The West Adams Edition FAQS
thirdACT PBC was founded by Diane Schrader in 2015. We've since built a team with extensive experience in real estate, alternative finance, energy efficiency, and clean energy technologies, and project management at-scale. Over five years of intensive R&D have gone into our process. We have gained vital market insights and fostered relationships with foundations, donors, DAF sponsors, manufacturers, corporations, policymakers, utilities, academia, and non-profits.
thirdACT has always believed financial companies can be a force for good. We recognize this responsibility and are proud to be a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). PBCs harnesses the power of private enterprise for the public good. In the short term, PBCs improve the quality of life in our communities. In the long term, PBCs generate durable impact and attractive returns for investors. Our Public Benefit Statement is that "We drive resiliency in communities through better buildings."
What problem are you solving?
We have created a way to finance the average American neighborhood's transition to net-zero energy. We are starting with underserved communities, as they will benefit the most from this transition.
What is the legal structure of the West Adams Edition?
The West Adams Edition is operated by the thirdACT Impact Public Benefit LLC. Similar to the Public Benefit Corporation, a PBLLC is a for-profit LLC that is intended to produce a public benefit and operate in a manner that balances the financial interests and the specific public benefit(s) set forth in the PBLLC's certificate of formation. We use this entity as the container for thirdACT's impact initiatives, whereby thirdACT PBC acts as a General Partner and Advisor.
Recoverable Grants for the West Adams Edition are made to the thirdACT Impact PBLLC, who will then use the proceeds to engage property owners, procure property improvements, then measure and report on progress. When properties in the West Adams Edition sell, a portion of the sale proceeds will be sent to thirdACT Impact PBLLC, who will then direct the net distributions to the Recoverable Grant Providers on a pro-rata basis.
What is the mission of the thirdACT Impact Public Benefit LLC?
To drive resiliency in communities by facilitating improvements of properties and structures, including energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, code compliance, affordable housing, and reduced cost of living.
What are the uses of proceeds that go to the West Adams Edition?
We estimate that 92% of proceeds will be paid directly to contractors who successfully complete the installations of the net-zero improvements. We estimate the remaining 8% will go to thirdACT Impact PBLLC to cover community engagement, origination, and project management costs.
Are there any fees?
thirdACT PBLLC will retain a fee of 15% of the gross receivables from West Adams Edition property sale payments. There are no other fees.
When do you start?
We've already started. Here's a complete timeline of our goals.
How will you measure the impact of the West Adams Edition?
Our success is easily measured. Did we get the home to net-zero energy? In doing so, we hit three areas of impact: economic, social, and environmental.
Economic: Our primary impact goal is economic. Net-zero means energy costs are zero. To measure this, we start with 12 months of utility data to create a baseline of energy costs prior to the improvements. We continue collecting utility data for three years following. We expect the improvements will provide an immediate impact on energy costs, yet continued data collection allows for the seasonality of any single year.
Social: Periodically over the term, we'll use a variety of engagement methods (conversations, surveys, questionnaires) to gauge shifts in mindset and expectations, to gather more household information, such as income and savings, and specific household demographics, such as occupation and ethnicity. We will report on data and insights from these interactions and how they change over time.
Environmental: Environmental impacts are not our primary goal, yet they're not to be overlooked. Utility bills will provide an exact measure of the energy produced and energy consumed. We can estimate carbon emissions savings with resources such as Google's Project Sunroof. For the average installation with a $250 monthly bill, the solar alone will reduce 4.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. You can imagine the impact of 100 homes for 20 years.
And let's not forget that one of the most important impacts of the West Adams Edition is that it creates a model that can be replicated in other communities. The West Adams Edition is so important.
How will you report on the impact of the West Adams Edition?
Annual reports will be provided to the Recoverable Grant Providers in Q1 every year. It will include a narrative of the use of the Grant proceeds for the Grant Purpose, a Grant compliance statement, and thirdACT Impact PBLLC's financial accounting of expenditures of grant proceeds, receivables, and distributions. The final report will be issued within 90 days of the end of the term.
