Green Finance Goes Mainstream, Lining Up Trillions Behind Global Energy Transition

The Wall Street Journal May 22nd, 2021

After years of intermittent excitement and fizzled expectations, environmental-oriented investing is no longer just a niche interest.

Some of the world’s biggest companies and deepest-pocketed investors are lining up trillions of dollars to finance a shift away from fossil fuels.

Assets in investment funds focused partly on the environment reached almost $2 trillion globally in the first quarter, more than tripling in three years. Investors are putting $3 billion a day into these funds. More than $5 billion worth of bonds and loans designed to fund green initiatives are now issued every day. The two biggest U.S. banks pledged $4 trillion in climate-oriented financing over the next decade.

“We’ve reached the tipping point and beyond,” said James Chapman, chief financial officer at Dominion Energy Inc., one of the country’s biggest utilities. Dominion, which has begun issuing green bonds, is planning to spend $26 billion or more on clean energy such as wind and solar in the next five years.

After years of intermittent excitement followed by fizzled expectations, green finance is now looking less like the niche interest of socially conscious investors and more like a sustainable gold rush. Driven by surging valuations for electric-vehicle companies such as Tesla Inc. and startup battery producers, banks and investors are betting the transition from fossil fuels is here to stay, and that they can make money by getting behind it, further entrenching the shift.

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Mike Smith – PR Counsel

Mike Smith serves as the public relations counsel for Common Ground. He has four decades of experience with 20 years as the head of his own environmental and energy PR firm, GreenSmith PR, located in Falls Church, Va. Mike earned his master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago. He has won four national editorial awards for environmental communications and a special recognition from the National Press Club for 25 years serving on the Headliners Committee. Mike has supported National Fish and Wildlife Foundation communications the past decade.


An invaluable part of our team.

image001Landowners are our most important partners. Common Ground Capital (“CGC”) performs significant due diligence to identify landowners whose properties possess the biological and ecological attributes required to achieve the targeted preservation and/or restoration goals of the targeted species and its habitat that we seek to benefit through the conservation banking model (see “What is a conservation bank tab”).

CGC is a firm believer that it is important to keep private landowners on their land and by partnering with us we can help them monetize a new and possibly significant revenue stream. After contacting the landowner to educate him/her on the conservation banking model and confirming interest in becoming a partner with CGC, CGC then deploys its financial and highly specialized human resource and intellectual capital to perform a detailed and expensive investigation of the property which requires a series of species and habitat surveys.


Wayne Walker

Principal, Common Ground Capital LLC



Wayne is the Principal of Common Ground Capital LLC (CGC) and founded the company in April 2012. For many years and in different phases of his life, Wayne has been very fortunate to work with many talented individuals, companies, Universities and organizations in the energy and wildlife conservation space in the Southern Plains Region of the United States.  Wayne has also been influenced by his family’s ties to the rural landscape and heritage in Southeast and West Texas.

The vision to form CGC was the result of observing years of less than optimal solutions to address conflicts in the energy and environment interface that typically short changed wildlife conservation and in virtually all cases created an un-level playing field for pro-active responsible energy companies seeking to lead by good example. After investigating options for a better way forward and developing mentoring relationships with a select number of people in the field of natural resource mitigation, Wayne pursued his vision of forming a company that would establish Common Ground for key stakeholders by creating a product that both properly values ecosystems services under an approved regulatory framework based on free market economics and provides for commercially reasonable mitigation solutions to responsible energy developers.  This business model delivers the maximum amount of certainty to all stakeholders:  wildlife conservation achieves a net conservation benefit and industry development interest achieve efficient and permanent transfer of liability to Common Ground Capital so that their projects can move forward without litigation risk. 

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Restoration Systems, LLC

Strategic Investor

Wayne Walker with Restoration Systems

Restoration Systems LLCRestoration Systems LLC (click link below) is is one of the largest wetland and stream mitigation banking companies in the United States and has been in the business since 1998.  In July 2013, Restoration Systems came on board as a strategic investor in Common Ground Capital LLC (“CGC”).  The primary two principals of Restoration Systems, George Howard and John Preyer have proven to be exceptional business partners for Common Ground Capital because they bring not only financial support but a great team that has been in this business for many years with even more lessons learned.  

