The payoffs from the Partners for Green Places collaboration continue to grow.
This month, Gulf Coast Community Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to help fund energy- and water-efficiency upgrades at four Sarasota human-service nonprofits. The Gulf Coast grant leveraged $45,000 in funding available from the Partners for Green Places initiative, plus another $30,000 in contributions pledged by the nonprofits as their “skin in the game.” The result: $100,000 will be invested in smart sustainability enhancements like HVAC and lighting upgrades—upgrades that could pay back these agencies multiple times over in the coming years.
Partnering for More Green
The original concept of Partners for Green Places, launched in 2019, was to identify and help fund efficiency projects at local environmental and human-service nonprofits. By implementing low-barrier, high-return upgrades, the agencies could lower their operating costs. The money they saved on energy and water bills could be redirected to their core programs and services. All the while, they'd be modeling the environmental and economic benefits of relatively easy-to-make changes for their visitors, clients, and partners.
As Philip Tavill, executive director of Children First, one of three organizations to pilot the concept, put it: “It’s a win for savings, a win for the environment, and a win for mission.” And the numbers bear it out: Children First has seen a 20%-25% reduction in its energy usage and around 40% in water usage at its North Port facility.
The program's process involves energy audits to identify opportunities for efficiencies and matching funds to execute priority projects. Following the pilot phase, which also included Harvest House and Historic Spanish Point (prior to its merger with Selby Gardens), 10 more nonprofits participated last year. Meanwhile, the potential demonstrated through the pilot phase inspired other funders and partners to join and expand the effort.
Sustaining the Momentum
With about $45,000 remaining after all of the “Phase 1” projects were completed, the Partners saw an opportunity to extend the initiative’s impact right now.
Additional, high-quality projects already identified at four of the participating agencies were estimated to cost about $100,000. So, with Gulf Coast’s additional investment of $25,000 on top of $45,000 still in reserve, there is a pool of $70,000 that will be matched with $30,000 chipped in by the four agencies.
The participating organizations in this latest round of green upgrades are:
► Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center, which will improve insulation, upgrade HVAC units, and install WiFi programmable thermostats
► Forty Carrots Family Center, which also will upgrade HVAC units and thermostats
► Harvest House, which will make LED lighting upgrades and install room-sensor switched, upgrade thermostats to WiFi programmable, seal ductwork, and install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators
► Children First, which will upgrade lighting and switches, upgrade thermostats, and install “low emissivity” (low-E) window film
“On top of the financial savings, these collective actions help advance energy efficiency and create a more sustainable community,” said Lee Hayes Byron, Director for Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability, one of the Partners for Green Places. “Our hope is to inspire businesses, residents, and nonprofits in Florida to also take action through sustainable measures.”