Walking the Talk
A foundation that offers grants for green building decides
stewardship begins at home.
By Adam Regn Arvidson, ASLA
Photo by Andrea Cooper, ASLA
The newly redesigned headquarters of The Kresge Foundation
is tiny, insignificant almost, but impossible to miss. It is a vegetated square
surrounded by the asphalt parking lots, corporate wealth, and manicured
lawn-and-spruce landscapes of a Detroit suburb. It is a stark three-acre
contrast in prairie grass and permeable paving. It is wildly out of place here,
but its appearance is a key aspect of Kresge’s new Green Initiative grant
program, which is meant to create and reward awareness of sustainable design
practices. As such, its reach is expansive.
“The Kresge Foundation has long supported facility grants to
nonprofits that are building,” says Elizabeth Sullivan, Kresge’s senior vice
president for programs. “Over time, we began to ask the question: What is the
impact of green building?” Kresge has supported nonprofits since 1924. But it
was not until the early 2000s that sustainability came into the discussion. At
that time, Kresge launched an in-depth planning process meant to reassess its
mission while considering more environmental stewardship.
The Green Initiative was launched in 2003. It included education:
Kresge has hosted workshops in 10 cities for nonprofits actively engaged in
facility planning. In addition, planning grants were offered to organizations
in the early stages of their projects, and a bonus grant program provided extra
money to planning grant recipients who succeeded in obtaining Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This approach is meant to
assist (nudge, perhaps) nonprofits at every stage of their capital projects.
So far, the planning grants program has given out $6 million
to 102 grantees in 3 years. The bonus grant program (now discontinued because
nearly every planning grantee gets LEED) gave out $7.2 million to 42 grantees.
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