In 2021, UUCA garnered two matching grants of $60,000 each from Southface Energy Institute’s GoodUse Program, which awards grants to nonprofits around the country to help them pay for green building projects. UUCA is using its grants for upgraded green measures as we renovate our Project Phoenix building. 

During the six months after announcing our Grant 1 award in March 2021, Southface’s technical team reviewed and analyzed UUCA architectural and engineering plans, requested more information, and made suggestions for enhanced green options. UUCA met with Southface to review new green options and consulted with our construction team to determine feasibility and costs of options. Ultimately, we made decisions based on the energy efficiency technologies we could actually get our hands on, along with a cost-benefit perspective. 

In September 2021, we signed a grant agreement with Southface for implementing a Grant 1 plan that had changed several times due to supply chain issues. We also discussed other green measures in the works that might qualify for potential additional grants.

Finally, in October we received our first $60,000 disbursement for Grant 1. This money helped fund energy efficient LED lighting installed throughout the buildings and a super efficient all-electric Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and cooling system. The VRF system allows UUCA to control temperatures in individual rooms so that each is comfortable but is turned off when not needed, thus saving both energy and money. 

UUCA’s Grant 2 award was announced in November and is helping fund wall insulation in the classroom building and spray foam insulation in the roof of both buildings at a rating well above that required by DeKalb County. Spray foam insulation has an additional benefit in that it helps prevent air loss through gaps that can come with some other types of insulation, which means that more conditioned air stays inside our building. Grant 2 also includes installation of a water fountain with bottle fill stations to more easily refill containers we bring from home so we reduce single-use plastic bottle use on-the-go and at UUCA.

In January 2022, the grant team met at the build site with Southface GoodUse staff for a hard hat walk-through of the building. The tour enabled the Southface engineer to inspect the insulation before drywall was fully applied to verify that the installation was done properly and to view construction of the other green measures in progress.

The grant team applied for a third and final grant at the end of February 2022. Hopefully by May, UUCA will hear more good news about getting another $60,000. If awarded, Grant 3 will go toward Energy Star windows rated especially for Georgia‘s climate as recommended by Southface, along with an air sealing front entrance vestibule. 

All of these green measures will help UUCA reduce the energy needed to heat, cool, light, and enjoy our building. They will help keep cool air inside and warm air outside in the summer, and the opposite in the winter, reducing our need for electricity and the fossil fuels that Georgia Power uses to make that electricity. 

Once our new building is complete and open, UUCA will monitor and submit our energy use via Energy Star Portfolio Manager so we can track our energy use and emissions data. 

GoodUse provides technical assistance and funding in the form of matching grants to nonprofits to assist them with resource efficiency upgrades to their facilities. These upgrades save the nonprofit valuable funds on utility bills that can be reallocated into its mission. Information about GoodUse can be found here.