Inspire Space gains tenant

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North Lennox, founder and CEO of Greenbanc, works in his open-concept office at GMP's Inspire Space. (Photo by Tom Marble)

North Lennox, founder and CEO of Greenbanc, works in his open-concept office at GMP’s Inspire Space. (Photo by Tom Marble)

Nearly a year and a half after moving his business from New York to Vermont, North Lennox succeeded in elevating his company to the pinnacle of Vermont business standards.

In late November, Greenbanc, whose mission is to help homeowners invest in energy efficiency, became a certified B Corporation.

“It’s a rigorous test,” Lennox said.

To become certified, businesses are evaluated on a broad scope of issues including social and environmental impact, public transparency and legal accountability, according to the B Corporation website.

The examination is conducted by a nonprofit organization called B Lab, which aims to connect companies across the world that adhere to the same rigid standards.

Greenbanc began the application process in July.

“I had a phone call with a B Corps representative who asked some very pointed questions and wanted to see evidence to really dial down on all aspects of the business,” Lennox said.

Shortly after that call, Lennox realized he would have to make some changes, including one that involved Greenbanc’s financial arrangement. They had to switch banking to VSECU, a local credit union.

Lucky for Lennox, he didn’t have to go it alone.

After being selected as one of five winners in a contest put on last year by Colchester-based Green Mountain Power, the first utility company in the world to become a certified B Corp, Lennox was invited to relocate Greenbanc to a designated spot in the GMP building.

Dubbed Inspire Space, the open-concept, comfortably furnished work area was designed by GMP to be a rich and supportive environment for new energy-related businesses to grow.

Through the contest, Lennox was granted a one-year lease.

“Helping our community by helping energy start-ups be successful in Vermont is one way we live our B Corp commitment,” said Mary Powell, CEO of GMP, in a press release.

The contest also aimed to attract viable companies from other parts of the country.

“We got word out about it in a bunch of energy publications,” GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said. “The goal was to reach some out-of-state energy entrepreneurs, which is beneficial to Vermont and it’s beneficial to our customers.”

With the help of Inspire Space, Lennox had the opportunity to build off some of the groundwork already built by GMP when it became B Corps-certified in 2014.

“The buildings that GMP owns tend to be very efficient with renewable energy,” Lennox said. “We have the solar. There’s composting in the kitchen, and they use recycled materials in the office.”

With the certification under his belt, Lennox plans to continue building and connecting with his client base. The company is now concentrated on providing home energy scores for its customers.

Using software created by the U.S. Department of Energy, Lennox compiles a series of 40 data points, which allows the program to pinpoint energy deficiencies and score the home relative to others across the country.

“You get a much more concise and specific recommendation where you can save money. So it becomes a much cleaner financial decision for a homeowner,” Lennox said.

Although the average energy audit conducted by a contractor normally takes around four hours, a home energy score can be determined in about an hour onsite.

“We’re going to try to do 1,000 [home energy scores] next year. That’s our goal for 2017,” Lennox said.

After the scoring is complete, Greenbanc can then match homeowners with qualified contractors to work on energy-efficient solutions via an online platform called Greenjobs.

Greenbanc’s easily maneuverable website, Lennox said, will help streamline this process.

“This is what we envisioned,” Schnure said. “This is just one more way we can help our customers move toward cleaner, more affordable energy.”