Patagonia is expanding its brand as an environmental steward with a new fund to help install solar panels on 1,500 residential homes in eight states.
The company known for producing outdoor clothes and gear tied to the welfare of the planet is joining with four other companies on a $35 million tax equity fund fund to pay for the installations, according to the New York Times.
Patagonia is working with Kina’ole Capital Partners, a solar finance company, that it had worked with two years ago on a separate fund that Patagonia created, $20 Million and Change. Through that effort Patagonia and Kina’ole created a $27 million fund that they used to install 1,000 solar panels on homes in Hawaii.
Patagonia launched the $20 Million and Change fund in 2013 with the goal of investing about $500,000 to $5 million in startups focused on sustainability in the clothing, food, water, energy and waste industries, according to a Fast Company article.
Rose Marcario, president and CEO of Patagonia, described different ways in which the $20 million and Change fund could work.
“We could nurture other businesses by helping them through our distribution, through telling their story,” Marcario told Fast Company. “There are many ways that we could invest. We could invest as a minority, a majority, a joint venture, and we can co-invest.”
One company is Beyond Surface Technology, a Swiss company founded in 2008 by scientists and marketing experts with more than 40 years experience in the traditional textile industry, according to Patagonia’s website. They joined in forming the new company to “make textile treatments based on natural raw material – without sacrificing performance or reducing the lifespan of our product,” Patagonia notes on its site. Patagonia announced its investment in Beyond Surface Technology April 2015.
Patagonia notes that it has received interest from more than 600 companies and had as of last April invested in 10 companies. Those investments include California Safe Soil, which is creating organic fertilizer from unsold produce, and Bureo Skateboards, which is recycling derelict fishing gear to produce skateboards and to keep the oceans free from dangerous plastics.
Other investments Patagonia made in its $20 Million & Change fund include:
- NuMat Technologies, a materials technology company developing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), a new kind of nanoporous material that can change how the world stores, transports, and separates gases.
- Wild Idea Buffalo, a provider of grass-fed, naturally-raised buffalo in the United States.
- Yerdle, a “stuff-sharing” app.
With the new $35 million fund, Patagonia is working again with Kina’ole. They also are working with New Resource Bank, Beneficial State Bank and Sungevity.
“I hope that other companies that are interested in having a positive impact will look at this as a model,” Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s chief executive, told the New York Times.