Eleven years into our work, it still feels like we are just getting started. Over the last decade, we have seen fantastic progress toward widespread adoption of solar power, including 5x price decreases and 10x jobs growth. We’re thrilled to be a part of this journey.
Beyond our core mission to add megawatts of solar energy to the grid, we also have goals to operate our company in a transparent and sustainable fashion. That’s why we’re excited to announce our first ever public Social Purpose Corporation report to celebrate our areas of success while highlighting the metrics where we still have much work to do.
We intend for this report to be the first in many to come, each getting us one step closer to our vision of limitless clean energy for all.
metric tons of CO2
The road to more sustainable operations starts by quantifying our current carbon footprint. For A&R Solar, our biggest carbon challenge comes from the vehicle miles driven to meet with customers and install solar throughout Washington and Oregon. In 2017, this amounted to:
In addition to driving our own vehicles, we took 246 ferry trips to and from Washington islands; 39 train rides between Seattle and Portland; and flew 9,954 miles to various solar conferences and trainings across the country. These activities had a combined carbon footprint of 3 metric tons.
We sometimes hear concerns from customers about the carbon footprint of the solar energy equipment itself. If you spent a day in our warehouse, you would know what they’re talking about. Solar panels, inverters, racking, and wire arrive daily to serve our Pacific Northwest customers. Thankfully, nearly all our materials are manufactured domestically and provided by local suppliers within ten miles of our warehouses. Based on studies by NREL, and given our highly localized material content, we estimate it will take four years to offset the embedded energy originally required to manufacturer and ship the system components. This equates to 4,377 metric tons of CO2 embedded in the equipment we provided in 2017.
And finally, we require a not-insignificant amount of electricity to keep the lights on, the temperatures comfortable, and the computers humming in our offices and warehouses. Between both locations, we consumed approximately 86,138 kWh of electricity and 3,639 therms of natural gas in 2017, equating to 28 metric tons of CO2.
The above figures are not bragging points — they are honest blemishes in our desire to have a minimal impact on the planet. To address our footprint, we have been actively upgrading our construction fleet to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles. We also purchased two hybrid vehicles for shared use when a truck or van isn’t necessary.
Of course, we can’t take credit for our customers’ investments in their own clean energy systems. But we’re proud of the fact that the 361 metric tons of CO2 generated by operations will still lead to a net decrease of more than 22,000 metric tons over the life of the systems we installed! While we continue to take strides in minimizing our own environmental impact, our customers can be proud of the fact that they are literally making the world a cleaner, healthier place to live.
Solar’s growth in 2017 led to the direct creation of living wage jobs for our Washington and Oregon communities. In 2017, we reached:
In 2018, we look forward to another year of fantastic growth with the expectation of reaching 70 employees by year end.
We keep a close eye on the waste produced by the packaging and construction materials used in our solar installations. In 2017, we took the lead on recycling:
To take our recycling and waste-mitigation efforts to the next level, we formed a Sustainability Team to keep looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and make best use of its limited resources.
Every December, our employee-owners direct a certain portion of our company’s earnings toward a non-profit organization of their choice. This year, we also asked our customers where to give back. It was our most impactful year ever with:
For a full list of organizations receiving contributions in 2017, check out this article. We always invite new suggestions for organizations to receive donations — just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendation.
Public policy plays an important role in our work, as it does for the entire energy sector. In 2017, we hired our first-ever Policy and Partnerships director to keep the industry moving forward. But our policy work doesn’t just fall on one person. In 2017, our employees actively contributed to the advancement of issues like:
While we’re happy to put in the heavy lifting via our day-to-day policy work, our progress ultimately comes from the tens of thousands of homeowners and small businesses choosing to go solar every day.
We started A&R Solar in 2007 based on the conviction that the change we wanted to see in the world started with us. In 2017, we saw that same conviction come to life from 385 homeowners, businesses, and public agencies that made the choice to do their part on the path toward limitless clean energy.
So we end our first-ever SPC report with a story about you: because our purpose isn’t just to take care of our employees or reduce waste or advance policy — we wake up every morning thrilled to empower everyday people like Dave Watterson to make smart investments in the future of energy.
“Social Purpose Corporations were created by Washington state’s legislature in 2012 to empower businesses to make decisions beyond money and in the pursuit of a social or environmental purpose. A&R Solar has been a Social Purpose Corporation since 2016 and a Certified B Corp since 2012.