In 2012 Hodges Badge Company went live with a wind turbine at our RI location. Our project for 2013 is to take on solar power!
If you didn’t already know, Hodges Badge Company has long been firmly committed to conservation and to renewable energy. Maybe it began with our CEO’s college time in Burlington, VT, or perhaps during his many years of volunteer work with the Aquidneck Land Trust, but it began (as it always does) with a series of small steps. In the beginning we focused on reducing our energy consumption as we tried to make the entire plant more energy efficient. Here’s a summary of Hodges’ Go Green History:
- We installed a thick insulation on the roof in order to run the heat and air conditioning units less.
- We switched to on demand hot water heaters and removed our six 20 gallon hot water tank heaters scattered around the building.
- We used to have two trash dumpsters and a recycling dumpster that we filled every week. Then we started a recycling program and now what we send away is 2/3 recycling and 1/3 trash. We aren’t aiming for zero trash, but we’d sure like to get close to that goal.
- We tied all of our heating and air conditioning units to a master computer to control their energy usage
- We also bought a high efficiency vacuum pump and high efficiency air compressor because we previously used a 40 horse power motor to run these all of the time.
Having done all of this, we were still using 450,000 kW of energy a year – about a $50,000 electricity bill. We realized very quickly that there were certain factors that we couldn’t eliminate. Obviously we have to turn the lights on and provide workers with a heated or air conditioned work place. Another example is the fact that we also constantly run hot stamping presses that have to be heated. These hot stamping presses often heat the room too much and then we have to cool it. We found that we were facing a few vicious cycles that were inevitable if we were going to run our business properly. We then began to brainstorm what the next step would be.
We thought briefly about putting solar panels on the roof at our Rhode Island facility, but realized that the building was built in the mid 1970s and had no way of figuring out if the building would hold up the solar panels. We turned to wind. As devout readers of this blog know, we installed a 250kw wind turbine in Portsmouth two years ago. To date, it has generated more than 225,000kw of power!
The wind is strong at our RI facility because we are located near the ocean, but our plant in Washington, MO doesn’t get much wind. It just so happened that in Missouri we came across a company called Microgrid Solar from St. Louis who had already done other commercial projects. We also had access to engineering drawings of the Missouri building and were able to determine that the grade of steel it was made of could support solar panels. After several discussions with Microgrid Solar we determined to put solar panels on the roof of our Missouri facility.
We are going to install 68kw of solar capacity, which should generate 89,000kW hours of energy a year – about 25% of our total usage. The cost of the project is $204,000 and thanks to rebates and incentives from our power company, the payback is just over a year. Installation should start in November, and be complete by the end of 2013!
Rick Hodges’ hope is for Hodges Badge to be the best environmental steward that it can possibly be with the goals of minimizing the companies impact on the environment, preserving the earth for future generations – oh, and saving money to keep costs down whenever possible. Rick says that he doesn’t know what Hodges next environmental project is going to be, but he’s sure to announce it here on this blog when the time comes.