In 2006, the IAF Northwest created SustainableWorks and in 2009 it was spun it off into a separate nonprofit economic development enterprise. SustainableWorks’ mission was to create living wage jobs and the pathways to them, provide social and economic benefits for families, and improve the environment by upgrading the existing building stock.
SustainableWorks was grounded in a triple-bottom line approach:
- Creating a Strong Green Economy
- Protecting Our Environment
- Building Stronger Communities
SustainableWorks came to a close in 2013 leaving a strong legacy:
- Finished $7 million in home retrofits business
- Performed 2,000 audits and 740 whole-house retrofits
- Employed 230 people (Full Time Equivalents) directly and though sub-contractors
- Helped avoid 1,324 tons of carbon emissions annually as 740 families are enjoying $446,000 in reduced energy costs annually.
In 2004, well before the idea of "green jobs" became a national phenomenon, the Spokane Alliance and Sound Alliance, both affiliates of the IAF Northwest, secured their first sustainable jobs victory: They convinced Spokane Public Schools to adopt policies tying green building requirements with apprentice utilization standards—creating a pathway for at-risk students into green construction careers.
This green-jobs effort evolved into a project called SustainableWorks, which was launched in 2006 to establish an energy-efficiency retrofit market in the underserved small commercial and nonprofit sectors and, in the process, create quality jobs for local residents.
In 2008, Spokane Alliance began partnering with the Sound Alliance to secure funding to expand SustainableWorks into the residential market and to scale it up to create a significant number of jobs.
In June 2008, the Alliances partnered to obtain a commitment from the Washington Senate Majority Leader to help raise funds for three 100-unit neighborhood-based retrofit projects. In the following months, Alliance leaders met with 45 key legislators in their home districts and then sustained a four-month lobbying effort at the state Capitol.
In early May 2009, Governor Christine Gregoire signed the legislation, putting $14.5 million of the state's stimulus funding into the Community Energy Efficiency Pilot program. The bill's combination of high standards around both jobs and the environment sets a national precedent that Green for All has called "the most comprehensive and groundbreaking green jobs legislation of our time.”
Following passage of the legislation, the IAF Northwest spun SustainableWorks off into a separate but closely held nonprofit organization. In October of 2009, it was awarded a $4 million grant to retrofit 1,800 homes in seven high-need neighborhoods across Washington state.