Since our initial certification in 2009, we’ve seen the B Corp movement grow and evolve in many ways. (If you’re just tuning in, here’s a quick rundown on what it means to be a Certified B Corp.) It’s always exciting to welcome new businesses focused on a triple bottom line (people + planet + profit) into the B Corp community, and even more so when they are a local NC company and one of our builder partners! Because our builder & developer partners are literally creating homes and communities, we believe the building industry has a great opportunity to lead the change by investing in the B Corp Certification process.
We are delighted to introduce Haven Ventures, as one of North Carolina’s newest Certified B Corps. A Design-Build firm based out of Durham, NC, Haven Ventures is the first building company in the Triangle to achieve B Corp Certification. We are proud to work with Haven on their multifamily, single family, and development projects in their mission to deliver efficient, healthy housing with character and craftsmanship.
So, how hard is it for a building company to become a Certified B Corp? Here’s what Haven’s Executive Director of Architecture & Operations, Zach Sunderland, had to share when we asked about their journey as a design-build firm and becoming a Certified B Corp.
Haven Ventures is a certified B Corp that exists to foster individual welfare and community resilience. We accomplish this by nourishing the built and natural environment as well as the people who create and inhabit them. Haven is based in Durham, NC and was founded in 2016 by partners Z. Sunderland, Drew Helm, and Bryce Jahner.
Haven is a small conglomerate consisting of various entities, each associated with specific professional services. Each entity has been strategically established in order to increase overarching impact.
From the outset, the founding team resolved to establish a practice which focused on positive impact for under-served communities. It’s hard to pinpoint the moment we first discovered the B Corp movement, but as soon as it was in our awareness we decided to pursue certification. The quintessential values of B Corp were so aligned that it seemed inevitable, not to mention that we already identified closely with many of the companies within the B Corp community.
The rigorous third-party verification process was a draw for us, rather than a barrier. We knew it would challenge us towards excellence and transparency, as well as create a framework for accountability. The first step on this path is the initial assessment, which is a chore in and of itself, but provides a (somewhat painful and eye-opening) perspective on where the company stands and where it needs to go. To prepare for verification, we were forced to formalize our values into policies which is an invaluable effort, probably easier for us as a start-up rather than an established firm, but we believe it was essential for generally achieving efficacy.
There are not many certified B Corps that operate in our industry, this became clear when going through the verification process. Many items seemed relevant, but slightly offset, hard to answer, and required robust explanation. Fortunately, the B Lab verification process gives space for these sorts of things. The biggest challenge for our team was finding the time to plan, discuss, document, iterate, and formalize our policies while still investing into the growth of a young company. With that said, I would encourage any company considering certification to simply dive-in and commit to giving the process the time, effort, attention and resources it deserves. In the end, certification or not, the company will be more effective.
We are proud to be part of a community of organizations full of people utilizing their careers, every day, to improve the world.
Are you a purpose driven business striving to lead social and environmental change? Do you believe businesses ought to benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders? If so, the B Corp community is here for you! We’d love to connect and answer any questions you have about becoming a B Corp or the B Corp movement.