Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that his Cleaner Greener Lincoln initiative is developing a program to help local nonprofit agencies improve the energy efficiency of their facilities and save operating expenses. An energy audit of 13 agencies showed that a one-time investment in the agencies' buildings could reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, and the investment would pay for itself in only about five years.
"We have set out to demonstrate to nonprofits, their boards and the philanthropic community that improving the energy efficiency of buildings can help their bottom line, giving them the resources they need to provide important services to the community," said Mayor Beutler. "These funds would stay in the coffers of the nonprofit agencies to support operations instead of leaking out their doors and windows."
Cleaner Greener Lincoln received federal stimulus funds through an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to start the project. The Human Services Federation helped identify agencies that owned their property and were interested in receiving an energy audit by Energy Pioneer Solutions. The audits identified simple and cost-effective steps the agencies could take to save money, including upgraded lighting systems, improved insulation, heating and cooling modifications, programmable thermostats and energy management training and programs.
The City will use $100,000 in stimulus funds to leverage additional donor and private sector funds to make the recommended facility upgrades and save the agencies thousands of dollars in the future. The Lincoln Electric System's "Sustainable Energy Program" also will provide significant assistance to each nonprofit agency, especially through the commercial and industrial lighting retrofit credits available through the end of 2010.
The Lincoln Community Foundation (LCF) also strongly supports the program. "The Lincoln Community Foundation looks forward to exploring how it can provide private philanthropic support this program," said Sarah Peetz, LCF Vice-President for Community Outreach. "We hear daily about the struggles by local nonprofits to continue to deliver programs and services in the face of today's recession. Using public and private dollars to directly lower operating costs will give these nonprofits some room to continue to deliver the programs that mean so much to Lincoln's children, families and other vulnerable populations."
Agencies participating in the project are the Center for People in Need, Child Guidance Center, Family Service of Lincoln, the Food Bank of Lincoln, Friendship Home, Good Neighbor Community Center, Houses of Hope, the Lincoln Medical Education Partnership, Lux Center for the Arts, the Malone Community Center, the Salvation Army, St. Monica's Behavioral Health Services for Women and Voices of Hope.
More information on Cleaner Greener Lincoln is available at green.lincoln.ne.gov.
Mary Barry-Magsamen, Executive Director of St. Monica's Behavioral Health Services for Women -
"Our job as a nonprofit is to provide a service to the community, and when energy costs keep going up, it's hard to keep programs going. Any way we can reduce these overhead costs leads to better and more services for our clients. We are pleased that the City of Lincoln has stepped forward to help us and others realize these energy savings."
Marcee Metzger, Executive Director of Voices for Hope, which provides crisis intervention, advocacy and prevention services for domestic violence, sexual assault and incest victims -
"We are a very thrifty organization, and we carefully watch our energy use. Sometimes, though, that has meant we're cold and uncomfortable. If we can reduce our energy costs and improve the comfort of our clients and staff, we're all for it. This program will go a long way to helping us do just that."
Al Linderman MD, President/CEO Lincoln Medical Education Partnership -
"Cleaner Greener Lincoln is providing a tremendous opportunity for the Lincoln Medical Education Partnership to reduce energy costs at a time when nonprofits like ours need it most. Our Partnership provides healthcare and related services to a large portion of Lincoln's underserved citizens. This program will allow us to update our existing buildings and make them cleaner and more energy efficient."