Greenfield Businesses Save $$ - Energy Investments Deliver Big Returns
June 03, 2009
Nancy Hazard, Co-chair, Greening Greenfield Energy Committee
Van Wood, Co-owner, SmallCorp
Al Shane, Curator, Museum of Our Industrial Heritage
GREENFIELD BUSINESSES SAVE $$
ENERGY INVESTMENTS DELIVER BIG RETURNS
GREENFIELD, MA – What does SmallCorp and Historic Factory, LLC, home of the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, and have in common? They both invested in their buildings last fall, and they are very happy with the return on their investments! They are also proudly displaying a Greenfield 10% Challenge sign.
Last fall, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage moved into the historic Greenfield Steel Stamp building on Meade Street, off Mill Street in Greenfield, MA. In the winter of 2007-2008, the 10,000 square foot building used about 4,000 gallons of oil to heat it, and at 2008 prices that translated to over $18,000! The ceiling had been insulated the previous winter, and the brick building is historic, so Al Shane, curator of the Museum, called an old paddling friend who works with the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee for ideas on what else they could do.
“Among other things, Nancy Hazard of Greening Greenfield told me about some do-it-yourself insider storm windows that a person in Warwick had developed, and that got me going,” said Al Shane, co-owner of the building. “I made and installed 70 storm windows and we saved over 1000 gallons of oil - that is a 25% reduction in our energy use! Even at today’s prices of $2/gallon we saved $2,000 last winter, which paid for the windows, and delivered an $810 profit. That’s 168% return on our investment! And our tenants love how warm it feels.”
The storm windows, called “winserts” by their inventor, Brian Nugent, has two layers of very clear plastic stretched over each side of a simple wood frame. Al used “flexoglass,” which comes in large rolls and costs 25 cents per square foot. Each window cost $17 for materials. The Museum plans to open their doors for this first time this Sunday, with an open house from 10 am - 4 pm.
SmallCorp, which produces museum quality display cases in the Greenfield Industrial Park, took a more hi-tech approach. Van Wood, co-owner, had already cut his energy use, so last summer he and his wife, Molly, decided to invest in a solar electric system, or photovoltaics (PV), and they decided to try and meet 100% of their electrical needs!
The 100 kw PV system, which was the largest PV system in Western Massachusetts when it was built last year, was installed on the almost flat roof of the SmallCorp building and designed to produce electricity during the non-snowy months. So this March, after the snow melted, the electrons began to flow. Over the past few months the panels have generated over $8,000 of electricity, and avoided putting 24,993 pounds of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change, into the atmosphere.
“We are really pleased with the panels,” said Van Wood. “We have a monitoring system that shows minute by minute solar production. On sunny days we are producing more electricity than we need and selling the extra to WMECO. It looks as if we will meet our goal of generating 100% of our electrical energy on an annual basis!”
Before installing the system, SmallCorp was paying about $30,000 for electricity each year. The system cost $738,000, but after state rebates and federal tax credits, the cost to them was about $285,000. They expect to have the system paid off in ten years, and then they will start making a very predictable and sizeable profit of $1500 per month, which is much better than what Wall Street has been delivering!
“It is really exciting to hear about businesses that are saving money because they have reduced their energy use and climate change emissions,” said Nancy Hazard of the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee. “Al and Van have already exceeded our Greenfield 10% Challenge, and they are leading the way to our ultimate goal of an 80% reduction by 2050! We invite other businesses to join them and take the Challenge and tell us about their successes!”
The Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) launched its 10% Challenge in April. To date over 169 households have signed up to take the challenge. To join the effort and get a Greenfield 10% Challenge lawn sign go to www.GreeningGreenfield.org or call 773-7004. On the web, you will also find a list of over 30 simple things you can do to reduce your energy costs, a link to an energy calculator that is calculating how much money and carbon emissions we can save by our actions, and information on how homeowners and landlords can sign up for a free utility energy audit for your home. There is also a link to a 10% calculator for businesses.
GGEC works closely with the Town of Greenfield on the Greening Greenfield campaign, which
uses “greening” to as the inspirational engine to build a sustainable Greenfield so that current and future generations can enjoy life in this beautiful abundant valley.