4/27/2008

Use of Solar Power pays off in Seattle

I stumbled upon a very interesting web site yesterday. It was the web site of
Johnson Braund Design Group, Seattle, Washington. This company has successfully accomplished thousands of architectural projects all over the US.

But, what really grabbed my attention was their environmentally friendly approach in all of their activities. They have realized, as a business, that they couldn't promote new, environmentally sustainable design/architecture in their regular services to their clients as successfully as possible, unless they wouldn't have applied all those technologies at their own headquarters and to really tested them, before promoting them further.
In 2007, the company also decided to cut their electricity bill by 50% till the end of 2008.

The company completely reorganized their energy management and consumption and their overall results are truly amazing. The size of the company is quite perfect, if we also want to apply similar solutions in any residence home or in any small private business. We only need to downsize it.
(I am really not interested in larger companies, because their approach is not compatible with residential housing and private budget, as well.)

Considering the use of solar power, the company decided to choose photovoltaics in the form of solar panels. They really wanted to use all benefits of solar power harvesting and they have decided also for high capacity battery banks, and they even split them into 2 separate units to achieve even higher level of energy security and to really get totally energy independent, considering the most important business functions: architectural design (computer workstations, servers) and front office.

They have found out, that they have had quite frequent power outages in their area. Only one such day costs the company more than $50.000 in lost revenue. One year, they had 8 such days in Seattle. Just by elimination of such power outages, the company totally repaid the investment. And there are many more benefits of their own renewable electricity production.

Some stats:
Power of Solar panel array: 10kW
Battery banks: 4600 amp hour
Cost of investment: $96,797
Planed ROI (return of investment): 10 years

- $29,039: Commercial installation-the company is eligible for an instant 30% federal tax credit
- $21,722: Accelerated depreciation over 5 years: cut out of the cost of the system
- $13,579: value of electricity not used in 10 years

The solar photovoltaics panels are warranted until 2032. By that time, the solar system will have saved $31,505 in electricity.

Other advantages:
- power independence of company's main business activities
- increased value of the property (about 10% for the residence home)
- renewable energy generation knowledge and experience
- much lower carbon footprint of the company
- practical - day to day education of environmental sustainability among employees
- reputation - marketing purpose of being energy sustainable

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