who we are
Southface has promoted sustainable development and green building through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance since 1978 under the governance of a board of directors. Over the years, the organization has been a leader throughout the southeast in sustainability. Each day, our staff and board continue to strive for a more sustainable future by educating the population and the market on resilient, resource conscious lifestyles, researching cutting-edge technologies, advocating for clean forms of energy and working directly on projects to improve building efficiency and reduce the overall carbon footprint of the built environment.
Southface began as an all-volunteer organization promoting solar energy production around a celebration called Sun Day, May 3, 1978. A small band of committed environmentalists continued to work together after the event, educating the public on installation of various solar technologies in a residential context. Known initially as the "Georgia Solar Coalition", the organization became a 501 (c)3 organization in 1979 and has since maintained that status. Early on, leadership recognized that clean energy would not meet society's needs if demand did not reduce, and that much of the energy we use is wasted. Fully respecting the connection between energy consumption and environmental impact, the organization began to focus on energy and water efficiency in the built environment through building science.
As the organization developed, Southface engaged more deeply with stakeholders and strategic partners to transform the building market in the Southeast. Southface partnered with the City of Atlanta in 1996 to design and build a demonstration workspace for the Summer Olympics - the Southface Energy and Environmental Resource Center. Still home to the residential; community; development, communications and events teams, the Resource Center models sustainable building technologies for the residential market.
A few years later, Southface partnered with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association to launch the EarthCraft program in 1999. Providing a practical blueprint for green building and sustainable development, the EarthCraft family of programs has grown from single family homes to include multifamily, light commercial, historic building and community certifications today.
The success of the EarthCraft program is largely due to the adoption of the green building certification requirements in Georgia’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). In the early 2000's, Southface led advocacy efforts to include the provision the State’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, and the change has enabled thousands of families throughout Georgia to live in healthy, truly affordable homes.
Southface expanded partnerships with the building community in the design and construction of its second building, the highly acclaimed Eco Office. Southface drew from its strong network with the community to broker partnerships with developers, designers and a consortium of contractors who took on the project at no profit. Those partnerships produced a building that uses 80 percent less water and 50 percent less energy than a traditional office building of the same size.
Today, Southface builds on its tradition of science-based environmental and sustainability strategies through our programs and services. Southface continues to pursue its educational mission through the Southeast Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Training (SWEET) Center, which provides vocational training, certification-based training and continuing education for building professionals. Southface staff continue to research technologies and techniques to increase building performance in every sector. Advocacy efforts effectively promote renewable energy production and sustainable growth models. In recent years, programs and partnerships like Grants to Green and the Nonprofit Energy and Water Efficiency (NEWE) Initiative are channeling Southface's expertise in technical assistance to mission-driven organizations to amplify their work in whatever their chosen service area.
For nearly four decades, Southface has positioned itself to be a best in class nonprofit organization, committed to both mission-driven work and support for the well-being of employees, partners and the communities in which we work. Southface has been deeply committed to social equity and justice, recognizing the essential nature of these considerations in truly sustainable solutions. In an effort to demonstrate this commitment, Southface has entered an innovative transparency platform, the JUST program, administered by the International Living Futures Institute. JUST is a new approach to understanding organizational practices supporting employee and community health, safety, happiness and more. Southface is the only nonprofit organization in Georgia participating in this voluntary disclosure program.
Southface Annual Report
Download a pdf version of the 2016 Annual Report
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