Past recipients

Learn about the initiatives from our past Elaina’s Sustainability Fund grant recipients

The purpose of Elaina’s Sustainability Fund is to encourage innovation or adoption of sustainability and occupant wellness initiatives that impact the buildings where we live, work, shop, and play. Our recipients are doing work around the globe to make their communities, homes, and businesses more sustainable, and foster happy and healthy living. Read about the projects our recipients are going to use their funds for below.

2022 recipients

Innovate: EcoRise (Austin, TX)

EcoRise encourages students to propose innovative solutions to environmental issues on or near their school campus. Funding students’ green projects creates memorable, real world learning experiences that inspire students to act as sustainability leaders and creative changemakers in their communities. EcoRise will support 10 student-led projects that make schools and communities more sustainable. It will directly benefit at least 7,000 students and community members via school building improvements, cost savings, and environmental benefits. EcoRise works with schools that typically lack access to grant funding and that are disproportionately impacted by environmental stressors.

Innovate: Demi (Chicago, IL)

Demi is on a mission to make composting the new normal. Composting offers a way for small choices to create big impact, but unfortunately, only 3% of American food waste is composted. Demi partners with residential building managers to provide an integrated solution while also reducing waste management costs, enhancing sustainability goals, and attracting new tenants. Demi provides residents with sleek, attractive, compostable containers with a QR code that tracks the users composted waste. Residents drop off the entire container for compost – so they don't have to empty or wash the bins, and building managers benefit from stackable bins that contain the mess and smell. Demi picks up the containers, scans the QR codes, and allows users to track metrics from the mobile app to gamify and incentivize adoption of composting.

Adopt: Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of Trinidad and Tobago (STAOTT)

STAOTT promotes sustainable tourism and energy efficiency amongst the broader tourism business and is working toward green certification readiness for the tourist accommodation facilities through energy usage assessments and energy efficiency upgrades. Tourism is a large source of revenue for many Caribbean Islands. Increasing investments have been made to strengthen the tourism sector, and currently of 590 accommodations, 10 are global hotel chains that have made upgrades to make their infrastructure greener. Though large chains have made progress, there has been little movement with the remaining small tourism accommodation. Research shows this slow adoption is due to awareness and location.

Innovate: Apple Patch Community (Louisville, KY)

The mission of Apple Patch Community is to provide support to people with disabilities by promoting opportunity, choice, and connection to the community. Apple Patch Community serves over 250 people with developmental and intellectual disabilities by providing day programs, case management, positive behavior support as well as residential services. Apple Patch Community owns 17 homes, which house three residents, and are seamlessly integrated into two neighborhoods. Apple Patch Community is responsible for the maintenance and comfort of these homes. A grant will support a weatherization pilot in one of 17 homes, creating a more comfortable environment and increasing sustainability through air sealing. Following the results and savings earned from the first home, Apple Patch will replicate the project in the rest of the community.  

Adopt: Plant it Forward (Houston, TX)

Plant It Forward’s mission is to empower refugees to develop sustainable farming businesses that produce fresh, healthy food for the local community. The Plant It Forward Food Hub is a 1,000 square foot warehouse that provides physical space for cold storage, triple-wash sinks, work surfaces, and packaging and distribution supplies to help farmers bring their product to market. Existing cold storage facilities are inefficient, unreliable, and offer insufficient temperature control. The grant will support the purchase of two high efficiency walk-in cold storage units. This will reduce the overall energy consumption of the facilities, which helps prevent food waste and embedded energy. The project will also strengthen the ability of small, family farmers to distribute fresh produce to a local delivery radius of 15-250 miles compared to the average 1,500 miles for average supermarket produce. 

2021 recipients

Research: Case Studies in the Implementation of IREM’s Certified Sustainable Property Program

Erin A. Hopkins, PhD, Assistant Professor of Property Management at Virginia Tech University will conduct research and develop case studies around best practices when implementing the IREM® Certified Sustainable Property (CSP) certification. Focusing on multifamily properties that have earned the CSP from around the U.S., the final report aims to provide real estate practitioners and policymakers with a better understanding of IREM’s CSP program and serve as the starting point for more in-depth research down the road linking best practices in the implementation of the CSP certification to existing green building theory.

Download the research report

Innovate: Wastezon Smart Bin

Based in Rwanda, Wastezon is a cleantech startup that is on a mission to building waste-free communities. It’s estimated that more than 90% of waste from African residential estates is disposed of in unregulated dumps or openly burned, threatening human health and the environment. Although organic-dominated waste generates compost, more than 5 million farmers can’t access compost or fertilizer which leads to poor farming and harvesting. Wastezon has created the Wastezon Smart Bin, backed by IoT technology. The Smart Bin offers automated sorting, tracks waste decomposition, sterilizes odor, and provides real-time information to enable effective waste collection services. One household utilizing a Smart Bin can provide 20kg of bio-fertilizers to a farmer monthly. With funding from Elaina’s Sustainability Fund, Wastezon can produce 30 smart bins, creating jobs and supporting farmers in getting the fertilizer they need.

Innovate: The Vietnamese American Community of Austin, Texas (VACAT) education campaign

The Vietnamese American Community of Austin, Texas (VACAT) exists to strengthen the greater Austin community by providing advocacy, social services, and programming that is culturally appropriate to the Vietnamese community. With their Elaina’s Sustainability Fund grant the organization aims to produce educational materials to educate more than 12,000 Vietnamese residents in Austin how to conserve energy in their home with proper household maintenance, while also promoting household recycling.

Adopt: Zion Christian Academy solar panel installation

Zion Christian Academy is a boarding school for school aged children, located in Ogbomosho, Nigeria. It’s a newly renovated property providing students with a full library, two residential facilities, and over 20 classrooms throughout its campus. When in session, the academy can serve up to 200 students. Zion Christian Academy will use its grant to install 25-35 solar panels on the campus, providing a much-needed energy source for school aged disadvantaged youth and faculty at the school. Solar panels will allow running electricity for 24 hours a day, helping to provide basics for students such as running water as well as access to extended learning time, computers, and providing teachers with online resources.

Adopt: Riverview Apartments senior garden beds

Riverview Apartments, Inc. dba Riverview Towers, provides high-quality affordable rental housing and support services to low-income seniors. The community completed a renovation at the end of 2020 to create affordable ADA-accessible apartments and bring building standards in line with green communities standards – such as insulating walls, installing new windows, and upgrading to EnergyStar appliances. As part of the renovation, the community obtained raised garden beds and will use their Elaina’s Sustainability Fund grant to build a community garden for the residents to grow their own herbs, vegetables, and flowers.