Small Changes Add Up to Big Savings for Diverse Sonoma County Businesses

Credit: designer.eb, Flickr Creative Commons

A range of businesses in Sonoma County, California, are benefitting from implementing seemingly small changes to their sustainability practices, the Press Democrat reports. When companies make shifts in lighting, heating, cooling, and production, the results can make a big difference to their bottom lines.

One example is the electronics measurement company Keysight Industries, headquartered in Santa Rosa. Originally founded as a unit under Hewlett-Packard, Keysight industries installed energy-efficient LED lighting at its headquarters and three other sites, leading to a 4% decrease in electricity use, according to the Press Democrat. In addition, they installed 30 electric vehicle-charging stations in their main parking lot for employee vehicle, powered by a three-acre solar array. Free charging is seen as a competitive hiring advantage for recruiting tech employees from the area.

The herbal medicinal tea manufacturer Traditional Medicinals, based in Sebastopol, upgraded their packing machines last year. These faster machines use knots instead of staples to tie bags to tags, saving the company more than 200 million staples annually, according to their most recent sustainability report. That seemingly tiny change has been huge for Traditional Medicinals. In 2016 they sold 13% more products than in 2015, and used 6% less packaging by weight, the Press Democrat reported. Last year also marked the company’s first full year running on 100% renewable power drawn from their own solar panels and electricity from a local geothermal plant.

Redwood Credit Union in Sonoma County, which has 19 branches and offices throughout the area, made water and electricity top priorities. The credit union’s water-efficient restrooms and landscaping practices saved about 2 million gallons of water annually, and upgrades to heating and cooling systems saved 113,00 kilowatts per hour, a Redwood Credit Union representative told the Press Democrat.

In 2015, the credit union added a rooftop solar array to its administrative office in Santa Rosa. The system consists of 2,036 panels, produces 662 kilowatts of power, and the credit union expects to see cost recovery from power savings within seven years.

It’s probably no surprise that wineries in Sonoma County are leading the way on sustainability practices that produce business benefits, although their steps have been more like large leaps. For example, Jackson Family Wines, a previous Environmental Leader Award winner, achieved a 41% reduction in winery water intensity per gallon of wine produced in 2015, according to their 2016 sustainability report. This came from a combination of retrofits, investments in water-saving technologies, and behavioral changes.  The winery also installed 6.5 megawatts of solar photovoltaics onsite. When combined with their 4.2 megawatts of onsite energy storage, the winery predicted that the systems would produce approximately $2 million in annual savings.

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