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REIA 99 Owen Barrett: The Ultimate Impact Investment!

Owen Barrett has been on the cutting edge of the sustainability movement for the last decade. He’s installed megawatts of solar and storage and consulted Fortune 100 companies on energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies. Collectively, he’s managed and/or installed over $250 million worth of clean technology projects and developments.

Main Points:

  • 20%+ internal rates of return with MASSIVE environmental impact
  • Only multifamily sponsors to incorporate solar
  • Long-term holds positively affect tenants
  • 100% cash-out refi around Year 3

Connect with Owen:

Listen to the podcast here or on your favorite podcast app:

Watch the Episode here:

Biography of Owen Barrett:

Owen graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Finance and Economics from Bentley University. He started his professional career in the financial world. Owen evaluated companies based on unique facts and circumstances, including performance, size, maturity, governance structure, and advised institutional shareholders on ballot measures and made recommendations that served their best interests.

Despite excelling in proxy research, Owen wanted to use his quantitative prowess to do well by doing good. He attended the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara and received a MS in Environmental Science and Management. While at Bren, Owen started a 501(c)(3) organization called SustainaBall Change. Having played soccer in college, and being an avid Gaucho fan, Owen wondered what happened to soccer balls once they reached end-of-life for elite collegiate programs (despite only being one season old). It turns out, they’re sent to the landfill.

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport. And while the barrier to entry is low is the US (buying a $15 soccer ball, it’s not as easy overseas. The mission of SustainaBall was to support NPOs using soccer as education platforms (for AIDS prevention, community development, etc.) by donating high-quality soccer equipment to them. In two years, Owen donated thousands of recycled, collegiate soccer balls to Haiti and Kenya. It was an early taste of entrepreneurial success.

Upon graduation from the Bren School, Owen was hired as the Global Energy Manager for Life Technologies (later acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific). As the Energy Manager, Owen was responsible for managing a $25 million energy budget across 27 sites in 12 countries. In four years, Owen gained experience deploying every cost-effective clean technology – fuel cells, solar PV, LED lighting, battery storage, HVAC optimization. Over the same time period, he successfully deployed $40 million of clean technology projects that save _____ GWH annually.

Four years in the private sector was enough for Owen to realize he wanted to apply his energy management expertise to the public sector, specifically K-12 schools. Every dollar that schools save in energy are redirected toward books and computers. In 2015, Owen started lumeo, a niche energy services company focused on helping small school districts in California save money by saving energy. In 18 months, lumeo was working with 40 school districts across California and generating $12 million in revenue. In 2018, Owen sold lumeo to his partners.

With no job and a pile of cash, Owen remembered reading Rich Dad Poor Dad while in college. He decided real estate investing would be his next venture. After quickly identifying multifamily syndication as the mechanism for the highest risk-adjusted returns, Owen started investing passively as a limited partner. After reviewing a few pro formas, it became abundantly clear that most multifamily sponsors and operators are clueless about energy management. Owen immediately recognized an opportunity to combine energy management with multifamily acquisitions, and ZNE Capital was born.

From 2018 – 2020, Owen researched the best markets for his new business model and assembled a team with unprecedented experience in multifamily real estate and clean technology. Today, ZNE Capital is the epitome of impact investing. ZNE Capital delivers strong financial returns while making a significant impact on climate change and preserving naturally occurring affordable housing.

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