In addition, I'm excited to share that we are opening up the West Adams Edition to universities, impact investment organizations, corporate partners, and non-profits for research and education. Our first such project began mid-October at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. It is in conjunction with the Missions Investors Exchange. Students will be testing and developing best practices, tools, and methods for surveying the West Adams community, considering physical limitations during the pandemic. This work is fundamental and will not only affect the West Adams Edition. It can also inform other impact initiatives as well.
I look forward to announcing new partnerships in the coming weeks.
What United Nations Sustainable Development Goals does this initiative support?
End Poverty 1.5 We support fair and affordable housing, eliminating the cost of energy, enabling households to build wealth, and support the local economy.
Clean Energy 7.1 We provide net-zero homes, and in some cases, might produce more energy than is consumed on-premise, driving grid resiliency.
Sustainable Development 11.1 We support durable housing, exceeding building codes, to provide in low-income communities with modern amenities that are built to last.
Climate Action 13.1 We drive resiliency in communities through better buildings. This includes resilience from heat stress, one of the pressing issues for Los Angeles.
Why aren't property owners doing this on their own?
Low-interest rate loans have been around for a long time. If debt were the answer, it would have worked by now. If one could get a 3% loan for $100,000 to finance the net-zero energy improvements, taking into consideration the reduction in energy costs, the loan would still add $150 per month to the homeowner for 30 years. Adding more debt to these households, even if it is at a lower rate, doesn't pencil out.
Not all homeowners have the expertise to do this and they don't want to hire a general contractor either. General contractors tend to charge a 20-40% profit margin on top of all the installation costs. That adds a significant load to the overall budget, too much for most homeowners.
This financing is kind of like a loan, but not really. What is this?
It's simply a Transfer Covenant that is recorded on the title of a property such that the sale of that property triggers a payment to a third party.
How does this work?
We leverage the standard property sale escrow process. When a property sells, the title officer settling the sale reads all the documents recorded on the property's title. They will use the sale proceeds from escrow to pay any taxes, then any mortgage holders, and then the thirdACT Impact PB LLC. The property owner receives the remaining sale proceeds.
What happens if a property doesn't sell?
If someone has been in their home for 20 years after participating in the West Adams Edition, they're likely at or near retirement. The best thing we can do to support their economic future is to forgive the financing. All the agreements expire at the end of year 20. This means that for any homeowners who have not sold, the financing turns into a grant, and the homeowners own the improvements free and clear.
Will the sale proceeds be reinvested?
No. We distribute the net sale proceeds to beneficiaries on a quarterly basis.
Do you use leverage?
No, we do not.
What do you do with utility rebates?
Nothing. In most cases of energy efficiency upgrades, owners are paid for these improvements. For a typical West Adams Edition home, we expect the owner to receive a cash rebate from LADWP for $3500. What a game-changer - getting paid to go net-zero!
How much does it cost to get these homes to net-zero?
We estimate that it will cost roughly $80,000 to $100,000 per project. There's a spread because there are some unknowns we are planning for. Most of these homes were built in the 1920s and will have different improvements. Here's an example of a typical budget:
Energy production and storage
Cool Roof Shingles
Controls (thermostat, lighting)
Future of transportation
Total Project Cost
How do you avoid costs from going over budget?
We surveyed contractors on this. They were almost offended that we asked. That’s because when they bid on a project, they’re contractually obligated to complete the work within the scope of that bid. It might mean that some projects make them more money than others, but at the end of the day, this is their profession, and they are the experts. At the end of the day, every improvement is a point solution. While there are dependencies, each contractor can work independently. That reduces unforeseen forces that can impact a project.
Your management fee is really low. How do you do that?