Viewers are strongly encouraged to click the Restoration Systems Web Site below for more information on their company.

Stephanie Manes

Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) Biologist

Principal and Senior Scientist, Grassland Conservation Services, LLC.


Stephanie Manes Headshot Comp Horiz

Lesser Prairie Chicken Ecological Strategy & Management Plan Development, Site Identification, and Landowner Negotiation Support,  USFWS Interface/Strategist and Land Trust Interface.

Stephanie is the Principal and Senior Scientist of Grassland Conservation Services, LLC and works with Common Ground Capital on a consulting basis.  She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in Wildlife Ecology and Management and Rangeland Ecology from Oklahoma State University (1999), and has been a professional member of The Wildlife Society and Society for Range Management for 20 years.


Dr. Amy Smith

American Burying Beetle (ABB) Biologist

Dr. Amy Smith

Dr. Amy Smith received her doctorate from the University of Arkansas while working for the Missouri Department of Conservation. The consistent theme of her subsequent career has been conservation. Dr. Smith has shared her love of conservation with students at Northeastern State University where she served as the Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Program and taught over 14 different courses including entomology, ecology, limnology, and principles of fish and wildlife management.


Jim Roberts

Land Acquisition Lead for Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC)

Jim Roberts

Jim is responsible for all aspects of developing and maintaining relationships with Common Ground Capital’s most valuable partners, private landowners. Jim manages virtually all phases of landowner relationships from initial contact, contract negotiations, coordination of on site development activities and long term support post credit sales. Jim graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1973. Prior to joining CGC in the summer of 2012 Jim had extensive careers in both the wind and oil & gas energy sectors throughout the Southern Plains and Midwest Region of the United States. Jim was one of the original employees of Horizon Wind Energy and he initially led site acquisition efforts and later was promoted to a Senior Project Developer and was responsible for running the Edmond Field Office for EDP Renewables. Jim has strong ties to the Agriculture/Ranching community in Southwest Oklahoma. Jim resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife Penny. They have four adult children who live in either Oklahoma or Texas.

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Sherry Teresa

Property Analysis Record (PAR) Economics Analyst

President, EcoLogical Solutions Consulting, LLC

Conservation – particularly assessing, developing and promoting sound long-term stewardship (LTS) programs, creative conservation/mitigation strategies, and innovative and secure funding for conservation stewardship – has been both her vocation and avocation for over 28 years.

Sherry has a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University and a Master’s degree from UCLA in Biogeography and Ecosystems Analysis. She has worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Department and the California Department of Fish and Game (now CA Fish and Wildlife). In 1990, Sherry founded the Center for Natural Lands Management and acted as its Executive Director for 20 years. The Center is a long-term stewardship organization for conservation and mitigation lands. In addition to thousands of acres of mitigation lands, the Center managed over 20 conservation and mitigation banks.


Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc.

Environmental & Statistical Consultants


Western Ecosystems Technology (WEST) is a valued partner to Common Ground Capital (CGC). During the Spring of 2012 WEST performed site specific high density helicopter surveys on multiple target conservation bank location sites for CGC. Prior to starting CGC, Wayne had a long standing relationship with WEST during his tenure in the wind industry and has collaborated with WEST on a consulting basis in the distant past.

WEST provides environmental and statistical consulting services and contract research nationally and internationally to industry, government, and private organizations. They offer clients a unique combination of field ecology and statistics to help solve on-going and contemporary natural resource problems.

Through the use of state-of-the-art statistical principles in the design, conduct and analysis of ecological field studies, WEST specializes in a common sense, defensible, and professional approach to the solution of natural resource problems facing government and industry. WEST has a permanent core of ecologists and biometricians with broad experience in basic and applied ecological studies and the sophisticated analysis of natural resource data.