A SILSDEN business boss is celebrating a milestone.

Paul Ellis has clocked-up a quarter of a century with the Ecology Building Society.

And for the past 22 years, he has held the post of chief executive.

Since his appointment, the ethical finance pioneer has overseen a staggering 900 per cent increase in assets – equating to more than £150 million.

The main aim of the society – based at Belton Road, in Silsden – is to provide mortgages for properties that support sustainable communities and respect the environment.

It backs eco-renovations, refurbishments and new builds.

Under Mr Ellis’ leadership, the Ecology has widened its remit from residential-only mortgages to lending for a range of commercial and community-led housing projects.

Last year, the society loaned over £30m for sustainable properties and schemes.

“We are really contributing to building the blocks for – or pointing the way to – a new economy,” said Mr Ellis.

“We’ve proved the sustainability of our model that pursues values.”

His father served in the forces and as a consequence the family lived all over the world – including Belgium, Germany and Malaysia – which he says gave him an “international outlook”.

“I very quickly gained a feeling we needed to protect our natural environment,” Mr Ellis added.

“I then allied that with an interest in social justice.

“Without social justice you can’t protect our natural environment, and we need to protect it for all our sakes and for that of future generations.

“Everything I do is driven by that.”

Mr Ellis studied European integration at the London School of Economics before joining the Ecology.

Utilising a flair for IT, he worked as a hobby on the society’s computer systems ahead of taking-up a full-time job.

Within just three years, he had become chief executive.

He says he is delighted the Ecology champions small-scale and community developments in a UK market that he claims is “controlled by a handful of large developers, meaning affordability is a permanent problem”.

“I got the idea straight away of people using their own personal capital to build the economy they wanted,” he said. “I was a big supporter of the idea.

“It’s about addressing imbalances in the housing market.

“We need a massive national retrofit and renovation programme to get things up to scratch if we are to have any chance of meeting our climate change commitments.”

Mr Ellis says he is proud of the Ecology’s achievements.

The building society – which began trading in 1981, from a tiny upstairs office in Cross Hills, when ten people put in £500 each – was the first in its sector in the UK to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark, an accreditation celebrating responsible tax.

It also holds a green accreditation mark – the highest possible – under the Investors in the Environment scheme.

And the society was selected as an ethical ‘best buy’ for its mortgages and savings accounts by Ethical Consumer magazine.