For over 40 years, Southface Institute has been a leader in formulating and advocating for resource efficiency, clean energy policy and sustainable development at the state and local level. We work to advance energy equity, energy codes, climate resilience, green affordable housing and green infrastructure across the Southeast. Southface knows that sound policy can enable a just transition to the clean energy economy and more equitable, sustainable development, and is working to influence data-driven, community and stakeholder informed, innovative approaches to a more resilient, low-carbon future.

Clean Energy Research and Advocacy

Southface is a longtime supporter of clean energy policies, from community-based efforts to municipal adoption of clean energy solutions and state-level initiatives. Our work includes:

Energy Efficiency for All

Southface is a coalition member and State Lead for Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) Georgia, which advances a racially-centered approach to policy advocacy, program design and strategic community engagement to deliver healthy, safe and efficient affordable housing.

LIFT Solar

Southface is a core partner alongside Groundswell, Elevate Energy and Clean Energy Works in LIFT Solar, a three-year research program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). The goal of the LIFT Solar collaborative is to develop optimal program design and pricing to provide low- and moderate-income families greater access to clean and renewable energy.

Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy

In collaboration with our partners, Southface works to engage and educate local and state policy and decision makers about advancing the clean energy and regenerative economy in the Southeast. Southface legislative and regulatory advocacy focuses on enabling an equitable transition to a low-carbon future and understanding resource efficiency alongside clean energy as fundamental to our shared prosperity.

Sustainable Development Advocacy

Codes and Zoning

By partnering with state and local governments and other nonprofits to engage the community and key stakeholders, Southface is a powerful advocate for the adoption of sustainable development practices. The focus of our work includes high-performance building codes and zoning, as well as development practices that support accessible, healthy and resource-efficient buildings and communities. Initiatives include the City of Decatur High Performance Building Ordinance, the Tiny House Feasibility Study and active participation in the Georgia State Codes Advisory Committee.

In 2019, Southface was chosen by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to provide statewide training and other resources to code officials, contractors and trade groups for the rollout of Georgia’s energy and construction code updates, which took effect on January 1, 2020.

Green Affordable Housing

Southface has long worked in the affordable housing space. We believe focusing on the preservation and creation of healthy, comfortable and efficient affordable housing is critical to sustainable and resilient communities. This means achieving total affordability and high quality of life for those who are striving to maintain both in the face of rampant development and the adverse impacts of climate change. Within this work, Southface participates in the TransFormation Alliance (TFA) and EEFA, while also engaging with housing finance authorities across the Southeast to advance high-performance green building standards in the region. In addition, Southface partnered with the Virginia Center for Housing Research to publish The Impact of Green Affordable Housing.

Resource Efficiency

Southface has long been involved in initiatives that encourage large-scale adoption of resource-efficient practices from our core partner role in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC) to our part in authoring the “Water Audit Guidance for Commercial Buildings,” the first US comprehensive guide to water efficiency measures for commercial buildings.

Southface also helped make history in another partnership with the City of Atlanta – the City Energy Project (CEP), a national initiative to cut energy waste in large buildings and make American cities healthier and more prosperous through energy efficiency. To help building owners through the benchmarking and auditing process, Southface partnered with the City of Atlanta on the centerpiece of the CEP, the Atlanta Commercial Benchmarking Energy Efficiency Ordinance (CBEEO). For technical assistance support in compliance with the CBEEO see here.

Climate-Related Initiatives

Southface works at the state and local level to support climate resilience and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. Our work includes participation in the Georgia Climate Project and the Georgia Climate Research Roadmap, as well as engagement in Drawdown Georgia™. Southface is also a local partner of the City of Atlanta in the American Cities Climate Challenge, an unprecedented opportunity for 25 ambitious cities to significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents.

Resilient Communities

Southface seeks to ensure that economic and environmental benefits are shared equitably and that all people have healthy, affordable and resilient communities in the face of our changing climate and increasing urbanization.


Green Infrastructure Advocacy

By partnering with nonprofits and governmental and academic institutions, Southface supports and informs initiatives on the benefits of green infrastructure and resiliency in Georgia. Through these collaborations, Southface pushes local, regional and state efforts towards improving our watersheds and creating resilient communities through green infrastructure.


Atlanta CREW (Culture-Resilience-Environment-Workforce) is a no-cost green infrastructure (GI) and stormwater management workforce training and implementation program that teaches participants how to install and maintain GI that has been designed with a cultural and artistic vision.

Equity Evaluator

As a TransFormation Alliance member, Southface developed the Equity Evaluator Tool to appropriately contextualize and shape development proposals with a more focused lens on equity, community needs and affordability. The Tool is based on a robust analysis of indicators related to area, including median income, job access and walkability. The Tool can be customized to evaluate the specific needs of local communities and neighborhoods, as well as the physical form of development, and appropriate affordability across income levels. A web app version of the Tool will be available in 2020.

Resilience Hubs

Resilience hubs are community facilities that provide an additional layer of resilience for residents before, during and after natural and man-made disasters and emergencies. These facilities meet the resilience needs of the community and often incorporate technologies like solar-plus-storage and rainwater harvesting to ensure they can continue operating even when the power is out.


Case Study

Climate Change and Displacement in U.S. Communities

Climate change is playing a bigger role in determining where and how we live, and is limiting access to and availability of affordable healthy housing, healthy food choices, transportation choices and social networks, which is forcing displacement of individuals and …

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Utility Guide to Tariffed On-Bill Programs

This document guides the reader through resources about on-bill financing, tariffed on-bill programs and the Pay as You Save® PAYS system. An understanding of these resources is necessary for the design and implementation of a successful tariffed on-bill program.

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White Paper

Keeping the Lights On: Energy Efficiency and Community Solar for All Georgians

Many Georgia families struggle with high energy bills in 2018. The Georgia Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) served 140,795 families in need of assistance with their energy bills.

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Resilience Hubs: Equitable Resource Centers That Foster Community and Give Support During Emergencies

During times of natural disaster, an entire network of resources and people must come together to repair and rebuild essential infrastructure that allows for provision of critical services—including medical care, clean water and fresh food—all of which require a reliable …