Our Environmental Work

Caring for the Environment is in Our Nature

Our environmental work is integrally linked to our concern for people who have been left out of the financial mainstream. Low-income people are more likely to live in the least energy-efficient homes, attend schools with the worst indoor air quality, and live in areas that are subject to pollution and poor water quality.

Self-Help counters this dynamic by embracing the Triple Bottom Line model, which promotes:

  1. Equity by delivering positive impact that benefits low-income people and communities;
  2. Economic development by providing loans that help entrepreneurs start and expand businesses and provide better jobs; and
  3. Environmental returns by providing loans for a broad variety of purposes, including energy efficiency, healthier buildings, clean energy, sustainable food production, ecotourism and preservation of natural areas

Our goal is to make sustainability part of what we do every day, and it's one we take seriously. Read more in Green Money Journal, our story of going greener with commitment, moxie and alliances with innovative partners. 

Our Green Work in Action

Financing Renewable Energy

Solar energy and other renewable energy businesses have a double impact: they help create sustainable alternatives to fossil-fueled energy, and they help build economies and provide jobs, especially in rural areas. Self-Help has lent more than $76 million to solar energy installations across North Carolina. These projects created more than 2,250 construction jobs in the clean-energy sector, and will contribute more than 147 megawatts of clean power to the electricity grid--enough to power 14,000 homes in NC.


Self-Help loan officer Rebecca Rogers visits a solar farm run by borrower FLS Solar.

Creating Jobs with Green Loans

Since 1980, we’ve lent over $100 million to green businesses – including recycling businesses like Reflective Recycling of Wilson, NC. Reflective specializes in cullet, a material made from discarded glass that can be turned into new glass inexpensively and with reduced carbon impact. Thanks to a financing package that included a $5 million loan from Self-Help, Reflective expanded into a new facility in 2012. Since then, they’ve created 58 new jobs in Wilson County, a county struggling with 13% unemployment.

Reflective RecyclingSpecialized equipment for recycling glass cullet at Self-Help borrower Reflective Recycling's new facility.

Finding New Life in Historic Buildings

Whether we are financing real estate projects or developing our own properties, we build green. In 2012, we completed a $10 million renovation of a vacant, century-old building into a new home for Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham, NC. The makeover employed cutting-edge green technology. The result: a beautiful, energy-efficient space that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves indoor air quality for students and teachers, and lowers the school’s energy bills by 30%.

Maureen Joy ribbon cutting

Maureen Joy students do the honors at the ribbon-cutting for the school's energy-efficient new home in East Durham. Learn about the school's renovation in this presentation.

Visualizing Our Impact

Learn about Self-Help's Green Impact through these infographics. Click each image to see the full infographic.

Self-Help has invested over $350 million in green loans.

Self-Help is doing its part to combat climate change.

Be a Part of Our Work