Children First creating sustainable future through ‘Green’ partnership

Solar energy and sustainable practices are setting records across America as demand for renewable resources continues to grow. As part of an ongoing effort in environmental stewardship for Sarasota County, Children First is working to create a more sustainable future through a collaboration with Partners for Green Places.

Launched in October 2019 to encourage organizations and businesses to commit to energy efficiency and sustainability, Children First was selected as one of three nonprofit organizations to pilot the initiative.

After already undertaking several sustainability efforts, including solar hot water heaters and energy-efficient insulation, PGP created further opportunity for Children First to strengthen its environmental impact by assisting the agency in conducting a detailed energy audit.

“Based on our organization’s previous efficiency improvements, the PGP team decided to audit our North Port campus”, Children First CEO Philip Tavill said. “The structure was built in 2007 and in need of substantial upgrades. After receiving an energy assessment and implementing new efficient practices, our North Port campus has seen a 20-25% reduction in energy usage, as well as a 40% reduction in water usage. This helped us to realize Children First’s full potential in becoming a catalyst for sustainable change in our community”.

Net-zero overall goal

In September, Children First celebrated the installation of new solar panels at the agency’s main campus in Sarasota. The 117.26 kW solar PV system was completed by Brilliant Harvest and is on track to produce 95% of the electricity required in its first year. With a net savings of $6,000 or more, with an overall goal of becoming net-zero for all electricity consumption.

Current and future Children First sustainability projects include implementation of LED lighting at all 15 facilities; upgrading all HVAC units to high efficiency heat pumps with programmable thermostats; investing in resource efficiency to promote conservation throughout the organization; and a future solar photovoltaic system installed at other locations, including North Port.

“With nearly 90% of our families living below the Federal Poverty Level [$21,960 for a family of three], these investments from our community partners could not come at a more critical juncture”, Tavill said. “Every efficiency translates into more support for our mission, which means a higher level of service for more children and families. The future looks brighter than ever before as we continue to benefit from ‘bringing sunshine’ to Children First through sustainable energy practices”.

Partners key to success

Partners for Green Places include the city of Sarasota and Sarasota County, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The pilot program, seeded by the Partners for Places matching grant program, a joint project of The Funders’ Network and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, grew to include the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and Community Foundation of Sarasota County. For more information, visit partnersforgreenplaces.org.

Also, DreamLarge made a key investment in establishing a strategy, brand, and platform to showcase the partnership between philanthropy and sustainability.

At eSmart Recycling, we are also committed to supporting a sustainable future for our planet Earth. That’s why we recycle computers and use part of the proceeds to give back in the form of computers to donate to underprivileged children and families. In this way, we ensure a more competitive future for students and the workforce.

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