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ATL Business Chronicle

Column: Atlanta Community Food Bank gets new solar power system

By Maria Saporta
Friday, April 22, 2011,

Thanks to a unique public-private partnership, the Atlanta Community Food Bank is turning toward the sun for part of its energy needs.

The food bank and Radiance Solar have just completed a state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar array at the nonprofit’s headquarters in West Midtown thanks to a grant from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

“At the end of the day, it did not cost us any money,” said Bill Bolling, founder and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “The key point for us is that this is not a decision we made in isolation. This is a continuation of what we’ve already been doing. It has to do with our philosophy and commitment to be efficient and recycle as much as we can.”

When the organization built its new building, it was the first LEED-certified (a green-energy rating) food bank in the country. It has a composting program, a fuel-efficient distribution network and now a solar system.

The array consists of 174 high-powered solar panels manufactured by Norcross-based Suniva Inc.

The system is expected to produce 58,000 kilowatt hours a year with part feeding into Georgia Power’s electric grid through its Green Energy Buyback program.

“It’s a fantastic success story,” said James Marlow, CEO of Radiance Solar, which submitted the $780,000 GEFA grant application to install solar at the food bank and five other nonprofit organizations. “It’s a great example of Georgia Power, the state, nonprofits and solar working together.”

The new system will be unveiled April 27.

Alzheimer’s funding

It was a family affair at the 36th annual 11Alive’s Community Service Awards ceremony April 19 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The co-hosts of the evening were Mary Rose Taylor and Andrew Taylor, widow and son, respectively, of the late developer Mack Taylor.

The dinner beneficiary was Emory University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, the illness that plagued Mack Taylor until his death in 2008.

Mary Rose Taylor spoke of the limited federal funding that goes toward Alzheimer’s research — $450 million — compared to other diseases; $6 billion for cancer; $4 billion for heart disease and $3 billion for AIDS.

And it is a growing problem as the nation’s population ages, according to Dr. Allan Levey, director of Emory’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

“We have a big fight ahead of us,” he said. “One of eight people over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s, and one of two over the age of 85 will have it. Right now we are in a pretty desperate stage of funding.”

The dinner, which honors 11 community heroes, did raise at least $150,000 for the center. Atlanta media legend Ted Turner received the Boisfeuillet Jones Award, the top award of the night. “I look forward to serving the community even more,” Turner said.

The televised program will be broadcast April 23.

EarthShare event

EarthShare of Georgia held its annual Earth Day Leadership Breakfast April 20 at the Georgia Aquarium where it thanked its top contributors.

For the seventh year in a row, Kaiser Permanente sponsored the event.

“We have a lot in common with EarthShare,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, CEO of the company. “We are both committed to preserving and protecting our communities.”

Madeline Reamy, executive director of EarthShare of Georgia, said its annual workplace campaign raises about $500,000 for 65 environmental organizations, 27 of which are in Georgia. EarthShare of Georgia, which was founded in 1992, has raised more than $4 million in its history.

Genuine directors

At every annual meeting of Genuine Parts, one can always count on Wilton Looney, a retired CEO of the company, to give a positive message to the shareholders.

But Monday, April 18, was an even more special day. Looney celebrated his 92nd birthday the same day as the meeting.

The meeting also marked the last one for retired CEO Larry Prince as a director because he has reached the mandatory retirement age. Like Looney, he will become a director emeritus.

Genuine Parts is special among major public companies because it keeps its retired directors involved.

“We do have a unique situation in that our retired directors stay very involved,” said Thomas Gallagher, Genuine Parts’ chairman and CEO. “We have 14 members of our emeriti group, and only 12 board members. They outnumber us.”

Gallagher said the retired directors attend quarterly meetings and meet with the current board and management. “They are very engaged,” Gallagher said. “Some of the hardest questions come from our emeriti group.”

Hines leadership role

Real estate firm Hines has launched its first annual Atlanta Portfolio Speaker Series to bring top local leaders to share their insights on the local economy and market. Over the next month, Hines will have six breakfast programs looking at the region’s population demographics, its infrastructure and its market conditions.

The first two programs will be April 26 and 27, and will include Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss, Georgia State University President Mark Becker, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead, and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP attorney Steve Labovitz.

“This is a way for our firm to do a little more for the community than leasing space,” said John Heagy, Hines’ senior vice president of the Southeast region. “We want to take a leadership role in what’s happening

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



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