At 29, Leah Neigum feels a personal responsibility to take action on climate change. She understands that her generation is the one tasked with the enormous challenge of reducing emissions and building a more sustainable world.

“In 2050 I guess I’ll be almost 60,” she says, referring to the deadline the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has set to reach net-zero CO2 emissions.

“What would I say to young people at this age if they said, ‘You knew the science behind climate change and what was going to happen. Why didn’t you do something?’ ”

 


“In 2050 I guess I’ll be almost 60. What would I say to young people at this age if they said, ‘You knew what was going to happen. Why didn’t you do something?’"


 

For Leah, technology and innovative thinking are essential to making change and she feels relieved to live in a time and place where both have empowered her to do something. A couple of things, actually.

She built herself a tiny solar-powered house. Then she used some of the savings to invest in CoPower Green Bonds, helping to finance more clean energy projects for homes elsewhere across Canada.

Residential homes accounted for 13.4 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, according to Natural Resources Canada, and we spent $31.2 billion on household energy needs, mostly on heating.

An easy way to reduce both emissions and utility bills is to simply shrink our living space —  the average Canadian home expanded 17 percent since 1990 and now stands around 1540 square feet, although new builds easily run to 2500 square feet. Tiny houses, in contrast, measure just 100-400 square feet and are quickly becoming a desirable alternative from both a financial and environmental standpoint.

 


CoPower Green Bond investor Leah Neigum inside her tiny house kitchen.

Leah’s tiny house means that she’s not filling her space with waste. She’s reduced her water use, her carbon footprint, and her monthly bills, allowing her more money and time in her life to focus on the things that matter to her.

“I don’t know a lot about economics or the real estate market, but from the little bit that I do know, I believe the days are over when someone can assume they’ll make money off of a real estate investment like the baby boomers did,” she says, “or that buying a big house that uses lots of energy should be the norm.”

Shocked at urban housing prices in Alberta, and inspired by advancements in solar power and the falling price of panels, she decided to take matters into her own hands — literally.

 


No matter that she had very little building experience — she had determination, creativity, the help and support of friends and family, and YouTube.


 


Adding a roof to her tiny house.

She began by reading books, frequenting hardware stores, and drafting her own blueprints on a publicly available 3D modelling program. Next, she hunted down the perfect piece of land to rent, just 15 minutes out of the city. 

Once she got that sorted, she picked up a hammer and nails and started building.

No matter that she had very little building experience — she had determination, creativity, the help and support of friends and family, and YouTube.

For about a year, she would come home every day from her full-time job working in the area of water resources and spend hours building her first home as a self-taught tradeswoman. She learned the ins and outs of running a saw, roofing, framing, plumbing, tiling etc, and she’s proud to say she still has all her fingers!

Finally, her off-grid tiny house—measuring just 20 feet long by 8 and a half feet wide was completed and paid for in cash.

And without the monthly financial obligations that homeowners typically have—e.g. a mortgage, maintenance costs, gas, hydro or electrical bills—Leah found herself in the odd situation of actually having money left over at the end of every month.

 


"It's kind of cool that the money I’ve saved from investing in my own solar system for my tiny house and not having utility bills has enabled me to make other financial investments."


  

She started researching do-it-yourself investments and signed up for a Questrade account, buying a few exchange-traded funds.  Then a friend told her about CoPower.

“I was like, this is even a better idea,” she says.  “I knew green energy investing was a thing, but I thought it was something that was available to larger investment companies, or people who had been investing their whole lives and had a lot of knowledge and money,” she says. “I didn’t know it was attainable for someone like me.”

Excited that she could easily add CoPower bonds to her already existing TFSA account at Questrade, she did just that, choosing CoPower’s 6-Year, 5% Green Bond this January.

 


“And it’s really cool to think that now, with my Green Bonds, my money is going to make solar projects more attainable for other people.” 


  

The bonds complimented the exchange-traded-funds she already invested in because it provided a fixed rate, and added both asset class and industry sector diversification to her portfolio.

“It's kind of cool that the money I’ve saved from investing in my own solar system for my tiny house and not having utility bills has enabled me to make other financial investments,” she says. “ And it’s really cool to think that now, with my Green Bonds, my money is going to make solar projects more attainable for other people.”

 

 

Meet CoPower's Green Bonds, 6-year, 5% interest annually.

 

Editor's note: Leah invested in CoPower's third issuance of Green Bonds (Green Bond III) which is now available. This blog was solicited by CoPower and may not be representative of the views of other investors or potential investors in CoPower Green Bonds. Please consult the Offering Memorandum of CoPower Finance Inc. dated May 11, 2018 for all material information in respect of CoPower Finance Inc., the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds and the terms of the offering of the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds.