SOURCE: Neighborworks America

May 05, 2009 11:45 ET

NeighborWorks America Releases New 'How-To' Guide to Green a Non-Profit

Seven Reasons to "Go Green" to Compete and to Better Serve Communities

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) - NeighborWorks America today released a comprehensive sustainability guide to help community development corporations and other non-profits to evaluate and improve the environmental and sustainable footprint of their organizations, or in short, "Go Green." Produced in association with Strategic Sustainability Consulting, Herndon, VA, the easy-to-read, straight-forward guide, "Greening Your Non-Profit from the Inside Out: A NeighborWorks Guide for Community Development Organizations" is built off of 22 actual sustainability audits of nonprofit organizations and uses these examples to tailor a "Go Green" guide for non-profit organizations. The practical, hands-on guide is available for free download at www.nw.org/green.

The proven benefit of following the guidance of "Greening Your Non-Profit" can be seen in the results of some of those 22 organizations that were part of the case study. Each is developing an action plan and taking immediate steps to reduce their environmental impact.

For example, the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund, Inc., (NCALL) based in Delaware looked into using solar energy to power its office space. By setting a goal to reduce its use of traditional energy sources, developing a financing plan to purchase and install the photovoltaic panels, NCALL was able to complete a project that enabled the non-profit to reduce its non-renewable energy usage at its headquarters site by seventy percent.

"We have a monitor in our lobby that shows daily and cumulative kilowatt hour generation, monetary savings, and reduction in carbon footprint as well as other charts and graphs. We are hoping to transfer this technology to our multi-family housing and first-time homebuyer work," said Joe L. Meyer, NCALL Executive Director.

Seven Business Reasons for Going Green

"Greening Your Non-Profit" gives seven strong business reasons that a non-profit organization should "go green."

1.   Reduce Operating Costs
2.   Provide a Healthier Work Environment
3.   Attract and Retain the Best Employees
4.   Build Integrity
5.   Access New Capital
6.   Plan for the Future
7.   People Expect it and Respect It

"By developing and implementing a sustainability strategy to 'green', an organization provides benefits across the enterprise," said Thomas P. Deyo, senior advisor for green strategies at NeighborWorks® America. "Whether an organization takes the step to reduce waste, to improve energy efficiency, to address employee commuting, or to create a healthier work environment, creating a greener organization produces tangible, bottom line results for the enterprise and for the community."

"Greening Your Non-Profit" provides clear direction for non-profit organizations to assess their sustainability status, to identify stages of changes with resulting benefits, and how to expand initial action more broadly across the organization. "Greening Your Non-Profit" provides valuable evaluation tools, action checklists and resources for further exploration to help non-profits manage through this important strategic business planning effort.

"It is all about recognizing you need to do this and to take the initial steps to learn where you are as a green organization," explained Deyo. "You can do that by hiring a certified green auditor or sustainability consultant, or using the checklist in the guide. From there, it is about setting the appropriate action plan for the shade of green you want to achieve, motivating employees, and changing habits."

Often, the starting with the simplest changes can lead to enormous benefits. Consider the efforts at Primavera Foundation, a NeighborWorks affiliate in Tucson, AZ. With all of its operations based in the sun-drenched Arizona landscape, it's natural to assume that its go-green strategy would take advantage of solar power, but a green audit of its business operations revealed another action step.

"We organized a Green Team of five and the team used the results of green audit to make a surprising recommendation," said Peggy Hutchison, executive director of The Primavera Foundation, Inc. "We discovered that by reducing the amount of paper used by the organization could have the same beneficial effect on our carbon footprint as getting solar panels at our Training Center!"

"Both of these organizations took advantage of the process outlined in 'Greening Your Non-Profit' and came up with two solutions to reducing their carbon footprints -- one involved using state of the art technology, while the other meant rethinking the way everyday business is done," explained Deyo.

"We were delighted when NeighborWorks asked us to help write this guide," said Jennifer Woofter, president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting. "In working with more than two dozen community development organizations over the last year, our green auditors gathered a set of common challenges that every non-profit faces. We looked at their carbon footprints, what their employees thought about "going green", investigated their facilities, and made recommendations for becoming more eco-friendly. Turning that collected information into a guidebook for all non-profits was a natural way to carry that knowledge forward to a wider audience."

About NeighborWorks® America

NeighborWorks® America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. Since 1991, we have assisted nearly 1.2 million low- to moderate-income families with their housing needs. Much of our success is achieved through our support of the NeighborWorks network -- more than 230 community development organizations working in more than 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $15 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

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