In this feature, we hear from Stacy Mehlhoff, Executive Director of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, to learn more about how Sun Club helps nonprofits implement sustainability projects and reduce operating costs through grant funding.
What do you like best about your job?
There is a lot to like about working for a nonprofit that has the ability to positively impact the environment while helping other nonprofits reduce operating costs. The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a nonprofit that funds sustainability solutions for other nonprofits. Said another way, it helps nonprofits install a solar array, capture rain water, or purchase an electric vehicle. Sun Club providing the funding for these projects results in double the benefits: environmentally conscious projects are introduced to the community and nonprofits save money to redirect to their mission.
My favorite part of the job is when these impacts come together and spotlight the true impact of a nonprofit’s work. A solar installation, say at a food bank, will result in fewer pounds of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, but will also result in a lower electricity bill. When that electricity bill savings is turned into a quantifiable number of additional meals that the food bank can serve, that’s what is best about this job.
An added bonus is getting to meet and form lasting relationships with the people at each nonprofit who understand the needs of their community better than anyone. Sun Club has had the pleasure of working with Venture Outdoors, Millvale Community Library, Humane Animal Rescue, Tree Pittsburgh, Frick Environmental Center and the soon-to-be Hilltop Urban Farm.
As you’ve talked with nonprofits about sustainability over the years, in what ways (if any) have you seen their perceptions or questions change?
In 2002, when the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club began, its mission was to fund solar projects exclusively. Since that time, its mission has expanded to include a wide array of sustainability solutions. That now includes renewable energy in any form, energy efficiency upgrades, sustainable agriculture, clean transportation, resource conservation and education.
The past few years have brought a surge of agriculture and food equity related projects. We’ve worked with schools, neighborhoods, and hospitals to install aquaponic, hydroponic, and urban farms that improve fresh food access for all, while requiring fewer resources than traditional growing methods.
We’re always looking for the next grant recipient. If a nonprofit that is important to you is interested in applying for a grant to fund a sustainability project, please encourage them to learn more or apply at gmesunclub.org. I can also be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.537.5609.
And finally, to bring more Sun Club projects to Pittsburgh, consider choosing Green Mountain Energy to power your home. On behalf of each customer, Green Mountain Energy makes a donation to fund Sun Club projects in your community.
[Editor’s Note: Green Mountain Energy is a Platinum sponsor of I Am Sustainable Pittsburgh.]