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Southface Institute names Denis Blackburne Volunteer of Year


December 11, 2020, Columbus, OH…Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.’s Senior Vice President-Development Denis Blackburne will be honored by the Southface Institute as a recipient of its prestigious Volunteer of the Year award.  The award will be presented during the nonprofit’s virtual Winter Solstice event on December 17, 2020.

This recognition reflects Mr. Blackburne’s many contributions supporting Southface’s mission to create vibrant, sustainable communities across the Southeast through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance. He served as a board member for the organization for over 12 years.

“We’re so grateful for the generous contribution that Denis has made to Southface over these years as a steadfast partner and leader in helping to promote the intersection of sustainability and healthy, affordable housing,” said Southface President Andrea Pinabell. “His focus on residents first and his efforts to ensure green building remained tied to the low-income tax credit are a legacy that still fuels Southface’s work today. We’re looking forward to honoring him and all he has done for us, and hope that many can join us on December 17!”

Mr. Blackburne has deep professional experience developing energy-efficient, affordable communities for seniors and workforce families. He has led Woda Cooper Companies’ development efforts in the Southeast for the past 11 years. One of his early green projects was Sustainable Fellwood, a landmark mixed-income, mixed-use community that opened in 2009 in Savannah.

“Denis is responsible for the creation of hundreds of affordable housing units across Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, many of which have achieved high levels of sustainability ranging from LEED Platinum certification to Net Zero Ready,” said David Cooper, Jr, Managing Director for the firm. “Denis is a tireless advocate for the importance of progressive improvements in building practices and the responsible use of resources. We congratulate Denis on this well-deserved award.”

Prior to joining Woda Cooper, Mr. Blackburne was Chief Financial Officer for Melaver, Inc., a national leader in the development of sustainable commercial real estate based out of Savannah where he resides.   Born in the United Kingdom from Irish parents Mr. Blackburne grew up in Switzerland and has lived around the world, working for both large public and privately-owned companies such as Tetra Pak, DuPont, and Dow Chemical.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Geneva University and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Mr. Blackburne is a LEED Accredited Professional, a designation given by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. He serves on the board of Emergent Structures, a non-profit that strives to re-purpose materials through deconstruction. In addition to his service as a board member for Southface, he was formerly on the boards of the Historic Savannah Foundation and United Way, Savannah. He is also the past Honorary Consul for France and Germany in Savannah.

Tickets for Winter Solstice, a one-hour party featuring the awards ceremony plus entertainment by the Atlanta-based comedy improv troupe Dad’s Garage, are now available at

About Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.

Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. and its affiliates specialize in the development, design, construction, and management of high-quality affordable multi-family apartments, senior communities, and single-family homes. The company marked 30 years in business May 2, 2020, with operations in 15 states and a portfolio of approximately 350 communities and more than 14,000 units. Green building is standard with certifications including Passive House, Zero Energy Ready Homes, LEED, Enterprise Green, EarthCraft, and ENERGY STAR. In addition to its Columbus headquarters, Woda Cooper has offices in Savannah, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Shelbyville, KY; Annapolis, MD; Mackinaw City, MI; Charlotte, NC; and Norfolk, VA. Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies 10th in nation among Developers and 14th among Owners on May 1, 2020.

About Southface Institute

Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is leading the way toward a sustainable, equitable and healthy built environment for all. Since 1978, our programs have closed the gap between environmental awareness and action by promoting scalable resource efficiency and clean energy solutions for homes, workplaces and communities. Our practice of regenerative placemaking amplifies real-world strategies to create a built environment where the synergy between ecological and human needs supports health and well-being while creating resilient, equitable and thriving communities, striving to achieve a low-carbon future.

Adair Court, a 91-unit mixed-income seniors community in downtown Atlanta, is the latest development Denis Blackburne led for Woda Cooper Companies in Georgia. Adair Court was built to the US Green Building Council’s LEED v4 certification standards and the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program.