It has only been thirteen years since A&R Solar was launched by the two of us out the back of a truck, but our work feels like it’s just begun. The urgency for clean energy continues to grow, and we’re thrilled to be doing this work in partnership with thousands of customers, dozens of employees, and now more than 20 fellow employee-owners.
Our annual Social Purpose Corporate report is a treasured opportunity to take inventory of our progress to-date and the milestones still ahead. From megawatts installed to miles driven to public policies passed, the below metrics have been carefully assembled by a dedicated selection of our company.
We welcome your reflections and questions about this report. If you haven’t heard it from us before, here it is again: we couldn’t be doing this work without the village that got us to this point. Thank you.
metric tons of CO2
Beyond installing solar, our commitment to sustainable operations includes taking an annual inventory of our carbon footprint and purchasing carbon credits to offset our carbon emissions. The offsets purchased this year fund projects that will plant trees, improve forest management, and capture/destroy methane gas emissions from landfills.
Our biggest carbon challenge comes from the vehicle miles driven to meet with customers and install solar throughout Washington and Oregon. In 2018, this amounted to:
In addition to driving our own vehicles, we took 314 ferry trips to and from Washington islands; traveled 8,422 miles on train rides between Seattle and Portland; and flew 19,819 miles to various solar conferences and trainings across the country. These activities had a combined carbon footprint of 1.16 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.
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 77,875 kWh of electricity and 3,866 therms of natural gas in 2018, equating to 33 metric tons of CO2.
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 425 metric tons of CO2 generated by operations will still lead to a net decrease of more than 98,000 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 2018 led to the direct creation of living wage jobs for our Washington and Oregon communities. In 2018, we reached:
We keep a close eye on the waste produced by the packaging and construction materials used in our solar installations. In 2018, we took the lead on recycling:
Our Sustainability Team, formed in 2017, continued to meet regularly to address our environmental impacts and maximize our use of limited resources.
Every December, our employee-owners direct a certain portion of our company’s earnings toward a non-profit organization of their choice. Again 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 2018, check out this article. We always invite new suggestions for organizations to receive donations — just email email@example.com with your recommendation.
Public policy continues to play an important role in our work. In 2018, we contributed to solar policies surrounding net metering, utility power purchase rates for net-zero non-profit entities, and both Washington and Oregon’s legislative efforts surrounding 100% clean energy and carbon mitigation.
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. This year, we’re sharing the story of an artisan business in Eastern Washington that made the choice to power their operations with solar energy.
It’s one thing to make strides toward our own sustainable operations, but it’s a whole other gift to contribute to other organization’s sustainability goals as well. Here’s the story of solar for Mighty Tieton in Tieton, Washington.
“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.