Marine Corps veteran makes K.C. buildings more efficient

By Kristina Avery

For Kansas City resident Donna Sanders, work and play are closely connected. As an outdoor enthusiast who loves sea kayaking, sailing and skiing, Sanders cares deeply about clean air and water, and wildlife and wild places. And as the owner of a green business, she’s working every day to protect them. Her company, 106 Greenway, helps fight global warming and pollution by promoting clean power and energy efficiency.

Sanders, a Marine Corps veteran, started 106 Greenway in Kansas City with her brother two and a half years ago. The company provides energy efficiency audits, weatherization services, and solar and sustainability consulting for folks throughout the Greater Kansas City area, including low-income residents. While the company’s goal is to save energy and fight pollution, residents appreciate the other benefits weatherization brings, from creating more comfortable living spaces to saving money.

“Building owners are excited after they get their first utility bills and they see how much they’re saving,” Sanders explains.

Just one of the things that sets 106 Greenway apart is that the company literally won’t cut corners; they take care to make sure the external corners of rooms are insulated, since this is one of the places in a building that tends to leak air.

The company is doing so well that it is now working to expand its reach over the next five years. Right now, roughly 70 percent of the company’s work is residential, but Sanders wants to take it to the next level by providing small and medium-sized businesses with energy services.

In addition to running a successful business, Sanders helped start a Kansas City chapter of Efficiency First, a nonprofit trade association for people working in the energy efficiency sector. In forming the chapter, Sanders brought together a diverse group, including energy auditors and representatives from the construction and solar industries, as well as utilities and trades. She was also recently appointed to the national board of Efficiency First, where she hopes to work on bringing weatherization benefits to multifamily housing.

Sanders’ vision is for Kansas City to become a model for smart, modern energy practices – a place where residents are aware of their energy use, and solar panels are found in parking lots.

She’s acutely aware of how important federal support is in achieving this vision. Kansas City received $20 million from the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood program – something that helped accelerate energy savings efforts in the area, where local interest in energy efficiency was already taking root.

 Kristina Avery is a senior writer at Green For All. This post was part of the Surdna Foundation’s Storybank initiative.

Photo courtesy of Green For All.