Energy savings touted with help of rebates
Six area business leaders detailed their energy-saving measures Tuesday in Boulder at the Boulder County Business Report's Green Summit. During the High Fives session, representatives of the companies gave five-minute presentations on their successes in sustainability.
Shaun Oshman, founder and chief executive of information technology support company iSupportU LLC described his venture's moved from a garage in a back alley to a 2,700-square-foot space at 1825 Pearl St. in Boulder. There was early resistance to replacing 100-watt incandescent lights with LEDs, he said, because "we had all pictured BMW blue light" - but his staff discovered that many colors were available and "we let them pick what color lighting they liked."
iSupportU opened "the first and only satellite drop-off site for the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials," or CHARM, Oshman said, and cooled its workspace with ceiling fans and evaporative coolers that saved on air-conditioning costs.
Dan Vonalt, president and CEO of Main Street Mat Co., took a more than 100-year-old building on South Main Street in Longmont and turned a laundry into a business that specialized in renting and cleaning floor mats for businesses.
"As an industry, a cleaners is a polluter of the environment," he said. "Clean sheets go back to the customer, but the dirt stays with the laundry" and goes into wastewater. Through developing a wastewater treatment and recycling system and using pH-balanced and citrus-based soap, Main Street Mat cut its water use in half, Vonalt said, ending up using a gallon per pound washed whereas most laundries use two to four gallons per pound.
His team converted a General Motors car engine into an electricity co-generating system that runs on natural gas and is coupled with an induction electric motor. "We are able to generate twice as much electricity as we need," he said. "The city of Longmont buys back what we don't need. It's nice of them - and it's the law.
"We've eliminated our electric demand and not used any more natural gas in the process," he said.
Seth Chernoff purchased a 37,120-square-foot building at 4665 Nautilus Court in Boulder in 2007, and replaced windows, lighting, plumbing and the HVAC system with the help of rebates and tax credits. One of his eight new tenants wants to pay for its own solar array.
Similar savings were achieved at the 7,514-square-foot Whiterock Building, 1731 15th St., just off Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. For general manager Stephanie Bingham, the proof is in the numbers. The cost of the retrofitting project was $14,973, and $6,385 was returned in rebates, resulting in a total out-of-pocket cost of $8,589. She estimates that at current prices, the annual energy cost savings should be $2,452, meaning that the project will be paid for in about 3.5 years. A lighting upgrade alone resulted in a 43 percent energy savings, she said.
Solar energy was the key to savings at the Boulder Creek Quality Inn and Suites, where general manager Dana Sailer-Mielke helped convert the facility into the first solar-powered hotel in Boulder, using 112 roof-mounted panels. New LED lighting, dual-pane windows, dual-flush toilets and an energy-management system that turns off heating and cooling when a guest leaves a room were part of the improvements.
Brian Schaeffer, shift brewer and efficiency lead at Longmont-based Oskar Blues Brewery LLC, described the beermaker's pioneering idea to package craft beers in totally recyclable aluminum cans, as well as its energy-saving air compressors. The company runs a sustainable farm that produces hay and beef cattle and uses spent grain from the brewery to feed them, he said.
Panel moderator Pam Milmoe, air quality and business sustainability coordinator for Boulder County, reminded those attending the session that an energy-loan program begins Wednesday, Aug. 8, as part of a joint venture of the county and Elevations Credit Union. The reduced-cost loans for residential and business energy-saving upgrades are boosted by a Better Buildings grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
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