Transforming communities with green infrastructure means delivering more, better, for all.
The founding team who first envisioned Greenprint Partners began with a conversation about a shared dream. They wanted to revitalize challenged urban communities by turning vacant, and even blighted land into community assets with real social, economic, and ecological value. The question that day, and every day since then is “How do we build a model that is sustainable? How do we build a model that can grow?”
The most successful social entrepreneurs look to their mission as the north star, and their values as the guide rails as they explore the various routes to achieve their vision. At our core, we an urban revitalization company.
Green infrastructure transforms communities.
We partner with cities to deliver more, better, for all.
We knew from the earliest days that our model needed to be privately financeable in order to be scalable, because relying on public funding from cash-strapped cities, or on ongoing charitable donations not a long term solution. Our first pilot projects involved planting fast-growing tree farms on vacant properties. The driving idea was that tree farms would immediately improve properties, by removing blight and improving soil and air quality. They would also be privately funded, because investors could be paid back out of the proceeds from the timber harvest. With initial seed investments, we set out to test this concept with some of the hardest hit U.S. cities, transforming several blighted vacant properties into hybrid poplar tree farms.
Any business, whether a mission-driven social enterprise or a traditional company, learns by doing. Our learning curve included several challenges that shifted our outlook on the large-scale viability of the tree farming model. We are transparent about the lessons we learned along the way in an effort to help the broader community of change-makers learn alongside us.
First, it was challenging to attract private investors. First, they would have to wait at least two decades for the first growth and harvest cycle of the trees to begin recouping their investment. Second, there was a genuine risk that tree farm harvests would not generate enough revenue to pay for the cost to deliver them. This is because urban tree farms would have to compete on cost with their traditional commercial competitors who operate at the scale of 10,000-25,000 acres for a single farm, whereas our urban farms were more likely to be around five acres on average.
Another key challenge was the cost of maintenance; because the tree farms were in urban spaces, they required more frequent maintenance visits to ensure they were upheld as an amenity and never became overgrown or littered.
Over the course of our initial tree farm pilots, we continued to listen closely to our city partners, and in doing so, gained a greater awareness of the value of the trees in a growing industry - green stormwater infrastructure for stormwater management, a discipline that fit perfectly with our mission, and that would ultimately prove to be far more investable and scalable.
With the guidance of city partners, our staff, advisors, and our community of supporters, we uncovered and began investing in the next generation of our company’s growth. With our mission as our north star, and guided by our vision and values, we began offering more holistic green infrastructure development services. With a sharper business model, a growing team of dedicated professionals, and the encouragement of our community, we’re excited to continue this journey toward our achieving our vision.
By 2050, every U.S. city facing stormwater management challenges is implementing a comprehensive green infrastructure plan, the natural choice for strengthened community, shared prosperity, and ecological health.