Eight Chapters, Thousands of Members, One Voice

USGBC Sungevity PS_Tag

Project Sunshine: Sungevity Passes $1.5M Raise

USGBC Sungevity PS_TagUSGBC California and the eight California Chapters are relatively new to the Sungevity partnership, but we are starting to see results. Here’s a report of their milestone achievement with us and other NGOs.

From The Huffington Post  | By

Sungevity, Inc., a company created to allow homeowners to design their own solar power systems through an online process, announced Wednesday that they had reached a key milestone with their nonprofit partners.

The company’s partnership program, Sungevity.org, works with nonprofit organizations to raise money for their causes while encouraging their members to choose Sungevity for their solar installations. Sungevity has now donated more than $1.5 million to nonprofits ranging from the Sierra Club and Save the Frogs to schools and science centers. To celebrate reaching this milestone, the company will announce Wednesday that it is making a $50,000 donation to their local food bank in California, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and adding them as a partner nonprofit. The ACCFB serves a sixth of Alameda County residents and distributes 450,000 meals worth of food every week.

For each customer that installs solar with Sungevity, the company will donate to their nonprofit of choice. “Every home that we get to go solar, Sungevity gives us $750 back,” said Sierra Club Chief of Staff Jesse Simons said in a Sungevity.org promotional video. “This has been a great revenue-generating tool for the Sierra Club.”

Sungevity.org works with 115 participating nonprofits, and estimates that the program has helped offset 322,436 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions — equivalent to planting more than 7.5 million trees. The company touts the program as more than just a fundraising tool for nonprofits, but a way for them to help their members help the environment.

“Going solar through the program gives non-profit partners a personal action to promote to their supporters, empowering them to take positive action that helps stymie climate change while simultaneously helping to raise funds for their specific cause,” Renu Mathias, Sungevity’s director of affinity marketing, told the Huffington Post.

The solar industry in the United States is growing as costs continue to fall, and 2013 was a record year for new photovoltaic installations. SungeSolar Fundraisingvity offers systems that homeowners can purchase outright and a residential solar lease program, an arrangement in which a third party owns the panels and the homeowner pays a lease or simply buys the energy from the panel owners. Solar leasing is a growing trend as a way to finance solar without bearing all the upfront costs of buying and maintaining equipment. Sungevity believes that solar will continue to grow through their “solar social” strategy. “Ultimately, solar customers will help to rapidly scale solar’s uptake,” Mathias told HuffPost.

Sungevity is one of many small businesses working social impact into their mission. Many states are now allowing companies to incorporate as a “benefit corporation,” or B Corps, which formalizes their commitment to social impact in addition to profit. B Lab, a nonprofit, has certified more than 900 companies, including Sungevity. These companies, according to the B Corps website, are dedicated to using “the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.”

“The $1.5 million we have generated for nonprofit organizations through this initiative underscores how solar can be a force for social change beyond the immediate environmental benefits of lowering the collective carbon footprint,” said Sungevity founder and CEO Andrew Birch in a press release.

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Pacific Regional Summit a Great Big Gaucho Hit

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There is always something special about a gathering of the USGBC tribe, and this past weekend’s Pacific Region Summit was no exception. In fact, it was exceptional. Chapter leaders from California, Nevada and Hawaii, met with each other and Doug Widener and Ryan Snow of USGBC’s Community and addressed the subject of Chapter rejuvenation, sharing successes (NCC’s Building Health Initiative, San Diego’s GAP program, C4’s Smart Trailer and Inland Empire’s Workforce Training Program) and digging into areas needing attention (volunteer burnout, member engagement, innovative fundraising strategies).

After an ice-breaking round of Pecha Kucha presentations Friday night, attendees were treated by a talk by Patagonia’s “Chief Story Teller” Vincent Jackson on sustaining and embedding moral responsibility throughout a business. The full Saturday program on the wonderful Woodmont College campus featured Host/MC Paul Poirier highlighting Santa Barbara’s environmental history from the great oil spill onward, USGBC leader extraordinaire Kevin Hydes keynote relating twenty years of USGBC to present day issues, greetings from Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and a multi-threaded USGBC California advocacy briefing.

With occasional breaks to enjoy the great weather, Saturday’s session continued with a number of presentations and  involved group discussion around more fully realizing USGBC’s transformative mission and vision. Safe to say that all who attended (and all were sad that organizers Lorraine Alexander and  Marc Costa were called away to other coasts, countries and circumstances) came away with much warmth…for the people “on the phone” they are aligned with throughout the Pacific and the country, from the spectacular weather and from the renewed enthusiasm that comes from added perspective and personal interaction with so many stellar people.

USGBC Member Survey 2014

Make Your Voice Heard: It’s Member Survey Time!

USGBC Member Survey 2014 With a new year comes new challenges.  2013 saw the passage of two USGBC California-sponsored initiatives (AB 127 & AB 341), the continuation of other efforts like Prop 39,  CO2toEE and AB 758, and the start of movement in other focus areas like deep water reductions, healthier materials and “last mile” energy code enforcement. As we progress in these efforts, we need your help, encouragement and active involvement. Completing this survey is a great first step towards beginning a dialogue towards transforming the built environment. We want to know what you issues you care about, what we should be focusing our efforts on, and what kind of geographic distribution our advocates occupy. Go to www.tinyurl.com/membervoice to make your voice heard.