Greentrepreneur of the month: The Vivelan Group

Vivelan Group LogoSustainable Investing. Building. Living.

The Vivelan Group strives to create greener, more balanced, and economically viable communities that inspire its residents to live healthily, responsibly, and passionately. CEO Katy Reynolds is our Greentrepreneur for December, and she’s shared how The Vivelan Group has taken sustainable living to new heights.

What are some of your proudest moments as owner of The Vivelan Group?

kathryn-headshotOur proudest moment was achieving our vision and challenging goals with our very first real estate development, an 80,000sf mixed-use residential development in Sacramento, CA ( When The Vivelan Group was founded in 2011, our mission was to prove that developments could be super green at market cost, making it possible for everyone to live sustainably and not just those able and willing to pay a premium to be green. With careful upfront planning, attention to detail, and creative and inspiring leadership, we made our vision a reality. 16 Powerhouse is slated to be the first LEED Platinum mixed-use residential development in the country to be completed and offered at local market cost. We are now working to bring this vision to NOLA.

How does your organization go about improving your social and environmental impacts?

When we founded Vivelan, it is in our charter that all employees and partners must continually strive for greater socially and environmentally responsible lives through reducing waste, recycling, conserving all resources, and giving back to the community. For instance, we have insisted our local law firm no longer snail mail us documents and that they try internally not to waste so much paper, ink and energy printing legal document drafts.

We also spend a lot of time continually researching successful new technologies and sustainable solutions employed around the world seeing what we can adopt within our business and our developments. We have a bi-weekly call with Merrill Lynch in Silicon Valley to stay abreast of the most recent advancements in green and clean technology globally.

What partnerships have you formed in order to leverage sustainable impact as a company?

We have a partnership with View Glass from Silicon Valley who are a new leader in manufacturing dynamic windows that reduce heat and light transfer substantially reducing a building’s energy load and stress on its HVAC system. We helped View work with the NOLA Convention Center where they have already replaced some of the windows and are looking to complete a substantial retrofit over the next few years as well as participate in the Convention Center expansion.

We have also partnered with Ortech Industries from Australia who are the leader in Australia and Asia in airport and convention center construction. Ortech has one of the most energy efficient steel framing systems in the world. Additionally, all of their Durra paneling for walls and roofing are made entirely from organic materials and are rated not only one of the healthiest building materials globally, but also the best acoustically. We are hoping to help Ortech participate in the development of the new airport terminal in New Orleans.

We have also partnered with BioRegional, a non-profit in the UK that created the concept of carbon footprint and the metrics to measure carbon footprint; and they created the One Planet Community brand. We are working with BioRegional to commercialize the One Planet Community brand and services, making it a much more dynamic community and building standard that goes well beyond LEED and Greenbuild’s checklist, promoting zero carbon footprint healthy communities.

If you had a magic wand to change one thing that would make it easier for your company or other New Orleans businesses to go green, what would that thing be?

If I could wave a magic wand that miraculously changed the mindset of everyone in South Louisiana to understand the benefits of conservation and preservation adjusting their behavior accordingly, it would make it much easier for all of us to implement our sustainable and resilient solutions to make New Orleans a safer healthier place. For instance, I grew up in California where I literally learned to recycle at the same time I learned to walk and that was almost 50 years ago. We recycled all our paper, glass, aluminum, (not yet plastic….this was the mid 60s) and we composted for our own urban farm in San Marino (Pasadena). When I moved to NYC 25 years ago, people were not yet recycling there and I worked with civic leaders to implement ways to help people recycle. When I moved to New Orleans this past year, I was flabbergasted that recycling is not mandated, well into the 21st century, and that nowhere in Louisiana can you recycle glass! Every day I watch people throw trash in recycling bins without a care and it drives me crazy. It would be great to get a substantial grant to create powerful TV ads that raised awareness to change people’s behavior. LifeCity and its partners are doing a great job raising awareness and implementing green solutions, but you are reaching a market that already wants to change. We need to reach those who have no idea they need to change.

What advice would you give to other businesses who are trying to improve their internal practices to benefit their city and state?

Make it a game. People are naturally competitive and love to play games. If you make it a contest with fun rewards and recognition, you are likely to get more involvement from your employees.

Anything else you would like to tell our community of Green Card members and Green Businesses such as upcoming events or promotions they should look out for?

Screen-shot-2014-09-12-at-8.33.27-AMVote for Forest Wright for Public Service Commissioner this Saturday December 6th.
People have no idea how important and impactful that role is on our everyday lives; and Forest Wright will have a positive impact on the sustainability of our future.