Last Friday, September 29th, Dr. Bronner’s held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new solar power installation, that will provide about half of the power we need at our soap-making plant in Vista, California. Our staff took some time out from their busy day to celebrate the completion of this project, along with several officials from the City of Vista and our project partners at Heliopower and Ecology Artisans.
Dr. Bronner’s began researching how to construct an on-site solar-generated electricity system in 2013, but soon we realized that the factory building could not hold solar panels on its roof. In response to this architectural challenge, we pursued a solar design project that would utilize all buildable areas surrounding the building, including carport structures and steel beams mounted above the loading dock. The design also incorporates landscaping under the solar structures that integrates water conservation techniques and regenerative organic agricultural practices.
The 346-kw solar system generates 572,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Since installation, the system has provided about 50% of all our headquarters’ electricity needs and plenty of shaded parking. The greenhouse gas emissions avoided due to using solar power versus drawing electricity from the grid is equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed by growing 3,276 tree seedlings for 10 years!
The new landscaping replaces the water and chemical intensive lawns and bushes along the road and driveway that were in place when the company purchased the building, and features an organic system with indigenous, drought tolerant plants, and bio-swells that will channel more than 660,000 gallons of rain water on the landscape each year. Once the plants are established, the new system will eliminate the need for any irrigation water for the 27,000 sq. foot of newly landscaped areas. The water savings will be almost half a million gallons of water saved per year—that is enough water for over 10,000 20-minute showers, or more than half the size of an Olympic swimming pool!
The solar power project is a concrete example of Dr. Bronner’s company vision for sustainability, which is inspired by the philosophy of company founder, Emanuel Bronner. In 1986, Emanuel was filmed expressing his vision for a solar power fueled world!
The company is grateful for its excellent partners in this project: Heliopower, for the solar system design, engineering, and construction; Ecology Artisans, for landscaping design and installation; and Belvedere Equipment Financing for project finance. The company also thanks the City of Vista, including Economic Development Director, Kevin Ham, and Community Development Director, John Conley, for their support and guidance through the permitting process.
We look forward to future sustainability initiatives at our manufacturing plant and throughout our supply chain!