By Haven Bills
For most nonprofits, any opportunity to save money is a welcome one, as those savings can be invested in work which fulfills the organization’s mission. Utility bills represent one area where nonprofits can realize big savings, as inefficient buildings and fixtures can be a large portion of an organization’s operating expenses.
Southface started the Nonprofit Energy and Water Efficiency (NEWE) Initiative to reduce nonprofit utility bills through water and energy efficiency improvements, giving these organizations the opportunity to focus on what matters most; improving the lives of their community members. The NEWE Initiative portfolio includes the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Feeding America member Food Banks, and the Salvation Army. For the past three years, Southface has worked closely with Boys and Girls Clubs of America facilities across the country as a part of this impactful program. To date, 45 Boys and Girls Clubs in 16 states have been awarded funds through the program, and results indicate an average year-over-year utility cost savings of up to 65 percent over their baseline. Participating Boys and Girls Clubs have seen cumulative annual cost savings of $656,728 – enough to serve more than 220 new club members each year, or enough to power six new clubs for one year.
From June 22 through June 24, 2018 the Boys & Girls Clubs of America hosted its 51st annual Keystone Conference in Atlanta. Held in a different city each year, the Keystone Conference brings together nearly 2,500 Boys & Girls Clubs teen members from across the country and is meant to celebrate the leadership skills and exceptional character of its members. Additionally, the conference provides attendees with the chance to explore career and college preparedness opportunities, as well as opportunities to connect with the local community.
As a Boys & Girls Clubs of America partner, Southface was asked to host students for an educational tour and activity introducing them to the rapidly-growing green building and sustainability industries.
Participating students were given a tour of Southface’s main campus, learning how energy efficient technology can reduce overall energy and water use, utility costs, and improve the health of building occupants. The students saw a variety of technologies not commonly found in a standard office building, such as a composting toilet, rainwater cistern, green roof, and a solar array. The tour concluded on Southface’s Eco Office green roof, where students had a photo opportunity against the downtown city skyline.
Students also engaged in a hands-on green building training at Southface’s Southeast Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Training (SWEET) Center. There, they learned how to conduct blower door tests, duct sealing and insulation simulations, and practiced working with a heat sensing gun and sealing gaps in siding to make for an air tight building envelope.
Through savings from the NEWE Initiative, Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the country can serve more students and families. The facilities updates serve a dual purpose in improving building efficiency while providing an educational experience for staff and students. Southface was thrilled to show the next generation of workers the variety of green building technology and environmental sustainability opportunities awaiting them.