We entered a competition recently called Mission Small Business by Chase to win a $250k grant and below is our application essay. We find out in two months if we won!
tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?
Eco Brooklyn is a small New York construction company who has established itself as the most cutting edge green builder in the area. People come to us when they want help in the most forward thinking solutions to green building and ecology.
The techniques we used three years ago are only now becoming known in the larger green building community and the techniques we are developing today are several years ahead of the “competition”.
Eco Brookyn’s success comes from this focus on the cutting edge and the reputation it has garnered us. We are regarded as the leaders and trend setters in the green building industry. We are the small maverick firm that defines the direction of the industry.
Our business model is not based on size or volume, but rather on being the most innovative, and this is the key to our success, both in our relationship to clients and to other businesses. We are more adaptive, more experimental and more progressive than larger companies could ever be.
We attract the early adopter clients who are willing to take risks and do things that have never been done before. These forward thinking clients, like our company, are the choice makers for their friends and families. Because of our popularity with early adopters and choice makers, our client base is very deep. It gives us the luxury of picking and choosing only the jobs that continue our goal of turning NY Green.
We also have a close relationship with larger green building companies. Being a boutique company, we don’t pose a threat to them they come to us for specialty guidance. We fulfill a role by providing information that keeps them abreast of the latest green building trends. They can rely on us to test and implement the newer, riskier techniques.
Some companies guard their secrets closely and implement that advantage with clients to gain market share. Our business model, and our success, is to share our information widely so that we are known as “the go” to company for cutting edge green building. This “open source” model furthers green building for everyone while also benefiting us.
how is your business involved with the community you serve?
Eco Brooklyn is part of a growing trend in social business where the lines between for profit and non-profit are less rigid. As a green building company with a strong ethical mission, we adhere to the triple bottom line where Planet, People and Profit (in that order of importance) are all considered in our business decisions.
It may appear foolish that a for profit business prioritize Planet and People over Profit but in a world of hyper connectivity it is no longer possible to ethically separate the three. The Planet and People directly affect how much profit we make and our personal experience and success shows that if you treat them well they reward you with Profit.
It is important to note that the definition of Profit is also different for us. Our bank balance is part of our profit, along with the value of relationships we build in the community.
This means that a lot of our efforts appear unrelated to making money:
· We do community outreach to educate people on green building.
· We have an extensive internship program that guides people through a three month educational training with both hands on experience and theoretical teaching.
· We have a green show house showcasing the most cutting edge green building techniques that open for tours to anyone interested in green building techniques.
None of these community activities cost anything to the consumer nor do we attempt to sell anything other than the importance of living a green lifestyle. Improving the lives of the community in this way benefits everyone, since it is also the community I and my employees live in.
Tell us about your salvage activities?
As a radical green building company we build almost exclusively with salvaged materials. When we gut renovate a New York town house the end result is LESS garbage in the landfill than when we started. This is a powerful act of ecology considering most construction creates massive amounts of waste.
Unlike a normal building company we don’t simply call Home Depot and make an order of materials the day we need it. We salvage material whenever it becomes available. This requires more planning and a storage place to keep all the material we salvage.
Due to our involvement in the green building community, we get calls on a daily basis from people with salvaged materials they want to give us. Likewise people call us looking for materials. Our position as a salvaged materials B2B re-seller hub is already in place and the only thing holding us back is that we don’t have a space to keep the materials.
Acquiring a larger space is currently one of our activities.
what types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them?
Our challenge is the same challenge every green builder has – working out the logistics so that it is financially viable to salvage materials instead of throwing them out and buying new.
Along with the challenge of changing old and wasteful habits in the industry, it is hard to:
· control the timing of when materials become available
· estimate the amount of labor needed to clean the material
· know how long it will remain in storage until a job needs it
We feel that over the years we have honed this skill to the point where we are ready to do it on a larger scale -Currently we do it for our own Town House and commercial jobs but we would like to expand into offering salvage materials to other companies. There is so much good stuff going to the landfill that we simply can’t use all of it on our jobs.
By doing this we not only will become more successful but we will be offering a crucial service to the economy and ecology.
describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful.
The driving force behind Eco Brooklyn is the owner Gennaro Brooks-Church.
He holds several certificates:
· NY Licensed Real Estate Broker
· Certified EcoBroker
· National Sustainable Advisor Program Graduate
· Passive House Consultant Graduate
· Passive House Tradesperson Graduate
· LEED AP
He is also an educator, lifetime builder and author of the Build It Forward and Zero Building concepts. Having lived in over 35 countries he has a knowledge of how local economies effect global ecologies. Fluent in three languages he easily navigates the many cultures of NY, opening doors and making connections that facilitate Eco Brooklyn’s goal of turning NY green.
Although Eco Brooklyn’s team can sometimes expand to 30 freelance employees, the core Eco Brooklyn team of ten builders have been with the company since the beginning – a tribute to employee happiness and loyalty. Through years of working together they have gained skills and teamwork that only time can create and are a seasoned group of green building veterans.