Engaging the Green Crowd to invest in energy efficiency

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Green Crowdfunding PlatformIn 2012, bettervest.de was born out of the Start-Up-Weekend Rhein-Main in Germany. Since then the team has worked hard to become a fully operating Green Crowdfunding platform focusing on energy efficiency projects. The have just launched their largest project so far funding the installation of a combined heat and power plant with an expected yearly return of 8% for the green crowd. Let’s get to know them a bit better.

Why did you start bettervest.de?

Energy efficiency is where the biggest, cheapest and most unexplored capacity for resource conservation lies. This is a huge driver for the energy transition, as instead of switching to different energy sources there is a much simpler way to save resources and cut costs: increasing efficiency.
In Germany alone, there is a capacity for energy efficiency of at least 20 billion Euros a year. This could not only decrease expenditures but most importantly lower carbon emissions and overall energy consumption. Moreover, the crowdfunding model empowers citizens and enables them to invest in and directly profit from a greener tomorrow and a thriving local economy.

We feel obligated to engage citizens in the energy transition and pave the way to a better future by creating awareness for the huge saving potentials and slowly transforming “business as usual” form the bottom up.

What kind of initiatives do you support in crowdfunding?

At the moment, we support energy-efficiency initiatives as these are the most cost-effective and high positive outcomes can be observed almost immediately. Our newest project is a combined heat and power plant that is to be installed in a settlement and bears energy- and cost-saving capacities, as well as a source of income and independency from energy providers.

Our network incorporates a wide variety of sustainability initiatives and organisations such as a bonus-system platform rewarding sustainable behaviour, clean energy providers, and environmental and conservation organisations, presenting a high potentail for fruitful cooperations.

Which funded projects are you most proud of and why?

We are proud to have been accepted into the Social Impact Lab in Frankfurt, which we adopted as one of our projects shortly after we moved in. The project was fully funded in only six hours. Being recognized as a social entrepreneur and supported as such is a great honour for us and motivates us to keep on going as we are. Being able to transform our own office and the rest of the co-working spaces for social entrepeneurs into a space with a positive environmental impact as well as a social one, was very fulfilling.

How does your business model work?

We offer businesses the opportunity to source funding for the sustainable modification of their facilities from a large group of small investors (the crowd). The crowd is then paid back a part of their investment annually plus a fixed interest which is paid from the cost savings achieved through the efficiency measures taken. This gives businesses the opportunity to a) invest into their facilities without using their own capital and b) profit from the marketing effect generated over our crowd and platform. By addressing small to medium sized businesses we support the middle class and enable them to grow sustainably.

What is your vision on the future of green crowdfunding?

We envision green crowdfunding to become a norm and be transferred into our everyday lives, motivating people to invest in their environment and community and propagating the idea of creating a big impact by taking small measures together.

We want to be the tool enabling citizens to contribute their part to the protection of our climate and conservation of our world. As the head of the climate-effects research institute in Potsdam Joachim Schellnhuber notes: “the preservation of a stable global climate would cost every individual just around 100 Euros a year.” We motivate people to do so by providing profitability as well as moral satisfaction.