High-net-worth individuals are uniquely endowed with the resources to make a big difference in the green movement.

"Ultra-high-net-worth people can see the power of their philanthropic dollars to do things that wouldn't get funded otherwise or to do something that's innovative and moves the needle of change," says Elizabeth Snyder, the philanthropic director at GenSpring Family Offices, a multifamily office with locations mainly along the East Coast.

Snyder says many families she works with at GenSpring see philanthropy as part entrepreneurship-an extension of their other ventures and investments. "One of the things I hear from clients is that they're businesspeople, but they believe that economic development and environmental protection aren't mutually exclusive," she says. This means, for instance, that they want to include green space and green building techniques in a development project.

Snyder, who works in Atlanta, recalls one client in Georgia who recently built a vacation home with solar panels and a specially designed ground cover that recycles and retains groundwater-an important feature given the Southeast's occasional severe drought conditions.

Part of Snyder's job is to help clients find the best way to realize their green ambitions, whether it's through advocacy, land donations to a land trust, education or whatever. "It's about connecting them to the best partners so they can be the most efficient," she says.

Snyder says that land trusts and conservation easements generate lots of interest among GenSpring's clients, who may want to protect a particular region where they live or take vacations. And easements, of course, offer state and federal tax benefits.

Another popular green option for wealthy families is a public-private partnership. "A lot of our clients support green-space projects by partnering with government entities," Snyder says. "I think there's a trend among the [ultra wealthy] to fully utilize public money to realize the leveraged power of their money to help further a particular project."

An example is the Beltline project in Atlanta, a huge redevelopment plan that combines green space, trails, transit and new development along a 22-mile stretch of railroad encircling the city's urban core. The project is expected to cost $2.8 billion over 25 years and is being funded through a combination of federal, state and local money, along with private philanthropic contributions.

Not all of GenSpring's clients are gung ho about the environment, but many are. "The environmental movement within philanthropy is definitely a growing trend," Snyder says.

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