult.

“At Green Canopy we recognize that we are firmly planted with everyone else somewhere along the spectrum of hypocrisy.”

After the culminating hike in 2003, I spent much of my time trying to create alignment in my life by finding ways to apply my skills and experiences toward environmental issues. That eventually led me to quit working at my father’s bank in order to start my own enterprise. And in 2008 I shared an idea I had recently been mulling on with a longtime friend. After a short period of time Sam and I began developing the plan and finding the right partners that would lead to starting Green Canopy over one year later.

At Green Canopy we recognize that we are firmly planted with everyone else somewhere along the spectrum of hypocrisy. Our mission is to inspire resource efficiency and – while we are extremely intentional and deliberately try to always make the most resource efficient and less environmentally harmful homebuilding decisions – we have yet to perfect our efforts in building the utmost in green and resource efficient homes. Sometimes we are faced with no other alternative than to make the less resource efficient or more wasteful decision. It sincerely frustrates the team when this happens. We certainly have green building design and development standards that we never sacrifice, but the cruel realities of market-based economics sometimes force our hand. And yet many times these very same constraints open up new possibilities. However, at the end of the day we are far from perfect. So when I talk about our company it comes from a position of deep humility and a desire to inspire others to take action.

Inspiring at the intersection of the prevailing cultural attitude and the new world paradigm of severe resource constraints is clearly tricky. How we go about it at Green Canopy is through delivering – for our employees – what Daniel Pink has written heavily about: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Intentionally building a company designed to deliver these three essential things to its employees took a lot of thought and dedication to cultural development. As a result of our culture we cannot help but to give employees autonomy to make their own empowered decisions, the ability to master what they are already interested in, and a binding sense of purpose. Inspiring at the intersection happens right there, with the binding sense of purpose. Developing a cultural framework that allows every employee to meaningfully engage in addressing that purpose is part of the work.

When Susan and I reflect on the journey of the last decade and the sacrifices that we have made as a family to get here, we know that it was well worth the struggle. We are aligned through our work and in our day-to-day lives and we are proud that through this career we are making a meaningful and lasting difference. Also, despite the hike and my feelings of career shame, my banking skills definitely come in handy at Green Canopy. The future of business requires innovation on every front, including capital.AaronSusan

image_miniAaron will be the Keynote Speaker at The Future of Business Conference in Bellingham, WA on July 31st. More information about the conference or to register click here.


NW Green Home Tour on April 26th Join us at Dinah from 11am-5pm

April 16th, 2014 by Krystal

This year we are excited to present Dinah – a compact, super-efficient home in Whittier Heights.  We expect that this home will completely over-shadow the tour – Dinah is taking over!  No, but really, we are excited about Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and Built Green’s third annual green home tour.  We had a great time last year when we featured Annie – and it is always a blast seeing the amazing houses being built and renovated around Seattle.  This year is shaping up to be even larger than last with more homes, more contractors, and more energy.

You can join our Green Canopy staff as well as the folks from SustainableWorks at Dinah on April 26th from 11am-5pm. If you are interested in Dinah as a homebuyer but are not able to make the tour – please give us a call to set up a free tour. 206.792.7280

Hope to see you there!

 

2014 Green Home Tour Logo

Portland’s Earth Advantage Institute is Serving Up Some Smart Classes!

February 26th, 2014 by Krystal

Aaron and I are always looking for ways to get the word out to the real estate community about how important energy efficiency and sustainability is in this market. When we launched the Green Genius program – it was our biggest effort to promote those instructors and schools who are building cutting-edge curriculum that keeps with the pace of industry changes. Today Aaron had the chance to fill in for me in Portland while I truck away on our Annual Report (keep your eyes peeled for that soon!). I was eager to attend a class at Earth Advantage Institute to see how they are embracing a greener market – especially since we have our hearts set on having a few Portland projects in our Work In Progress by the fall! Fingers crossed… Here is what Aaron had to say about the class this morning :) Thanks EAI!

From the desk of our CEO.

“Got up and drove to Portland at 4:30 this morning to attend a class at Earth Advantage Institute entitled, “Marketing for Green Homes”.
 
Well done EAI! Absolutely worth the drive. Loved the class and took away several great nuggets of information. Keep these coming. Green Canopy and our Green Genius Program highly endorses this class and we hope to promote the class if it is ever offered again.
 
The instructor, Erik Cathart, the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Earth Advantage, was knowledgeable, funny and very engaging. 
 
My hat’s off to you guys… Seriously, I took my hat off during the class! And if you know me, you know I rarely remove the trucker hat… ;-)”

Green Canopy & Climate Solutions Host the First Empower Happy Hour

February 1st, 2014 by Krystal

HeaderImg_Empower_29v3The inaugural Empower Happy Hour  this past Wednesday was an amazing success . Thank you for coming and helping to advance the discussion! And a special thanks to our co-host, Climate Solutions, for providing such a compelling topic to anchor the event! We had maybe 100 people attend and I spoke with several folks that were very appreciative for the opportunity to come together around the topic of the evening. We will certainly do this again.

