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A Green-Jobs Move from Pure Capitalism to Natural Capitalism

"Green-jobs move from pure capitalism to natural capitalism(By Paula
Hendricks via GreenBiz)[Editor's Note: Paula Hendricks is filing a regular series of reports about
green jobs: what they are, how to get them, and who has them already. Here,
she profiles Chris D'Avignon, a serial entrepreneur whose journey took him
from pure capitalism to natural capitalism, and whose green job will help
create more new green jobs in the process.]After semi-retiring in 2003, Chris D'Avignon took a year off and rode his
motorcycle around the West where he ""saw steam generating plants in Wyoming
-- in the middle of nowhere; windmills as far as the eye could see; solar
fields. I saw it all first hand. I saw our future.""Back home in San Diego, D'Avignon got involved in real estate investing --
buying buildings, fixing them up and leasing them out. He became
knowledgeable about energy conservation. Whether it was for heating or
cooling, or using lights like LEDs, or meeting LEED criteria -- it simply
became smart business to go green. For him, total cost of ownership
mattered because he owned and managed the buildings as well as fixed them
up.He can get 10-15 percent more rent if the buildings are either LEED
certified or be substantiated as being green. He can get rebates, and
accelerated write-offs. By setting up PPAs (Private Power Agreements) with
his tenants, he will become an energy distributor and possibly an energy
generator. He can save money and make money at the same time.During this same period, he began to feel a personal obligation to the
environment. ""I realized that as boomers we made this mess ... and we need
to clean it up,"" D'Avignon told me. ""I realized green was not going away;
it's not a phase. I went from 'this is bullshit' to 'this is substantial'
-- I saw the writing on the wall.""It's about business, but about more than that, too. I've moved from pure
capitalism to natural capitalism -- yes, Paul Hawken's book,"" he explained.
""It's small steps toward a sustainable economy and making money and
creating jobs.""Because D'Avignon is a successful serial entrepreneur -- he co-founded
HiTek, a power electronics company, in 1992 -- he is interested in the
numbers and the markets. By 2008 he was wondering how he could apply what
he knows about electricity and power to this new green economy. He began
looking for gaps in the market.In February 2008, he went to Electric West, a conference for electrical
contactors, in Las Vegas with these questions: Where are the opportunities
now? Is it in manufacturing? How can I raise money? What is missing from
this market? By using his engineering and sales talents, what could he do
that would pay out in 10 years?What he discovered was the end user doesn't have a clear handle on what all
this green is and how to integrate it into their lives. It's hard to get
good information, especially if you are an individual or a small business.When solar salesmen came to his house, D'Avignon realized they didn't
understand the systems they were selling and what different systems could
deliver. He learned that the panels matter, the inverters matter, the
control systems matter. They all contribute to performance and yet he, even
with all his knowledge, wasn't getting the information he needed to make a
sound decision.Individuals and small business owners need a place to see and touch and ask
questions -- about wind turbines, and solar panels -- and to learn what
photons are and why they matter. They need a place to come and to find out
what all this means for their house or their business. He could provide
that place; he could filter the resources and offer education, products and
services.By May 2008, D'Avignon had his first store designed and his company, Terra
Steward, was on its way. They incorporated in February 2009.D'Avignon is now working closely with an SBA lender to secure the money to
renovate a 33-year-old racquetball court for the first store. While "