Helping impact investors combat climate change.


September - December,

My Role

Product Design,
Research Synthesis,
Video Production


Ashley Ma,
Roshel Chawla,
Syed Osama Hussain,
Yi Li


Adobe XD,
Adobe Premiere Pro


Project Brief

City Builder Green is a sub-platform of City Builder that focuses on climate change investment opportunities. It is designed to help impact investors combat climate change by discovering, understanding, and managing community-driven and place-based opportunities.


Problem Statement

How can we help investors discover and understand impactful investment opportunities in climate change on the City Builder platform?


What Is Happening?

1.5 °C


The 2016 Paris Alignment goal is to keep global warming within 2°C, and ideally within 1.5°C, from pre-industrial times.

Total climate finance has steadily increased over the last decade, reaching USD 632 billion in 2019/2020, but flows have slowed in the last few years.



An increase of at least 590% in annual climate finance – to USD 4.35 trillion annually by 2030 – is required to meet internationally agreed climate objectives and to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Source: Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2021 - Climate Policy Initiative


Impact Investing

What is Impact Investing?

Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Why do we focus on Impact Investing?

  • The impact investing market has increased dramatically in the past ten years, and it is attracting considerable interest and has the potential to increase in scale.
  • Impact investing contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate goals.
  • Impact investors increasingly recognize that substantial capital flows are needed to address the climate crisis.


City Builder by Citi (Our sponsor)

City Builder is a free, data-driven platform developed by Citi to help investors, fund managers, developers, and community members make impactful, place-based investments.


City Builder Offerings

  What they Have?  

Socio-economic opportunities

New Markets Tax Credits
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
Opportunity Zone

  What they Need?  

Climate-change opportunities

To help impact investors combat climate change

user research

Target User

Initially, we targeted high-level and medium-level professional investors since they have sufficient capital and more potential to invest in climate-change opportunities. However, based on our primary and secondary research, we found that motivation is more critical in impact investing. The users who would like to use the data platform such as City Builder are basically motivated and value the impact created by the opportunities more. Hence, we redefined our target users as impact investors.






  Initial Target User  

High-level and medium-level professional investors

They are primarily interested in corporate and portfolio investments.

Financial returns

Financial returns, Opportunity details, Flexible options, Professional advice, Comparable data, Financial risks

Divided by different investment experience and capital

  Redefined target user  

Impact investors

They are interested in generating positive social and environmental impact along with financial returns.

Impact, Financial returns

Impact measurement, Opportunities with track record, Clarity of data on products, Professionals with relevant skill sets, Research on market trends

Divided by different motivations and impact goals

user research

User interviews

To better understand and validate our user needs, we conducted 8 in-depth interviews with people related to impact investing. They take different roles in the investing process, such as individual investors, wealth managers, analysts, and finance leads. Based on our interviews and observations, we drew the empathy map for each and analyzed their pain points and needs.

Peaks that I remember being covered with snow year-round are no longer covered by the snow.
Robert Swigert
Co-Founder & CEO, Goodstead
Opportunities were hard to come by, and then their benefits were difficult to assess.
Stu Dalheim
Corporate Engagement Strategist, Calvert Research
The understanding of the local communities should be like a driver of the investments.
The critical thing is the true costs and impacts of business and investment decisions need to be reflected in those organizations balance sheets.

user research

User Needs

Opportunity Specific Details

Monetary & Non-Monetary Value

Comparable Climate Data

Trust Worthy Platform

Accessible Communication

Community Climate Scenario



Based on our user interviews and research, we created the persona Alex, who is a novice impact investor and attempts to invest in climate-change opportunities.


user journey map

We used the 5E journey map to analyze users’ experiences further and help us find opportunities on different stages.


Market Map

To assume where our product could fall in the market, we did the competitive analysis, including the current City Builder and three other platforms ( Green Climate Fund, MSCI, and Urban Shift), which aim to help combat climate change through investing. Additionally, we conducted card sorting activities with three investment decision-makers, in which we let them prioritize their needs by importance from high to low. After synthesizing all the information gathered, we mapped it to the market map below.


Key insights

  • Our target users are motivated to invest in climate change and contribute to their communities.
  • When financial return information is not available, we can also evaluate impact investment opportunities through non-monetary value.
  • The lack of consistent data and metrics across different opportunities makes it difficult for investors to make decisions.
  • Detailed opportunity information and long-term connections can help to enhance trust.


Design Principles

Help users discover place-based climate opportunities.

Match opportunities with the city's climate needs.

Measure and compare the impact of opportunities with consistent frameworks.

Build connections between the platform, opportunity providers, and investors.






  • Discover your city climate scenarios.
  • Discover impactful opportunities that match your interests and goals.

Understand City Needs

  • Learn about the city's basic information, climate action plan, climate risk, climate-relevant statistics, and more.
  • Align your investment with the city’s climate goals.

Understand Opportunity Impact

  • Learn about opportunity details, potential impact, timelines, and providers.
  • Use professional frameworks with standard climate metrics to increase data clarity, comparability, and credibility.


  • Save your favorite opportunities and organize your own climate investment portfolios.
  • Compare different opportunities in details and share the comparison chart with others.


  • Work with Citi advisors to get professional planning and investment guidance.
  • Contact City Builder to seek funding for your impactful project.


Proposed plan

For the first stage, we provide City Builder Green as an extension subsite of the existing City Builder platform. It enables Investors to discover investment opportunities focusing more on environmental impact.
In the future, we propose integrating the social and green components of City Builder as a one-stop solution, which would create a seamless experience for investors to discover impact investing opportunities.


Expected impact

The success of our product will be measured by the following criteria: Number of investors contacting opportunity providers, Number of sign-ups, Number of opportunities displayed on the platform.

We created a value-based business model to predict the impact of our product and estimate financial requirements for the next stages.


Estimated average tons of CO2 emissions reduction by each potential opportunity


Anticipated tonnes of CO2 reduction in 10 years


Expected share of the U.S. CO2 reduction target

Year 1 - Pilot

$1 million required

100+ opportunities displayed

Year 2 - Merge

$1.8 million required

200+ opportunities displayed

Year 3+ - Maintain

$1.5 million required

300+ opportunities displayed

Further thought


The design process is not linear

Don’t be afraid to go back and challenge the previous insights. Because impact investing and climate change were new and complicated fields for us as designers, our team spent much time researching, defining, and redefining our challenge. Throughout the design process, we continually questioned and revised our insights. I found it beneficial to go back and forth between discovery and design stages, as we could get more new insights and revise our design direction over time.

Precisely defining target users is essential

When we got stuck several times in the design stage, we decided to go back to our research and synthesis. We narrowed down and redefined our target users, which helped us revise our user needs and develop the design principles more smoothly.

Worked with stakeholders

We designed for an existing product City Builder, so we worked closely with our sponsor, the Citi Venture team. We interviewed and discussed with them several times about their constraints and needs. As we delivered our product, we provided our solution for the environmental part and proposed further plans for the whole City Builder.

Further thought

Next Steps

Develop a one-stop solution for discovering impact investment opportunities

Because of the time limitation, we deployed our product as an extension subsite of City Builder. For the next stage, we need to do more research on standard social and environmental impact metrics. It will help us create an universal template for impact investment opportunities and complete the seamless experience for impact investors in the platform.

Build a better brand image for the product

As we planned to integrate the social and environmental components into one platform, the existing brand image and design system also could be rebuilt and upgraded. It will help attract more potential investors and build stronger connections between the platform and users.

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