Dennis Creech of Southface receiving top Hanley award on Wednesday

By Maria Saporta

The founder and executive director of Southface — Dennis Creech — is receiving a prestigious award for his contributions to environmentally-friendly housing.

Creech is the 2013 winner of the Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing — an award that comes with a $50,000 prize.

The award is considered to be the industry’s premier award that recognizes achievements in environmental building, and it is sponsored by the Hanley Foundation, Hanley Wood and ECOHOME and BUILDER magazines.

“Dennis Creech’s legacy of education and collaboration showcases true leadership in sustainable housing,” said Michael Hanley, founder of the Hanley Award. “His dedication to high-performance housing makes it a great pleasure to name him as the 2013 recipient of the Hanley Award.”

Creech has been part of the sustainability movement for nearly four decades. He co-founded Southface in 1978, which has helped launch a host of green building efforts, including EarthCraft homes.

“Dennis’s biggest accomplishment is in the sheer amount of people in the industry he’s touched and improved their skills and knowledge and their way of thinking about green building,” said Sam Rashkin, the 2012 Hanley Award winner and a Hanley Award judge for this year, in a statement.

Creech has found a way to bring diverse groups together by focusing on areas of consensus — primarily on practical, economically sensible solutions.

“Why create an extra hurdle if I can talk instead about how we need to save energy because it is going to create jobs, save money, strengthen our local economy, and save water,” Creech said. “If I can get them on those points, and I lose them on climate change, why lead with climate change?”

Creech recently worked to build consensus for adding performance testing to Georgia’s residential codes. He saw it as a way to make sure that new and remodeled homes are as airtight as possible, and he was able to overcome some early industry opposition.

The EarthCraft program began in 1999 by Southface and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. The program is dedicated to the construction and renovation of homes and buildings that are uniquely suited to Southeast climate conditions with such factors as high heat, humidity and large temperature swings. As of June 30, 2013, EarthCraft had certified more than 27,000 homes.

The Hanley Award will be presented to Creech at the annual dinner in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 4. There also will be an Atlanta reception to honor Creech for receiving the award later this month. To learn more about the award, please click here.

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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