Town Haul Podcast | Episode 19

  • Host: Amy Koonin (Rubicon)
  • Guest: Andrea Pinabell (Southface Energy Institute President)
  • Listen Here! 

Since 1978, the Southface Energy Institute has been a leader in Atlanta’s sustainability scene. Through education, advocacy, research, and public exhibits, Southface helps individuals and businesses lead eco-friendly lives.

On this Town Haul episode, host Amy Koonin chats with Southface’s president Andrew Pinabell on sustainability, faucet aerators, and more.

On what Southface Energy Institute does:

PINABELL: “We were started in 1978 as a grassroots volunteer organization focused on solar energy and that was very unique in the late 70’s. From that we grew into a nonprofit, now celebrating our 40th year this year. We are focused on a whole range of things, from policy all the way to workforce development education. We also do a lot of programs on the implementation side. What our work is really focused on is anything that intersects with the built environment. So energy, water, waste, land and health and then with the underpinning of the built environment in equity kind of at our core.”

On how to describe the circular economy:

PINABELL: “I would describe the circular economy as something like the regenerative economy. It’s something that we’re giving back as much or more than what we’re taking out. Waste and materials are not wasted unless you waste it—unless you put it in the landfill. It’s about upcycling, downcycling, looking for ways to repurpose and reuse.

I also often describe it as the way our grandparents and great-grandparents used to live, in that during the Depression you never threw anything out, you always found another purpose for it. In a lot of ways, that’s a circular economy. We want to make sure that we’re finding opportunities to reuse, look at things in a different way, combine things that we think are waste and looking for opportunities to reuse them.”

On easy ways for homeowners to live sustainably:

PINABELL: “You can go all the way down to programmable thermostats. Energy efficient installation is another real thing to do. Adding low flow toilets, aerators on your faucets, and other things are simple. An aerator has a return on investment after just a few months.

Anything that’s WaterSense or Energy Star will save you money. I really encourage people to look at beyond the first cost because if you’re gonna have something for more than a year or two it makes so much sense to be able to go to the WaterSense and Energy Star because you’re gonna not only save money but you’re also gonna save energy.”

On the one person inspiring her right now:

PINABELL: “My ten-year-old son. It’s amazing to see the world through their eyes and he is just so courageous and fun. The empathy that comes out of children right now is amazing in a world when we need kindness and I think that’s a really good reminder for all of us.”

On what success means to her:

PINABELL: “Waking up every day with purpose and knowing that myself and my team are making a difference to make the world a better place.”