Many conversations were held addressing the question, “How can clean energy gain broad support as an engine of shared prosperity and sustainable economic opportunity?” Many conversations spun out from this question to tackle neighboring themes. Here are some responses I heard from the evening:

“Democratizing capital to allow the non-wealthy to invest in clean tech companies and solutions.”

“ Tie social welfare programatic funding to clean tech incentives or taxes or messages, etc. Create a ‘What’s in it for me’ by connecting government programs to help the poor to our clean tech solutions of the future. “This program partially paid for by wind power wind falls…” you get the idea.

“ Educate, educate, educate… and start educating our children about our environmental challenges at the earliest ages possible.”

“ Demonstrate through stories how the clean energy economy helps builds the middle class, and offers family-wage jobs and more sustainable livelihoods than those tied to fossil fuels.”

“ Share and explore solution stories from oversees in the developing world that can inspire similar approaches here in the United States.”

Green Canopy has a special mission to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets, and it certainly is an inspiration to us to see a crowd come together to advance the discussion around topics that align with our mission. Thanks again to everyone for coming – and please join the conversation on Facebook #EmpowerHappyHour.

Until next time!

Last Courtyard in Paradise

November 27th, 2013 by Krystal

Front 02View this project on Houzz.  It is 38 degrees and sunny in Seattle – a forecast that is quite unusual for the Pacific Northwest. Despite the chill, I step into a home that is warm, cozy and filled with light. I love it. I know I say this about all of our Green Canopy Homes – but this one is truly a green dream home. Miriam is amazing.

Today I am meeting Ryan onsite. He is one of our most talented PM’s and is churning this home out nearly one month ahead of schedule. Impressive, Ryan ;)

Before we get started – it almost goes without saying – the most special thing about Miriam, is the interior courtyard.  We both enthusiastically agree. It is an amazing and quiet meditative space in the very heart of the home. The entire project seems to be planned around this space. The path from the front door to the courtyard makes me think of a conch shell – with a circuitous flow from the public entry and entertainment areas, spiraling inward to the heart of the home.

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Ryan gives me a tour of the home and we talk about the project and the components that help us achieve that Green Canopy VIBE. Value –Innovation – Beauty – Efficiency. Every Green Canopy Home grows from these 4 roots.

Value

  • Neighborhood – This home is walking distance (Walkscore 80) to both Seattle Children’s and U-Village as well as some cute local shops on 55th.
  • Energy Savings - With the power of an 18kW Heat Pump unit blowing overhead – a 32 degree day in Seattle is unnoticeable indoors. AND with a test-out score of 15,000kWh/year this home is definitely going to be a money-saver!

Beauty

  • We already said it once – but here it is again. INDOOR COURTYARDS ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF! Literally! We joked that you could enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning in your birthday suit, but no one could see you… basically you’re inside, but you are really outside! Fun.
  • Highest Ceilings Ever. Move over downtown lofts and luxury condos… we have 20’ ceilings in this home too.
  • That’s quite the fine façade. A mix of materials, color and the right proportions give this modern home a humanscale touch. Modern architecture often gets a lot of slack for being too “monumental” but Miriam not only has a dynamic façade but the massing is similar to other homes on the block. It makes for an eclectic but appropriately scaled home on the street that reflects similar massing and structures without copy-catting or invoking the “neo-crapsman”  builder style

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  • New Stair Spec! Its always exciting when our PM’s are able to create win’s for the company that can be repeated over and over again throughout our homes. This spec combines precast concrete treads with reclaimed beams from another Green Canopy Home. It’s a bit more expensive but the installation is faster. WIN
  • Re-envisioning a courtyard - Green Canopy was fortunate to salvage this homes original footprint – which is how we managed to get the inner courtyard in the first place! The original floor plan was a U-Shape with a courtyard that opened onto a full yard – we closed the loop, so to speak, and enclosed that fantastic space.
  • New bamboo closet systems! Pretty and renewable!

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Energy Efficiency

  • The original home on this lot tested in at 22,000kWh and tested out at 15kWh. While that is an impressive transformation – Ryan, who is also our HVAC guru, has created a personal goal to have his homes test out at 14,000kWh. Go Ryan!
  • All of homes have the bells and whistles of the Energy Efficiency Seal - the 4th root in our 4 Roots. It also has some additional features that are pretty cool: Convection cook-top range (a product that seemingly works via magic and was created by wizards); As well as Bottom-loading freezer. Why is this efficient? The short answer: Cold air sinks – when you open your freezer air escapes more easily if it is up top. Period. We are just keeping the air where it wants to be.

