New Solar Array Attracts Customers to Huston & Company
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Huston & Company, designers and builders of custom, hardwood furniture for libraries and academic environments, have long been an environmentally conscious company.
They use FSC certified lumber, sourced almost exclusively from plentiful American hardwoods. At the company workshop in Kennebunkport, Maine, the employees are dedicated to recycling and the company creates very little waste. All wood scraps from the production of the company’s high quality furniture are used in the workshop’s woodstove to drastically reduce heating needs. Sawdust from the cutting and sanding of furniture parts is bagged and donated to a local organic farmer. Even small wood shavings are saved for a local family with a small flock of chickens.
The next step for this company with a small carbon footprint and capacity for large projects was a solar photovoltaic array, which will produce roughly 16,500 kWh/year, offseting roughly 30,000 lbs of C02 emissions from traditional sources of grid electricity. The solar array should cover 60-70% of the shop’s electricity needs.
Solar Power: Smart for the Environment, Smart for Business
Bill Huston, owner and founder, considers these “greening” measures important aspects of his furniture-building business and environmental stewardship.
“Huston & Company is naturally greener than many other businesses in our industry simply because of our relative size. Being a small business, we use less power and heating oil, we require a lot less transportation for our products, our tools and machinery last longer due to less wear and tear. The method we use to build our furniture is more hands-on, using less machinery and creating less waste. But we still feel we need to do all we can to improve our footprint, as they say, in any way possible,” explains Huston. “The solar panels are great improvements that help us to be the best stewards we can be.”
In addition to being a win for the environment, the solar array is also a sound investment decision. Generous state and federal incentives helped reduce the project cost by more than 50%, locking in an effective electric rate of around .10c/kWh over the next 20 years for Huston & Company.
The system, visible from Log Cabin Rd in Kennebunkport, is also proving to be a popular attraction. Huston reports that people are now stopping in the showroom frequently to ask about the solar panels, and finds himself giving impromptu tours of the shop and solar inverters. It’s also now a daily ritual to check out their SunnyBeam data monitor which reports system performance in real time! Huston & Company’s data monitoring is available online as well.
Learn more about Huston & Company’s work at: http://www.hustonandcompany.com/. They also put up a fantastic play-by-play blog on the solar installation at: http://www.hustonandcompany.com/blog/2012/03/05/i%E2%80%99ve-got-sunshine-cloudy-day.
System photo courtesy of Huston & Company.
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