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I recently heard a presentation by John Peterson, the author of The Power of Pro Bono.  The lecture was part of a lunch sponsored by Holcim (US) Inc., after the second session of the AIA’s 2030+ Series here in Denver.  In the book, Peterson makes the case that if design firms invest 1% of their gross revenue in volunteer causes, it would make a significant difference in our communities and our country.  That lecture caused me to wonder:  How is Hutton Architecture Studio doing?  Are we giving anywhere near 1% back?  So I did some quick math and here are the results.

In calendar year 2010, all staff at HAS worked a total of 32,661 hours.  Just for reference, the number of hours in the typical American work year in private practice is 2080.  So, how many of those hours were devoted to volunteerism?

Denver Architecture Foundation – Cleworth Architectural Legacy (CAL) Project

This program places architects into Denver Public Schools.  It’s run by a wonderful gentleman, Tim Thomas.  We’ve been continually participating for eight years.  On average, three to four of our staff participate.  Each class session is one hour, and there are six classes per year.  So, on average, we participate 64 hours per semester.

Denver Metro Regional Science Fair

I’ve been a judge at the Science Fair since 2004.  It is always a lot of fun and I really enjoy seeing the different trends emerging and then fading away.  For example, a few years ago, there were a lot of projects on Forensic science, largely due to the very successful CSI series of TV shows. The judging requires most of a day, and includes one on one interaction with students.  They are remarkably poised as they present their ideas and defend them against the pointed questions we judges throw at them.  The main event is the following night, when we present the awards in the IMAX Theater at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  We also give out two special awards for Solar Energy – one for best in both the Junior and Senior Divisions.  I spend approximately 16 hours on that each year.

USGBC Green Schools Committee

Two of our staff members, Margaret Pauls and Kari-elin Mock, regularly participate on the Colorado Chapter of the USBGC’s Green Schools Committee.  This group promotes the greening of existing schools and the construction of new sustainable school buildings.  Additionally, Margaret is serving as the Chair of the group for 2011.  Last year we spent approximately 48 hours.

Committee on Architecture for Education

The CAE promotes quality design of educational spaces and researches the link between architecture and educational outcomes.  I’ve been serving as the K-12 Co-Chair since early 2009, and have just accepted the position as a Board Member starting this year.  Last year I spent approximately 160 hours on CAE activities. This year, that number should increase significantly with my new position.

School District Fundraisers

We are asked to participate in fundraisers for many different school districts, including Cherry Creek, Douglas County, St. Vrain Valley, and Adams 12 Five Star Schools.  These events are usually an opportunity to honor exemplary teachers and students.  We typically spend 32 hours per year on these events.

Golf Tournament Fundraisers

I realize that playing golf isn’t the normal picture of pro bono activity, but with our many educational clients, golf is a primary means of raising money to further their own pro bono efforts.  Without the participation of private companies such as ours, these events wouldn’t be successful.  We spend another 64 hours a year on this type of activity; time that we can’t spend on actual projects.

In total, the above activities equal 400 hours.  So our pro bono contribution is approximately 1.25%.  It’s good to know we’re already exceeding the 1% goal, and we’ll continue to monitor this as well as look for other, worthy, investments of our pro bono time.  We should all celebrate the Power of 1%!

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