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Save money and reduce waste
By Jeri Gill


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By Jeri Gill

These days, most of our attention is focused on not just staying profitable but staying in business. This is also a challenging time for social service organizations and other nonprofits – many of whom operate on thin margins in the best of times.

Sustainable Napa County (SNC), an organization whose mission is to take action for environmental, economic, and social vitality, has launched a pioneering program to help nonprofit and public sector organizations reduce costs by conserving energy and resources. Benefits of the program address each of the areas of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social equity, along with another important element - education.

Saving Money - Economic

Because implementation measures typically result in decreased utility bills, those savings can be re-directed to client services and delivery of programs. As an added benefit, a nonprofit’s sustainability efforts may attract new donors.

Reduced Carbon Impact - Environmental

Through this innovative program, Napa County nonprofits are improving efficiencies of existing building stock, one of our greatest opportunities to lower the community’s carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Improving Health – Social Equity

Through these changes, organizations are creating healthier indoor air quality and productive working environments for employees, volunteers, and clients, promoting the fair distribution of advantages throughout the community.

Raising Awareness – Education

In addition to the benefits listed above, a nonprofit organization, with its high level of personal contact, presents an opportunity for greater information sharing and educating.


How Does the Program Work?

The mechanics are simple. For qualifying agencies, SNC provides a complete facility and operations assessment, coupled with a cultural and behavior assessment for the organization. Based on this assessment, SNC generates a report outlining a set of high, medium, and lower priority recommendations for implementing changes to become more sustainable.

Facility recommendations cover everything from replacing heating and air conditioning systems and installing insulation to using compact fluorescent light bulbs in fixtures and applying film on heat absorbing windows. Recommendations for behavioral changes are outlined to identify the systems, practices, and policies that need to be in place to insure that the changes are a permanent part of the organization’s culture.

SNC allocates grant funding to implement the priority technical and behavioral items, with the agreement that the organization will continue to implement the remaining priority items with the resulting cost savings.

SNC also assists the organization with connecting to existing resources, incentives, and rebates for energy conservation and efficiency (through PG&E, for example). A key piece of the program is measurement and reporting so that nonprofits and SNC can track milestones and organization progress, and use the information in outreach.

Program In Action

One local nonprofit received a grant to modify the water heater and put sun-reflecting film on windows, and staff is working with in-kind donors and volunteers on labor and materials to replace the lawn with native plants that use less water. Another organization is installing a new high-efficiency heating system and double-paned windows thanks to SNC funding.

This model is notable because it bridges the sustainability gap for a critical sector of our community – one that often has the most financial constraints and challenges. While SNC’s program is specifically targeted at improving the stability and prosperity of our nonprofit community, the formula itself is not limited to nonprofits; any business or organization can take advantage of the variety of financial, environmental, and community benefits offered by moving toward sustainability.

Jeri Gill is the CEO of Sustainable Napa County, a nonprofit organization bringing together Napa County business, agriculture, nonprofit, and government entities as part of a comprehensive, collaborative campaign for long term environmental, economic, and social sustainability. For more information on Sustainable Napa County, visit their website at: www.SustainableNapaCounty.org

For information on how your business can assess its energy use and take steps now to lower costs and improve productivity, contact John Heymann at NewLevel Group. 707-255-5555 x105     jheymann@newlevelgroup.com

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