At Ipsun Solar, our business’s purpose is to deploy solar panels all around the area we serve, one home, or store, or church, or school at a time. In this way, we do our part to lead our region in fighting climate change and solving our dependence on large, central power plants and fossil fuels. Our entire reason for doing what we do is to help residents and building owners self-power with a clean, renewable resource.
But we don’t stop there! As a B Corporation, we take seriously our responsibility seriously protect the environment. In honor of Earth Month, here’s a look at what else we do to minimize the environmental impact our company has, and make our solar installation firm as sustainable as it can be.
With Goodnet, we source the most environmentally responsible office supplies we can, such as paper with recycled paper for printing, hand towels, folders, and labels. As our sustainability policy states, “Material purchases for our clients needs are to be reviewed from an environmental point of view, and shipping and packaging are to be minimized whenever possible.” Our office has recycling collection and we sort the waste we generate.
We think our customers and the community care more now than ever about choosing companies that upload an obligation to respect sustainability more. The anti-straw movement and the plastic pollution crisis show that we all have to be more conscious than ever about reducing use of disposable products.
When it comes to the energy that goes into producing solar panels, our philosophy is that the panel itself is going to offset its own lifecycle emissions many many times over while it’s in service, and that moreover its reducing unhealthy air pollution here in the DC Metro region as well as costs associated with transmission and distribution of electricity, because solar is consumed by the home where its located. Our friends at A&R Solar offered this helpful quote to that effect from a 2008 study:
“PV technologies provide the benefits of significantly curbing air emissions harmful to human and ecological health. It is noted that the environmental profiles of photovoltaics are further improving as efficiencies and material utilization rates increase and this kind of analysis needs to be updated periodically.” Source: Emissions from Photovoltaic Life Cycles, Vasilis M. Fthenakis, Hyung Chul Kim, and Erik Alsema, Environmental Science & Technology 200842 (6), 2168-2174, DOI: 10.1021/es071763q
Staff Behavior and Norms
Have you visited our office in Dupont Circle? It’s a comfortable, smaller footprint, town-office on the third floor of a charming commercial block mixed in with local eateries, non-profits, start-ups and shops. We keep it healthy by keeping chilled water on hand, and we selected a building with natural light in every room for productivity and lighter mood. Office plants help oxygenate our indoor environment. We brew coffee by the pot (or French press) in the break room, and enjoy it out of our own reusable travel cups and a motley collection of ceramic mugs from Goodwill – no plastic pods or styrofoam, thank you very much!
By occupying only the square footage we need to work efficiently, and sharing work spaces for our departments, it facilitates collaboration and sharing of knowledge while limiting the energy needed to heat, cool and light our work areas. To innovate, we have set up the central room with touch-down tables, a monitor with Chromecast to eliminate the need for taking meeting notes on paper or whiteboard, and a living room area complete with a long couch (gifted by an employee who redecorated their apartment!)
Some of our activities necessarily produce emissions we can’t eliminate, such as air travel to industry conferences and tailpipe emissions from our field trucks and vans. What we can’t do away with, we have a company plan to offset with carbon credits. We choose the market that we use to purchase offsets carefully, and carbonfund.org is an example of one place where we can confidently take care of paying our part to account for the carbon costs of our daily operations. We encourage staff to account for personal travel, too.
Our plan is fairly comprehensive but we’re always working to go further. From staff members going solar at their own homes so that when they work from home their computers and phones are powered by the sun, to making sure all our recessed overhead lighting in our office is CFL or LED, we push for greater sustainability. Not just around Earth Day but all year long, we believe all companies should consider their environmental effects and adopt sustainability goals.
What do you do at your workplace to help the planet?