"It would be really exciting to look practically at what you are doing with your building portfolio, dig in, and just together try to figure out what could these projects be worth in the deepest sense, in the triple bottom line sense,” Stuart said. “How can we begin to solve for the gap between what appraisers can and cannot value today in these projects, versus what that underlying deeper sense of value might be? Can we see if there are bridges to be built to at least acknowledge some of the extra value that green projects are creating?”
Stuart thought it might be possible to show one of First Green Bank’s real estate development borrowers that by investing a bit more upfront to get, say, that LEED Silver designation, that they would be saving considerably more in the long run.
Stuart understood that First Green Bank was not likely to have a lot of projects coming through the door that were designed to be green. “So it will not so much be an underwriting challenge as helping developers who might be open to tweak their projects,” Stuart mused. “If you are seeing them even a few months before construction, there might still be time to influence the design process and kind of mentor them along.”
Stuart and Ken talked about how they might work with that developer to identify the solid expertise to do a really green building led by a green architectural firm, one that would in turn identify an engineering firm that could fill out the green design side and then get it built right. There would be a learning curve for sure for everyone involved but Stuart maintained that in his experience, “often by the end of that first project the contractors love it, their workers enjoy it more because they are around less toxic materials, and everyone is excited to do the next one.”
Ken was eager to get started. “All we can do is educate and influence because we cannot mandate,” he said. In June 2015, Stuart will be visiting First Green Bank to lead an informal mentoring working session with staff, as well as a few key First Green Bank clients, to talk about the benefits and value of green buildings and effective green building underwriting.
A Conversation with Ken LaRoe & Stuart Cowan
Stuart Cowan of the regenerative design firm Autopoiesis LLC
December 2014—First Green Bank CEO Ken LaRoe speaks with Stuart Cowan, a principal with Autopoiesis LLC, a firm that applies the science of living systems to deliver innovative regenerative design. Stuart describes his work as a consultant to the developers of the Seattle's Bullitt Center, the world's greenest building. Together Ken and Stuart talk about how Stuart might help First Green Bank build out its green building Lending Portfolio through a mentorship with the bank's lending officers and by working with a local developer in the early stages of a project to pencil out the value of green enhancements.
LISTEN TO THEIR CONVERSATION HERE, BEGINNING WITH STUART COWAN DISCUSSING HIS WORK WITH REGENERATIVE INVESTMENT MODELS: