Keeping PACE with Sustainable Developments in Real Estate: Team Home-A-Loan’s Journey to Winning the 2022 CSB Pitch Competition

Isa Ballard, Rowan Kurtz, TT Venkatraghavan, and Allie Waxman

Winner's of the 2022 Sustainable Business Pitch Competition, sponsored by Eddie Stern, describe their strategy and takeaways from participating in the case competition. Congratulations team Home A-Loan!

Homa A-Loan
After spending the first semester getting acclimated to school, internship recruiting, and demanding core classes, we each found ourselves looking to engage with educational pursuits that stretched our thinking in areas of interest. Our team leader, Allie Waxman, has a knack for identifying people with different talents and bringing them together to make a strong, cohesive team, and she reached out to each of the members to gauge interest in the competition. Identifying finance, climate venture capital, and corporate sustainability skills in each team member was critical to both delineating roles and producing a successful product; Rowan Kurtz, TT Venkatraghavan, and Isa Ballard all brought invaluable and unique skills to the table. We started by identifying key questions and knowledge needs and divided the work according to the skills and interests of each team member. 

We began our proposal by identifying many of Wells Fargo’s previous ESG commitments, including the resources already allocated and corporate structures in place. We then designed our proposal around how PACE could help our bank further its broader sustainability commitments. Our proposal recommended that Wells Fargo enable their clients to utilize the PACE program in order to decrease the bank’s exposure to financial and reputational risk. Moreover, we suggested that the firm become a PACE lender in order to facilitate their clients’ use of the program, thereby benefiting the bank through new lines of business, improved underwriting, and enhanced reputation as an ESG leader. In order to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the PACE program, we recommended that Wells Fargo create a decarbonization finance team to meet with clients and identify possible projects. This would not only create business via PACE lending, but also provide the bank with more points of contact with their clients and the opportunity for cross-selling. Once the program is established in New York, the firm could look to expand it nationally. 

Highlights of our participation in the Sustainable Business Pitch Competition included getting to know peers with similar interests; networking with experts in sustainable finance, policy, and real estate; and conducting in-depth research on a topic that was new to us. One of the most impactful parts of the competition was realizing how many people are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to addressing the climate crisis; meeting both classmates and professionals who share our passion for promoting sustainability in business was inspiring and served to increase our motivation to continue advocating for policies that further these goals. 

View their winning presentation materials here.