One of Savannah’s environmental pioneers will mark his tenth year in the Hostess City next month. And man, does he have a weird way of celebrating.
September’s “mattress dash” isn’t actually to observe Tommy Linstroth’s decade of sustainable development here. It’s a fundraiser for his latest cause.
But you might as well note Linstroth’s contributions to our living city while the man himself cheers on teams of racers pushing twin beds down the middle of Forsyth Park.
A “mattress dash” is essentially a “bed race.” Teams of four people push a bed with one rider on it. They compete for different prizes, including cash.
Linstroth says he got the idea from seeing one such fun run in Charleston.
“We have a number of races,” he says. “But there certainly wasn’t anything like that in Savannah. So, I figured, ‘Hey, if Charleston can do it, we can do it and hopefully we’ll do it better.”
Costumes? Yes, we can do that. Slightly off-kilter DIY projects? I think it’s called SCAD. Registration for the September 28th event is going on now. All the money raised goes to a new charity called Sustainativity. Linstroth started the group earlier this year.
“I really wanted to form a non-profit that would invest in tangible, long-term projects that in a couple of years, I could go back and say, ‘Hey, we made that happen and it’s still cranking out good things,’” Linstroth says.
Sustainativity’s goal is to help other non-profits “go green.” And that’s not often a priority when you’re cash-strapped and mission-focused. Take America’s Second Harvest, for example.
Last year, the Savannah food bank served more than eight million meals to hungry people. That means they have eight million things to worry about more than if their 20-year-old lights earn an environmental seal of approval.
Enter Sustainativity and a $10,000 check to retrofit their entire warehouse with energy-saving lights. Linstroth says the upgrade both helps the environment and puts $3,500 back in the organization’s annual budget.
“They’re using less kilowatt hours, which are producing less greenhouse gas emissions,” Linstroth says. “And they’re able to feed more children and more families every year.”
America’s Second Harvest was Sustainativity’s first community partner. The new group envisions helping community gardens, churches and other non-profits. So, get in bed!
Sustainativity is only Linstroth’s second big project this year. The man is just not busy enough. Maybe you missed the launch of his mobile and web application that helps manage green building projects.
It’s called Green Badger. And it’s designed to make it easier for construction crews to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an industry standard.
“Green Badger is really a culmination of my ten years of sustainability and LEED consulting experience,” Linstroth says.
He came to Savannah in September 2004 to work for local developer Melaver, Inc. He now runs his own consulting firm, Trident Sustainability. All together, he’s worked on more than 60 LEED-certified projects, including the nation’s first all-retail LEED shopping center, Abercorn Common.
But I think his biggest contribution to Savannah has been helping to change the language of sustainability. It’s not just about saving the planet anymore. It’s about saving money.
“As much as I’m a tree-hugger, there are a lot of people who don’t believe in that,” Linstroth says. “And we have to make the business case for them.”
You might get him to consult you about racing bed construction. There are demonstration videos at the event’s website, mattressdash.org.
“You want to be able to run upright,” Linstroth says. “You want to be able to have your wheels cruising in one direction and not flopping all over the place.”
You could say Linstroth has spent the last ten years in Savannah doing exactly that – running upright and cruising in one direction, toward a sustainable planet.