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A green, thriving Colorado, and the story of Namasté Solar

Dollars deposited at Amalgamated are directly lent out to impact businesses that take corporate social responsibility seriously.  Amalgamated’s impact lending strategy is steeped in our values to build a more just and sustainable world.  The clients we serve are values-aligned organizations that we’re proud to do business with and support their efforts to make the world a better place. 

Today, we’d like to share the story of Namasté Solar, one of our solar lending clients focused on bringing clean energy to Colorado. 

Colorado is home to some of the most astounding natural landscapes in America. From the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the famous Red Rocks, to valleys of rivers, parks, lakes, and famous hot springs: in Colorado, nature thrives in all elements and altitudes.  

With surroundings like these, the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change is top of mind. The growing population and urban density in major cities such as Denver and Boulder have required statewide efforts to limit an expanding carbon footprint by looking for cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy. 

Namasté Solar, one of the only born and raised Colorado solar companies, was founded to support the local shift to clean renewable energy. The company has a threefold mission of propagating the responsible use of renewable energy, pioneering conscientious business practices, and creating holistic wealth for the business and their community.  

With 16 years of experience behind them, Namasté Solar is a 100% employee-owned cooperative that prioritizes transparent business practices, sustainability, social equity, and collective community engagement.  

As a certified B Corporation, Namasté Solar recognized the need for a values-aligned financial partner. Amalgamated is the largest B Corp in the US, so the kinship between our two companies helped reinforce the alignment.   

“We believed that this alignment was a critical factor in growing our partnership beyond the limitations we experienced with our previous conventional banking relationship,” said Jason Sharpe, Co-Owner and CEO of Namasté Solar.   

The team at Namasté Solar was impressed with the timely, thoughtful, and accommodating responses of the Amalgamated team. “The Amalgamated team worked hard to understand our industry and our business model to find the best ways to support us as a banking partner. Understanding our business created an opportunity to share strategic planning and allowed us to adjust our borrowing base and terms in ways that better suited our workflows,” said Sharpe. 

Over the last 16 years, they have installed 9,005 solar projects (117 MW), which has the environmental impact of planting 1,952,216 trees, removing 25,507 vehicles off the road each year, or preventing 13,285,044 gallons of gasoline from being consumed.

While the core business of Namasté Solar is to bring solar panel installation projects to both personal and commercial clients, they also dedicate their services to strengthening the community by collaborating with mission-aligned local partners on volunteer efforts and through profit sharing schemes. Through a November 2020 campaign initiative called “Keep the Lights on Colorado”, Namasté Solar donated $10,000 to Energy Outreach Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit that will use the contribution to provide community solar garden subscriptions (CSGs) to families throughout Colorado who are struggling to pay their utility bills. Thirteen local Colorado businesses supported the campaign, including Amalgamated Bank, and together they raised $30,000. This translates to 120 families receiving a CSG subscription for a year. The subscriptions provide long-term stability in the form of monthly bill credits that reduce the burden of home energy costs and free up dollars for other basic needs for these families — all while utilizing the cost-saving and environmental benefits of clean solar energy. 

In 2020, the company also rebooted their community giving program. A committee created a proposal that went before the company co-ownership for a vote. That vote resulted in a new commitment to giving and a new process for Namasté Solar called community profit sharing, a program in which the company dedicates 10% of their net profits to the community. As a result, Namasté Solar donated $48,494 to 10 organizations dedicated to environmental justice, ending food insecurity, gender and racial equality, and environmental conservation.  

Namasté Solar has clearly made an incredible impact on their Colorado-based community. However, business has not always been easy. “When we experienced economic challenges in 2018, Amalgamated worked with our accounting team to ensure that we had reliable access to our LOC at a time of need and helped us navigate through a difficult year. True partnership is realized when support is needed. One of our core values is long-term thinking, and Amalgamated shared this value in supporting us through that challenging time in the spirit of partnership,” said Sharpe.

In addition to the LOC, Amalgamated also provided a commercial real estate loan to finance the tenant improvements at Namasté Solar’s Denver office and warehouse location, as well as the long-term financing for this building upon completion.   

In 2020, there were more hard times, with much uncertainty surrounding the full impact of COVID-19 on business operations, the safety of employees, customers and community, and the economy. As a result, in the spring of 2020, Namasté Solar made the difficult decision to lay off 15% of their workforce and furlough another 15%, falling to around 140 employees. They initiated several programs to keep all stakeholders safe with almost unlimited sick days, time granted for them to go get tested, paying employees who went into quarantine, and hiring a full-time safety person to work on COVID related communications, policies, procedures, and testing. With these internal efforts, bolstered by the services and support of Amalgamated, Namasté Solar has since staffed back up to nearly 190, with further plans to hire. 

Namasté Solar continues to grow and operate in the communities of Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins. As the employee-owned cooperative is approaching 200 people, a big part of their purpose is empowering employees to literally take ownership of their work. “As we grow, we promote more green jobs within the community and expand the community of customers and partners who have joined our mission to invest in clean energy,” said Sharpe. 

The company has also committed to a goal of net zero by 2030. They have already offset the emissions from their fleet and facilities and will continue to expand on that to reduce and offset all their emissions – both direct and indirect. 

Core to Amalgamated’s legacy has been our work to translate deposits into impact loans. Our partnership with Namasté Solar represents a proud moment in our 100-year-old history of supporting social change. Banking with Amalgamated means choosing a greener, cleaner, healthier future—it means investing in companies that are making lasting social impact and changing their communities to become more sustainable and better prepared for the future. Amalgamated is proud to have been a part of this journey for Namasté Solar, and we look forward to our continued relationship.