Introducing CleanFund’s Capital Insights Blog
The Bay Area has built a well-deserved reputation for spawning the world’s greatest innovators. Young entrepreneurs continue to swarm to Silicon Valley with dreams of redefining business and industries, while the streets of San Francisco boom with the new construction of skyscrapers and high-end condos. Innovation keeps the economy of the Bay Area at the center of the world, and nurtures a culture that continually challenges the mainstream while refusing to accept the status quo of any industry.
Sitting in sunny Sausalito are two innovators who possess the kind of tenacity and vision that has allowed them to see the opportunity to start a business with the mission of changing the world for the better.
John Kinney launched CleanFund in 2009, writing PACE history with the $1.6 million Sonoma Mountain Village (SMV) project, the first commercial PACE project ever to be privately financed. The success of Sonoma Mountain Village proved that timing is everything. As CFO of SMV’s owner, Codding Enterprises, Greg Saunders worked with CleanFund on the PACE financing, and recognized that CleanFund was in first position to realize the vast potential of the Commercial PACE (“C-PACE”) financing market. John and Greg teamed with Craig Hill, who’s 20+ years of public finance and policy work in California had helped to create PACE in 2008, realizing that their combined expertise was the ticket to success in the $60 billion commercial energy efficiency and solar market.
As CEO of CleanFund, Greg realizes that much of the progression of the C-PACE industry depends on his leadership and decision making for CleanFund. “My role is to help provide the vision, the strategy and the framework within which we can continue to build a great company that continually extends its leadership position in a nascent industry like PACE. What I bring to the table for CleanFund is deep experience across a number of sectors within the commercial real estate, structured finance, and renewable energy finance areas that will help CleanFund continue to stand apart from its competitors.”
“What’s going to keep us ahead is the culture of innovation at CleanFund”, Greg adds. “We are continually improving every aspect of how we approach the C-PACE business, and in the process establishing standards that are likely to be embraced by the industry for years to come, including how we originate, underwrite and package C-PACE bonds for securitization.”
John, a nimble-minded entrepreneur, uses his vast network and keen observations to anticipate the shifting conditions of the industry. “The industry continues to evolve, including the ways in which PACE financing can be utilized”, John says enthusiastically. “One example is that PACE financing can now be used to finance seismic upgrades in California, which underscores one of PACE’s primary foundation: enabling the financing of improvements to commercial properties that is also creating value for society.”
As leaders of an industry-defining company, John and Greg also know that a successful company is only as strong as the foundation it is built on. Greg acknowledges CleanFund has been fortunate during its growth phase to attract the type of talent that builds a strong company and that works together to define the rules of the road in the C-PACE industry.
“What makes CleanFund the leading C-PACE company is our expertise, our extensive relationships with commercial property owners and their vendors, as well as the tools and technology that we’ve built around executing C-PACE transactions. Our team has extensive experience in real estate development, construction, structured finance, public policy, PACE, energy efficiency and renewable energy all with a keen appreciation for what it takes to drive value for commercial property owners. We understand our customer’s business and that enables us to efficiently originate, underwrite and fund commercial energy efficiency and solar transactions. Our expertise in structured finance enables us to prepare and package our PACE bonds for securitization in the global asset-backed securities market, helping to create an entirely new asset class and driving down the cost of financing for our clients.”