The Southface Energy Institute, established in Atlanta in 1978, promotes sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities through environmental education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance in Georgia. The institute is concerned specifically with energy efficiency and with minimizing the impact of built structures on natural resources. A nonprofit corporation, Southface each year provides objective, practical information to more than 40,000 people directly and to thousands more through media outreach. The public’s renewed focus on the importance of energy, as well as the environmental challenges facing Georgia, has resulted in record demands for the high-quality instruction and services that Southface provides.
Begun as the volunteer-based Georgia Solar Energy Coalition, the Southface mission has grown to include resource efficiency, indoor air quality, alternative transportation, land-use planning, water conservation, and more. The institute was founded by Dennis Creech, the current executive director, and Jeff Tiller.
Southface has received awards for excellence from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; American Institute of Architects; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers; and many community organizations. Its work has been featured in both regional and national media, as well as in international publications. The quarterly Southface Journal of Sustainable Building provides practical, objective information.
Southface formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other leaders in the energy and environmental fields to construct the Southface Energy and Environmental Resource Center, which opened in 1996. This state-of-the-art facility demonstrates more than 100 environmental technologies and serves as a training center for building professionals, energy and environmental leaders, the media, and the public. Approximately twenty-five staff members are housed at the center in Atlanta.
Southface regularly conducts educational programs for audiences ranging from energy and building professionals to school-age children. The Southface Homebuilding School has provided comprehensive training to owner-builders and others involved in the construction field. This program teaches all aspects of quality construction, energy efficiency, and “green” (sustainable) building and is offered regularly at Southface.
In addition, Southface promotes practical living through various manuals and guides that are published on its Web site. These publications include “Sustainable Design, Construction, and Land Development Guidelines for the Southeast,” which provides basic information on better land-use techniques, and “Home Energy Projects—An Energy Conservation Guide for Do-It-Yourselfers,” which outlines twenty-five energy conservation projects.
In 1998 Southface hosted its inaugural Greenprints: Sustainable Communities by Design conference, which continues to be held annually in Atlanta. This event was created to link green building technologies with the principles of smart growth and open space preservation, as well as to educate design and construction professionals on all aspects of the ecology of the built environment.
Southface, in association with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, has developed EarthCraft House, a residential, green building program. EarthCraft homes are healthy, durable, and resource efficient. The homes’ reduction in energy and water waste is profitable for builders and saves consumers money.
Southface seeks to improve housing for low-income families by providing technical assistance to various efforts. Recent accomplishments include successful projects with Habitat for Humanity, East Lake Commons Co-Housing EcoVillage, Catawba Indian Nation Green Earth, and the Historic District Development Corporation, which supports the preservation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District in Atlanta.
Southface also educates tomorrow’s leaders through internship and fellowship programs. More than 120 young people from around the world have joined Southface staff and volunteers in meaningful and challenging work.