August 26, 2020 | Business Observer
A recent Sarasota-based virtual event focused on how organizations can save money by implementing sustainability-related changes, from reducing water use to installing more efficient air conditioning units.
The event was part of the Partners for Green Places program, a collaboration between Sarasota County Sustainability, City of Sarasota Sustainability, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Selby Foundation. (Business Observer Managing Editor Mark Gordon moderated the virtual event.)
Partners for Green Places provided grants to area nonprofits to reduce operational costs by upgrading energy and water systems. Sarasota-based Children First, a nonprofit that serves vulnerable children, was a pilot in the program. Children First looked at its energy bills and cost-per-square-foot for utilities and decided to focus on its facility in North Port, south Sarasota County. An energy audit examined the building, and a consultant developed an energy roadmap identifying potential investments that could result in savings.
Based on the roadmap, Children First replaced inefficient air conditioning units. The impact was big. “We saved 37% in electrical costs because of the AC units,” Children First President and CEO Philip Tavill said during the Zoom-based virtual event. “That’s really significant. We’re hugely pleased with being able to knock over a third off our electric bills.”
The nonprofit also added weather stripping on doors, put aerators on water faucets and more. Children First used the roadmap to assess how it could lower operating costs at other facilities, too. Knowing which options were low-cost, high-reward or high-cost, high-reward helped the organization develop a multi-year capital budget.
Tavill says the investments allow Children First to support its mission more fully, particularly over the long term. With every dollar saved through energy efficiencies, the organization can focus more on serving its clients.