Miriam is an all-around classy and unique home – that was recently snatched up in our new Presale program.

Happy Holidays!

Additional Photos on Remodeling and Home Design

Gearing Up For Fall OR Six Reasons We Did Not Blog This Summer

October 16th, 2013 by Krystal

So blogging during the summer was a bust for Green Canopy – clearly. I can offer any number of excuses, and I will, but let’s first just say that reading blogs about residential real estate, building, the economy or any number of relevant-to-work-not-pleasure topics while on vacation is not something that Green Canopy endorses anyway. We hope you all had an amazing summer. And now that you are gearing up for the holidays and getting back into the swing of working, school, shorter days and rainy weather that keeps you inside and perhaps on the computer longer – we hope that you will come back to our blog.

There is a lot going on at Green Canopy and we are now considering switching things up a bit with the blog. We are going back to our roots. Our 4 Roots to be exact. Instead of focusing solely on the real estate market we will be blogging under the themes of Value, Innovation, Beauty and Energy Efficiency. Every Green Canopy Home grows from these 4 Roots and we are working hard to develop a program that defines each of these and answers the question “What is a Green Canopy Home?” Many of you may have read about our 3 Roots and our Brand Pillars, V.I.B.E., and this is something that we have decided to simplify and combine into one cohesive concept. We want to put our work out there in a way that is transparent and inspirational in a message that comes from our whole team and not just the geeky marketing genius that is me. I will be interviewing our project managers, photographing and documenting our projects and process to share with the world. Sure this has been done before – but not by us. And so what? We have a story to tell and a lot of cool behind-the-scenes shenanigans to share. Join us!

6 Reasons why Green Canopy did not blog this summer:

  1. Umm… the weather. More time spent outside digging in the dirt and enjoying the Emerald City in the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Best. Summers. On. The. Planet.
  2. Too much going on. Green Canopy moved from Fremont to Georgetown (there is still a draft blog about this sitting in the queue -  and while it was fantastically funny, it just never got released or finished – email me if you are interested in reading a draft blog about our move).
  3. Too much going on Part 2. We launched a number of things this summer including Green Canopy Custom, our Presale Program and have been working on the Green Genius Awards behind the scenes.  A lot to blog about without a lot of time.
  4. Alder Fund. In case you haven’t read about this here is the Press Release from a couple of weeks ago. Green Canopy was busy this summer raising millions of investment dollars (literally) to fund the construction of our homes so we can keep churning out the good work!
  5. Children and babies and family and fun. While it may look like Green Canopy never stops, having just purchased our 50th property (GO US). We do stop and make time for family. I could take a moment to blog in the evening when I get home – but sometimes the weather is just too perfect and a family walk is more exciting than a blog. Not to mention – our very own VP of Operations is now a new DAD! Congrats to him and his family. We really cannot wait until he returns. Our CEO can hardly manage without him.
  6. And the 6th reason why we did not blog… Well, let’s just chalk it up to Growth. We are growing. We are hiring, we are getting bigger and better and bolder than ever before. We are succeeding and we are rocking Seattle’s socks off. We are building homes as well as relationships and making the tides rise because that’s what we, as builders, do during the summer to help us get through the winter.

So stay tuned for the good and the bad to come through the seasons.

Thanks!

The Green Canopy Team

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New Classes Starting this Summer!

June 19th, 2013 by Krystal

BiAnnual Schedule Flier

BiAnnual Schedule Flier

Limited Supply Fuels Appreciation… for now

May 28th, 2013 by Krystal

I have been writing for months now about the lack of supply in our market. As a result of the limited supply the market made a radical shift around this time last year from a being a buyers’ market to being a sellers’ market. Currently it is not uncommon for us to receive multiple offers on our homes, or for them to sell over our original list price. This begs the question, how long can this last?
Inman reports that homebuilders are beginning to kick it up a notch and build more homes in response to the lack of supply, and yet 90% of home sales in the U.S. are existing home sales, or re-sales. It is my belief that, in Seattle, the market will continue its heated rate of appreciation fueled by the supply constraints; however it will slowly taper off as home values continue to climb. When existing homeowners begin to realize greater equity, they will begin to have the ability to sell their home and use the proceeds to buy a better home. As more and more homeowners contemplate selling and begin to take action, the lack of supply will gradually disappear and supply and demand will equilibrate. When that comes to pass home appreciation rates will level off and normalize.

Inman News
Given that Seattle has an unemployment rate under 6% it is hard to say just when supply and demand will come into balance. This is still one heck of a desirable town to live in and it seems like the majority of our homebuyers are coming from out of town for job related reasons. As the local unemployment rate continues its decline toward full employment, home values will continue to rise fueled by more demand than supply. Given this influx of homebuyers into the area we could be realizing an appreciation trend line that will outpace the rest of the country for months to come.