Jacob Perritt-Cravey: Spirit of Gainesville nominee


Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.

Since 2007, Jacob Perritt-Cravey has been working hard to serve the Gainesville community and the environment we share through his nonprofit Earth Givers, Inc. Earth Givers’ mission is to educate and activate people to live more sustainably by participating in local projects that reduce energy and water consumption, and increase local resources while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. His nonprofit promotes more sustainable and resilient communities by reinvesting monies from locally generated carbon offsets into community-based projects. These projects bring people together from all walks of life, breaking down barriers and encouraging community, as well as, helping reduce environmental impact from climate change.

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Jacob Perritt-Cravey

Facts

Category: Entrepreneurship

About Jacob Perritt-Cravey

Occupation: Executive Director of Earth Givers

Years in Gainesville: 6

Spouse Partner: Chelsie Papiez

Children One on the way

Through this work Jacob partnered with University of Florida to bring the nation’s first carbon neutral football season and athletics program, establishing the Neutral Gator program. This was no small feat. It took perseverance and passion for this cause that kept Jacob motivated in the early days of Gator Fan Fest where he personally spoke to and handed out over 2,500 compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) before home games. His work also included beating the Gainesville streets with the Sweet Dreams ice cream truck to encourage families to change out their incandescent light bulbs in return for a scoop and a CFL bulb – distributing over 25,000 CFLs.

It has not always easy to talk about climate change due to the perceived political divide that was even more prominent in the early days of Earth Givers. What drives Jacob is not just about carbon reduction in light of climate change, it’s about bringing community together to create a more sustainable, cleaner and healthier place for us and our children to live. After 6 years of dedication to serve the Gainesville community, the nonprofit initiatives have grown and Earth Givers recently re-branded them under the umbrella We Are Neutral.

The biggest part of the We Are Neutral initiative is the community building effort that surrounds the way carbon offsets are created. It has never been about simply buying carbon offsets some where in the world and creating carbon neutrality locally. It is a model of social and environmental responsibility that brings together communities locally to create carbon or energy savings in low-income housing units and native reforestation of Alachua Counties’ conservation lands. With over 270 low-income housing units retrofitted and 18,000 native trees planted, Jacob has been busy gaining support in Gainesville for a cause that will keep on giving for generations to come.

As an example of this hard work and determination let me share with you what exactly low-income housing energy retrofits entail and how Jacob has been able to really giveback and breakdown social barriers to help Gainesville’s community.

His nonprofit works with housing management to gain approval for energy retrofit installations. Renters are informed of the project and We Are Neutral organizes staff and volunteers to retrofit each rental unit with the installation of new energy saving light bulbs; water saving faucet aerators in the kitchen and bathrooms, toilet tank flow reducers, and low-flow shower heads; and insulation around hot water heater pipes. Refrigerator coils are also cleaned and thermostats are checked for accuracy along with water temperature and air leaks around doors and windows. Through this process low-income families gain a better sense of ways they can change their personal behaviors to keep energy consumption low along with their utility bills. As a result, low-income families in the Gainesville area reduce their monthly energy bills by 15-20%, volunteers are educated through their training, and the community benefits as a whole with the time given and spent through this process of giving back. The energy or carbon saved is then certified as carbon credit after a year+ of savings monitored, then We Are Neutral sells these credits to create carbon neutral events, personal travel, sports, music, and campuses. The returning income is then used to reinvest into more low-income energy housing retrofits – locally created and locally offset projects.

Along the way, We Are Neutral has developed an amazing group of volunteers through the University of Florida and greater Gainesville community who participate on every level of community activism to help make Gainesville a more sustainable community for the next generation. Jacob’s work has been to create locally-based projects that deliver high valued benefits by promoting volunteerism, social equity, and a sense of personal responsibility. I think he succeeds in all of these levels and deserves to be formally recognized by the community of Gainesville.

Community Offices Held:

- Vice President of Sustainable Alachua County

Nominated by Anna Grace Sampson

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