In addition to recoverable grants, we cover some of our costs with corporate sponsorships and at cost or pro-bono services. This ensures that we can maximize the value of grant dollars and allow for a broader range of stakeholders to participate. For instance, Frog Design is dipping into its at-cost and pro-bono bucket to help design the community engagement brand strategy. (Yes, this means thirdact.com is going to get a whole lot better!)
What happens if you have money left over?
At our discretion, we will explore any additional resiliency technologies that can be added to the project, such as interior air quality sensors, air purifiers, and plug load management systems. Other considerations include recycling and compost systems and rainwater catchment. Any unused proceeds will be returned to the Recoverable Grant Providers.
How do you choose the contractors?
Our main source of contractors is referrals by manufacturers and distributors. These parties provide their preferred contractors because these contractors know how to provide superior installation, measured by customer satisfaction and minimal warranty issues.
What is TABBSS?
In 2016, we created a program called TABBSS, a registered trademark for thirdACT Better Building and Sustainability Standards. This invite-only program was developed to certify contractors who perform property improvements in conjunction with thirdACT financing. All contractors must be a member to be assigned projects. To become a member, they are screened for their insurance, licenses, and qualifications.
All completed projects are assigned a unique TABBSS certification number. Property owners can share this number (with insurance companies, banks, appraisers, future buyers, etc) to verify the improvements.
How much time does it take to complete 100 projects?
We allow 9-12 months for each project from inception. This allows flexibility in consideration of the sequencing and scheduling of contractors, not just the amount of installation time.
How will you know if you're hitting net-zero targets?
As mentioned above, the owner's consent to share 12 months of utility data prior to the installation of the improvements. We will go on to collect utility data for three years following the installations. While we expect to see the impact of these improvements immediately, collecting this data over time will allow us to capture seasonality.
We also intend to share anonymized data with third parties to validate our conclusions. Our hope is that this will allow us to be more prescriptive in the future. For instance, we might find that a cool roof, insulation, and new windows reduce interior temperatures so much that the amount of air conditioning could be cut back. In the future, we would then adjust the AC strategy for like homes in like climate zones.
There's so much to learn from West Adams.
Can the contractors work during COVID-19?
Yes. Since the early days of the pandemic, the state and local authorities deemed contractor work essential. Each contractor is expected to adhere to the industry-wide strict safety protocols to ensure the safety of its team and the household occupants.
What if the property owner has bad credit?
Our financing is attached to the property, not the owner, so there's no need for credit reports. The West Adams Edition financing can significantly benefit a person who is building good credit. As energy costs are reduced, capital can be redirected to cover expenses that can boost a credit score.
What are the property values for West Adams?
Please see below. West Adams has seen tremendous appreciation. Much is likely due to the fact that West Adams was behind adjacent neighborhoods. Its proximity between the beach and downtown means that it's likely to be a desirable location for years to come. Keep in mind that property values rarely go in a straight line.
Do you offer liquidity?
No. The West Adams Edition is not offered as a security.
Who is the West Adams Edition designed for?
The West Adams Edition is designed for philanthropic capital that looks beyond traditional grants to impact communities. It is designed for:
DAF Sponsors who actively direct impact investments
DAF Sponsors who only make grants
Wealth advisors and legacy planners
Family, private, corporate, and community foundations
My DAF/foundation allows me to direct grants, but not recoverable grants. How do I participate?
If this is the case, it's likely this entity does not have the resources to diligence investment opportunities. That's OK. Our DAF partner, ImpactAssets, has been implementing flexible and innovative impact investments for the past decade and now serves over $1 billion in assets. The transfer from one DAF/foundation to another is quite common. You can ask your DAF/foundation to direct a grant to ImpactAssets. They, in turn, will direct the allocation to the West Adams Edition.
Just let us know and we'll help you with the process.
I'm ready to move forward now. What should I do?
Thank you. I'm so excited that you're joining us. Please fill out the information below. We will work with you or your DAF/foundation to execute the recoverable grant agreement.