I am excited to announce that LifeWorks Sooch Foundation Youth and Family Resource Center has been awarded 5 Star Green Building status from Austin Energy – the highest possible standing and only the fourth building in Austin to achieve it.
This designation reflects our commitment to both environmental and fiscal responsibility. It also offers hope and a great lesson around green building for the nonprofit community. As a sector, we face obvious financial constraints, but we often let that prematurely limit our creativity.
Developing the Sooch Center involved a continual conversation and negotiation around our functional, design and environmental goals. With the best minds around the table – including Miro Rivera, American Campus Communities, SpawGlass, dedicated Board and staff members– these conversations were often heated but never settled for the idea that there was anything we COULDN’T do.
More often, we agreed that some things would have to come before others, and that we’d just have to go out and find the right partnerships to make them all happen.
With Meridian Solar and Austin Energy, we found a way to produce 80% of the power for the 31,000 square foot building and (because we did not have the money to purchase) to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible for the organization.
While we are not the first nonprofit to implement solar arrays, we are the first in Austin to take advantage of this leasing arrangement.
Others are doing the same. I hope more do. I also hope that it serves as a larger reminder that the greatest resource for the nonprofit community in Austin is the incredible wealth of irreverent creativity that sees “we can’t afford it” as a call to action rather than an excuse to do less than we should.