According to GreenNonProfits.org, “as people and corporations around the world become more ‘green’ they in turn expect the non-profits they support to also take proactive steps to protect the environment. The benefits are twofold: the global environment improves as a result of the nonprofit sector taking action; and nonprofits become part of environmental solutions and successfully respond to funder and donor demands.”

Volunteers of America Los Angeles embraced “green thinking” with a major renovation of its Transition House in 2009 –  known as T-House – a landmark 20,000-square-foot homeless service center in downtown Los Angeles. The goal is to not only be environmentally responsible in the construction of this facility, but to also provide an enhanced continuum of services within a place of shelter, dignity and hope for homeless individuals on Skid Row.

“It is an integral part of our philosophy to believe in the inherent good nature of people and their potential to return to independence and self-sufficiency,” said VOALA CEO Bob Pratt. “The concern for our planet’s welfare is part and parcel of that philosophy. Just as a city cares for its residents by building and maintaining community facilities that enhance the overall beauty of the city, we believe that creating a healthy and conscientious environment for our homeless people demonstrates we are investing in their future.”

Volunteers of America is utilizing renewable energy and maximizing new energy efficient technologies to improve human and environmental health wherever possible. Green Building practices and the installation of environmentally friendly materials, and electrical and plumbing systems  have an immediate and measurable impact on the building’s performance. The scope of the project also includes an exterior facelift, enhanced reception area for improved access and assessment; new computer and job resource lab; the expansion of living areas; a major kitchen upgrade; and additional office workspaces.

Going Green now will pay off later, and for nonprofits, this can make all the difference in continuing to provide services for those in need for years to come. “These efforts will substantially reduce our carbon footprint, and ultimately direct our financial resources towards the goal of ending homelessness in Los Angeles,” said Patti Louie, VOALA’s chief financial officer. “Funding for the services we provide has always been tight, and even tighter, in these difficult economic times. With this investment, utility expenses drop immediately, and will offset rising expenses in other areas, allowing long-term viability of this vital downtown resource.”

GREEN features of VOALA T-House include:

• Photovoltaic solar panels power the entire facility, bring DWP credits, and offset 24,000 tons of carbon per year
• Highly insulated, reflective roof uses 40 percent less energy for cooling the building
• High-output mechanical systems, including HVAC, lighting fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs reduce energy consumption
• ‘Low-e’ windows and skylights control heat and add light
• Zero VOC paint and coatings are less harmful to human health and reduce groundwater and ozone depleting contaminants
• Water-conserving toilets reduce water use by 400,000 gallons per year
• Restored hardscape and drought-tolerant landscaping will reduce water consumption

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