Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations must find creative ways to free up available dollars. Here in Sarasota County, an innovative sustainability initiative is helping a growing number of nonprofits convert energy-efficiency upgrades into more dollars for programs and services.
Partners for Green Places was launched last fall to inspire local organizations to implement sustainability measures through energy- and water-efficiency improvements. Recently, the initiative awarded $161,379 in matching funds to help 10 environmental and human service agencies make cost-saving improvements to their facilities:
• Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
• Forty Carrots Family Center
• Girls Inc. of Sarasota County
• Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center
• Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
• Mothers Helping Mothers
• Project 180
• Save Our Seabirds
• Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida
The upgrades will help conserve natural resources while freeing up funds that the nonprofits can redirect to their missions.
“On top of the financial savings, these collective actions help advance energy efficiency and create a more sustainable community,” Lee Hayes Byron, Director for Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability, one of the initiative’s founding partners. “We hope to inspire businesses, residents, and other nonprofits in Florida to take action through sustainability measures.”
All participating organizations received energy audits to identify areas of opportunity in their energy and water usage and utility costs. Recommended improvements include LED lighting and occupancy sensors; energy-efficient A/C systems; programmable thermostats; solar window film; smart power strips; metered faucets, water tanks, and heaters; and reflective roof shingles.
In addition to the efficiency projects, six of the nonprofits also signed up for FPL SolarTogether. They will reduce their impact on the environment by lowering their energy and water consumption, while also sourcing part of their energy from a clean, renewable source.
Last year, Children First, Harvest House, and Historic Spanish Point served as the first three pilot organizations for the initiative. They began with $75,000 in funding for their efficiency upgrades. Harvest House reports already saving $600 a month on utility bills.
“This initiative starts by showing nonprofits and their donors that not only is it possible to invest in sustainability, but those investments can also free up more funding to support their core missions,” says Mark Pritchett, President | CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
Partners for Green Places was created through a cross-sector collaboration including Gulf Coast, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, City of Sarasota, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, DreamLarge, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability, and William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. The founding partners invite other organizations to get involved. To learn more, visit PartnersforGreenPlaces.org/get-involved.