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Lead by Example
Many organizations throughout Utah have stepped up to the plate in an effort to preserve, protect and enhance the environment. These organizations get that sustainable practices are infiltrating the business world, with benefits that go beyond the environment, from cost savings to attracting consumers who are increasingly seeking out environmentally minded products.
Utah Business applauds all of the advancements made in green business practices, community involvement and education. Every step toward a more sustainable world increases the potential for a successful economic and recreational future. In the next few pages, we celebrate organizations that are painting the town green in our 2012 Sustainable Business Awards program.
Salt Lake Community Solar,
a project of Utah Clean Energy
Dozens of homes in Salt Lake County will soon sport a new solar power system, and hundreds of homeowners have signed up for a free solar assessment—all thanks to an innovative initiative to overcome the barriers to “going solar.”
Salt Lake Community Solar is a collaborative program piloted by Utah Clean Energy, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. It is led by a volunteer steering committee and has the support of numerous local businesses and organizations.
Sara Baldwin, senior policy and regulatory associate with Utah Clean Energy, explains the concept: “Homeowners interested in solar on their homes join forces to tackle the process together (and on behalf of a larger group of participants). A steering committee develops a rigorous request for proposals, selects a qualified contractor and negotiates a discounted, tiered pricing schedule for residential solar. As more participants commit to investing in solar, the price per installed kilowatt goes down accordingly.”
Salt Lake Community Solar was able to negotiate the lowest price for residential solar ever seen in Utah—in fact, the price has been reduced by nearly 40 percent. This reduction has brought the cost of solar energy closer to traditional residential electricity, and tax incentives bring the cost down further.
As Utah’s first internet service provider, XMission has proved to be a pioneer and leader in the community when it comes to sustainability. XMission encourages consumer responsibility and in 2007 co-sponsored a home electronics recycling event that brought in heaps of used equipment. When company president Pete Ashdown saw the staggering amount of reusable equipment, he launched the ElectroRegeneration Society, a nonprofit organization that refurbishes used equipment and donates it to other nonprofits.
The company has taken sizeable steps to reduce its own impact on the environment. It purchases enough renewable energy credits to entirely offset its carbon footprint, preventing nearly 3,400 tons of CO2 emissions each year—the equivalent of not driving 7.26 million miles.
“Our employees have been involved in recycle and reuse efforts as well as trying to find the most efficient methods of powering and cooling our data center. We have also allowed employees to telecommute for the past decade,” says Ashdown.
XMission invested in equipment upgrades in its data center to increase the efficiency of power and cooling systems. It also recycles nearly all of its office waste, including vast amounts of packaging materials.
Adobe Systems, Inc.
Nationally, Adobe’s average Energy Star score for its managed buildings is 99 out of 100, placing them in the top 1 percentile of all buildings in the United States. Adobe’s new facility in Lehi is no different.
Designed and constructed based on LEED criteria, the building includes effective water conservation measures and painstaking efforts to maintain indoor environmental quality. The building was constructed with careful attention to pollution prevention, and reusable materials were utilized whenever possible.
To conserve energy, the building has a three-phase cooling system that relies primarily on the circulation of outside air and evaporative cooling. If these methods aren’t sufficient, the building has mechanical cooling to create a comfortable working environment. Much of the energy consumption for a data center comes from cooling the server room. Adobe mitigated this energy drain by installing “air curtain” technology that pulls hot air from the server into another part of the building to warm that space. The same technology is also deployed around the perimeter of the building to minimize heating costs in the winter.