Ann and Clair have been working with Ecology Building Society to raise the profile of Paul Ellis who is celebrating 25 years at the building society.
Paul is celebrating a quarter of a century at Ecology Building Society, with 22 years as Chief Executive. Ann interviewed Paul and wrote a feature which appeared in IFA Magazine
The ethical finance pioneer has proven that values based and purpose-driven finance works, with over 30 years of uninterrupted profitability. Paul has overseen an increase in assets of more than £150m (more than 900%) since his appointment.
Ecology’s mission is to build a greener society, providing mortgages for properties that support sustainable communities and respect the environment. It supports eco renovations, refurbishment and eco new builds, as well as community-led housing.
“We are really contributing to building the blocks, or pointing the way to a new economy,” Paul said. “We’ve proved the sustainability of our model that pursues values.”
Under Paul’s leadership, Ecology has widened its remit from residential-only mortgages, to lending for a wide range of commercial and community-led housing projects. Last year, Silsden based Ecology lent over £30m for sustainable properties and projects.
Born in Hull, Paul’s father served in the Forces. The family lived all over the world including Belgium, Germany and Malaysia, giving him an ‘internationalist outlook’.
“I very quickly gained a feeling we needed to protect our natural environment. I then allied that into an interest in social justice. Without social justice you can’t protect our natural environment, and we need to protect it for all our sakes, and future generations. Everything I do is driven by that.”
Paul studied European integration at the London School of Economics (LSE). He then met Jean Lambert, a founder of the Ecology Building Society, and a member of the Ecology Party who is now a Green MEP.
Ecology supports small-scale and community developments in a UK market that Paul says is ‘controlled by a handful of large developers, which means affordability is a permanent problem.’
Paul said: “I got the idea straight away of people using their own personal capital to build the economy that they wanted. I was a big supporter of the idea.”
Paul began working at Ecology 25 years ago. With a flair for IT and coding, he worked on its computer systems as a hobby, which turned into a full-time job. In just three years he went to the top position of CEO.
“It’s about addressing imbalances in the housing market,” Paul said. “We need a massive national retrofit and renovation programme to get things up to scratch if we are to have any chance of meeting our climate change commitments.”
Ecology is the first building society in the UK to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark, an accreditation that celebrates the issue of responsible tax. It holds the Green accreditation mark under the Investors in the Environment scheme – the highest level of accreditation possible. It was selected as an ethical ‘Best Buy’ for its mortgages and savings accounts by the Ethical Consumer magazine.
About Ecology Building Society
- Ecology Building Society is dedicated to improving the environment by supporting and promoting ecological building practices and sustainable communities. Our mission is to build a greener society through the provision of sustainable mortgages with environmental and social impact criteria and, ethical savings accounts that offer long-term value. For more information about Ecology’s approach, visit co.uk/about-us/ .
- Ecology Building Society specialises in mortgages for ecological building projects and sustainable communities, and reported a record £173.1m of assets in its latest annual report (31 December 2016).
- Ecology’s Annual Review 2016 can be downloaded from co.uk/pdf/about/Ecology-Annual-Review-2016.pdf.
- For further details on the types of residential projects and properties Ecology Building Society lends on, visit www.ecology.co.uk
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