Great Ideas for Greening Your Money

Thanks to all who joined us at the recent launch of the Sustainable Princeton Great Ideas Breakfast series, hosted at the Princeton Public Library.   The topic for this initial breakfast was "Greening Your Money - Investing with Intention." Three dollar bills on top of a green shrub

The panel, moderated by Michelle Cash of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, included Theodore Casparian, Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, Mark Censits, co-founder of CIEx, Community Investment Exchange and Don Greenberg, Solar Energy Consultant, Community Energy.

Great ideas from the panelists are highlighted below and we have also created a new resource page on sustainable and community investing where you can find more details, links and contact information.

Sustainable Investing Overview

Theodore Casparian, a sustainable investment financial advisor, described the three key aspects of sustainable finance as security selection, community investment, and shareowner advocacy.

He recommended that everyone ask: what are your investments funding?  For example, you might unknowingly be funding a company that contributes to exploitation of workers or decimation of rainforests.

To address these concerns, you can either steer an investment advisor to invest in companies that match your values such as energy efficiency and waste reduction, or away from companies that do not match your values.  Casparian noted there are mutual funds and indexes that by design do not include certain industries at all, like gambling, pornography, weapons, alcohol, abortion, tobacco, or nuclear power. 

Community Investment 

Mark Censits of CIEx Community Investment Exchange described his plan to link local business owners looking for capital with investors when his business is operational in the fall.  He noted that local investing helps strengthen and brings value to the local economy and community.  In addition, local investment may offer a greater total return with lower risk, since investors/lenders know the people and places involved, and capital seekers feel a heightened sense of responsibility to their (local) investors.

Investing in Home and Community Solar 

Solar Energy Consultant Don Greenberg explained that investing in home solar is also investing in the local community:  “It used to be that if we wanted green energy we had to pay a premium but with the solar leasing model we can save anywhere from 15 to 50% off our electric bill and have the option to lock in rates.”  He added that New Jersey is home to 448 solar companies, is ranked 3rd in the nation in solar industry jobs, and is estimated as employing 5,700+ people, thus by investing in solar you are also investing in the local economy by creating jobs.

One idea that was met with considerable excitement by the audience was that Princeton neighborhoods could invest in a community solar farm, sharing the costs and benefits of a larger scale solar installation by which participants would receive clean energy while saving money.

Sustainable Princeton's Green CORE

A big thanks to Sustainable Princeton Green CORE (Community Outreach and Residential Engagement) volunteers Annarie Lyles, Alexandra Bar Cohen, Lauren DeMates, Yamile Slebi, and Andrea Nylund for organizing the Great Ideas Breakfast series.   To learn more about the Green CORE and other volunteer opportunities, please Contact Us.

We hope you can join us for more Great Ideas Breakfasts on the last Thursday of the month, at 8:30 a.m at the Princeton Public Library's Community Room.   Our next Great Ideas Breakfast on Innovative Energy Solutions will be on March 27, 2014.  See our Homepage Events List for updates on the Great Ideas Breakfasts and other local sustainability events.