Carbon Negative Development in Tennessee Aims to Reduce Earth’s Temperature 1 Degree

Mantria Corporation is a “diversified by necessity” $79 million company which focuses on green community development, socially responsible investing, distressed real estate fund management, mortgage banking, renewable energy and biorefinery management, music and entertainment, and philanthropy. Headquartered in Philadelphia with 63 employees, Mantria describes itself as the world’s first “life brand.” I spoke with CEO Troy Wragg, who founded the company in 2005, to get the scoop on all that’s going on with Mantria. I learned that amidst a whole host of interrelated programs, the concept of carbon negative development sits at Mantria’s core.
It sounds like you do a lot of different things. Tell me, what is Mantria Corporation?
Mantria was founded in 2005, when my partner and I put together $5,000 in student loan money and bought property in Tennessee and started developing. When the economy turned and real estate options became more limited, we were forced to diversity by necessity, and created a number of entities to branch us into other industries: mortgages, investor relations, investments, ultimately renewable energy.
Within biorefinery, we have started a joint venture with Carbon Diversion Inc (CDI) biorefinery to turn waste into bioproducts like biochar (biomass charcoal material used for soil amendment in industrials) and biofuels.
We are developing Mantria Place in Tennessee, the largest master planned community which consists of up to 6200 acres, on top of the Cumberland Plateau. We are developing 4500 home sites, which will be ready in 2011. This will be a sustainability themed community, which will also include an eco-village which will house carbon fields.

What are carbon fields?
Carbon fields are 1-3 acre grids within our development which we will be selling off for carbon credits. On each we’ll be planting switchgrass and other fast growing crops, using biochar (a super fertilizer) to enhance the growth and then selling the carbon offsets. We are working with First Environmental and TSS Energy to create carbon credits from this.
The carbon field concept is definitely our creation; we put it together a few weeks ago. We think it will be a big revenue source this year, as well as great for marketing and PR.
How would you characterize your ‘addressable impact’?
One of our goals is creating the first carbon negative community at Mantria Place through use of a carbon tax and creation of carbon negative biochar.
Based on work with Ecosecurities we understand that if we put out 10,000 carbon diversion systems (through CDI’s Carbonization process) we can reduce the earth’s atmosphere by 1 degree. This is a 20 year goal. Right now we have 3 systems, but we are on our way there.
What keeps you up at night?
Adrenaline. Our CMO doesn’t sleep either. My business partner and I talk all hours of the night. I’m more fearful that we’ll miss out on an opportunity – this is the greatest market we’ve ever seen in terms of opportunity. It’s up to the public and private sector to come out of trenches and put positive investment dollars to work to rebuild the economy. I’m really just fearful that we’ll miss out.

Amie runs Cobblestone Solutions, LLC, a consultancy focusing on business development, marketing, communications and strategy for mission driven companies. Previously, Amie served as Director of Business Development for Viv (a Bay Area environmental start-up), Program Manager for Social Venture Technology Group (a boutique consulting firm focused on measuring social and environmental impact), and Associate Consultant at Bain & Co (a global management consulting firm). She is particularly interested in innovations that reduce waste, altering consumer behavior for good, and leveraging the power of business to solve the climate crisis. You can read more from her on her blog, on, and on JustMeans.

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