Ecology Building Society sees slight fall in profits

7 February 2017 .......  Ecology Building Society chief executive Paul Ellis at their offices in Silsden near Keighley.  Picture Tony Johnson
7 February 2017 ....... Ecology Building Society chief executive Paul Ellis at their offices in Silsden near Keighley. Picture Tony Johnson
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Ecology Building Society posted a slight reduction in profitability last year despite recording record assets.

Profits with the Silsden-based building society fell from £920,000 in 2016 to £915,000 last year, with gross lending having also declined to £28.2m from £30.7m the year prior.

Aside from the modest declines Ecology posted assets of £178.7m, its highest ever level, up from £173.1m in 2016, and grew its saving balances to £167.8m from £163.1m a year ago.

Paul Ellis, chief executive of Ecology Building Society, said that the firm had a strong pipeline of lending opportunities for the year ahead.

He said: “Recent initiatives such as the report of the Government’s Green Finance Taskforce are positive signs of a growing interest in Ecology’s sustainable lending model, demonstrating how finance can support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“We’ve been providing sustainable mortgages for more than 30 years, offering innovative discounts that incentivise the most energy efficient projects and properties. Our continued growth and success shows that finance that benefits both people and planet can be profitable.

“As well as supporting more and more people to renovate their homes to a high environmental standard, I’m particularly pleased that we have increased our lending for community-led housing solutions which are helping to tackle the housing and affordability crisis.

“We have a strong pipeline of lending opportunities which will enable us to continue to grow our mortgage book in 2018 while maintaining our commitment to our core principles of sustainability.”

Ecology offers ethical savings accounts that fund mortgages for properties and projects supporting individuals and communities to adopt green building practices, improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock and to live or work in a way that promotes a sustainable economy.

In 2017, it loaned more than £28.2m for sustainable properties and projects, with 78 per cent of mortgages advanced on residential properties (including new builds, renovations and shared ownership) and 22 per cent on community-led housing (including charities, community land trusts and housing co-operatives) and non-residential properties such as sustainable businesses.

The results continue more than 30 years of uninterrupted profitability for Ecology, with the firm saying any additional profit adds to Ecology’s capital base, increases its financial strength and enhances its ability to grow its lending and further invest in the digital capabilities.

Mr Ellis, the longest-serving CEO in the building society sector, celebrated 25 years at Ecology last year and since his appointment as chief executive has overseen an increase in assets of more than £150m.

Last month the Green Finance Taskforce published its report to the UK Government that contained 30 recommendations, including a number to support green lending.

Speaking about the firm’s approach to offering green home mortgages, he said: “If we are to meet our Paris climate agreement commitments, the finance sector needs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Ecology has pioneered green mortgages for over 30 years offering discounts for the life of the mortgage of up to 1.25 per cent for the most energy-efficient new and self-build homes, supporting the take-up of green building materials and low energy techniques such as Passivhaus, and up to 1.5 per cent for renovation of existing buildings which is crucial given the challenge of retrofitting our existing housing stock.

“Following publication of the Green Finance Taskforce’s recommendations, the Government needs to grasp the opportunity to support the green mortgage market further, with meaningful incentives for people to build or retrofit their homes to a high energy-efficiency standard.”