“Our model turns waste into wood into new trees,” says Christensen. “We turn a waste stream into higher value products and then connect those revenues to new tree planting and maintenance.” In addition to the environmental benefits, Christensen says Cambium is partnering with major cities to develop “urban mills” that convert the trees into usable lumber, creating a dedicated revenue stream and local employment opportunities.
Cambium will partner with The Arbor Day Foundation
, a national tree-planting nonprofit, to conduct stakeholder engagement and tree data collection and analysis in U.S. cities over the next 15 months with the aim of developing and launching local “reforestation hubs.”
“This grant enables our team to fill a critical capacity gap,” says Repka, who serves as Cambium’s city partnership lead. “It provides an opportunity to help cities assess the economic, social, and environmental potential of a circular urban forestry system.”
The idea for Cambium Carbon was borne during Christensen’s internship with the World Resources Institute in summer 2019, where he worked on federal carbon removal policy. Building a finance model based on his Renewable Energy Project Finance course at YSE, Christensen was able to secure initial seed funding to start Cambium Carbon, but the initiative truly took off when he joined the fall 2019 Accelerator cohort of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY)
Cambium Carbon also won funding
from the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Program and a Climate Change Innovation Seed Grant from the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY). Tsai CITY also provided additional funding through its Summer Accelerator program, which allowed Christensen and Repka to field a team of Yale students to continue building the initiative, including Yale School of Management students Dylan Murray and Ben Selden.