Goodwill Industries of Central Florida (Orlando) recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for its “Solar for Good” initiative aimed at generating sustainable energy by installing rooftop arrays at nine of the nonprofit’s locations. The nonprofit expects to save nearly $5.5 million – and divert nearly 59,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – over the next 25 years through the program.
The Orlando Goodwill spends more than $750,000 annually on energy at its retail stores, job connection centers and donation xpress locations in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Volusia and Brevard counties. Defraying these costs will allow the agency to provide job training and placement programs to an estimated 42,000 more central Floridians over the next 25 years. As part of Goodwill’s Made in America initiative, the solar arrays will be manufactured in the United States.
In April 2014, Goodwill obtained a grant from Duke Energy to fund its first solar project – a 14,000-square-foot rooftop array on Goodwill’s Waterford Lakes Retail Store in east Orlando. Since then, the array has supplied approximately 76 percent of the store’s total energy.
To lead all its energy conservation programs, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida recently hired Robert McLaughlin as its first chief sustainability officer. An eco-entrepreneur with roots in Central Florida, McLaughlin pioneered sustainable agriculture efforts in Latin America and California prior to joining Goodwill.
“Goodwill has established a long history of socially responsible practices by selling donated items to fund job opportunities for people in need,” said McLaughlin. “Becoming more eco-friendly is a natural next step, and I’m proud to serve the community through this effort.”
“Robert’s leadership will be invaluable as Goodwill expands our solar initiative,” said Bill Oakley, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. “We’ve seen promising results at our Waterford Lakes location – and with our community’s support, Solar for Good will help us reach more individuals with disabilities, limited work history and other barriers to employment.”
The Goodwill is seeking community support for the Solar for Good program during its fundraising phase. You can become a Champion of Solar by visiting http://www.championsofsolar.org.