The Headquarters of The Building Distribution, home to S&M Bikes and Fit Bikes among other brands, has recently gone solar. That's right, they are in the final stages of installing enough solar panels to power their entire facility, which houses offices and manufacturing. We covered a bit of the news in our April Issue when the project began, but now that things are starting to enter completion we touched base with CEO Chris Moeller to learn a little bit more about this process and how S&M Bikes is taking initiative to be eco-friendly.
You recently installed 20,000 sq. feet of solar panels on the roof of your headquarters. What will these solar panels generate power for? Is it the entire operations for the building or only select parts?
Once we get the parking lot partially covered with panels we will be able to power this entire building, which houses offices and manufacturing. This building uses about 75% of the total business' power (the other 25% is a nearby warehouse) and it should be completely handled by solar.
How long did the process take to install and then convert all of the power in the building to solar energy?
It took about two months to install everything on the roof and inside the building. It will be another couple months until the parking lot is done as well.
What inspired you to use solar energy?
It's good for the environment and it will save money in the long run as well.
Solar energy doesn't come cheap – was this a hard decision to bite the bullet on financially, or was that not really a primary concern?
Of course the cost was a huge consideration but in the end it will be a good investment financially and more than anything we just feel really good about doing it so that made it easier.
When we talked to you in April you mentioned making several other solid efforts to give back to the environment – what other initiatives have you been integrating into the HQ to make it more environmentally friendly?
We are swapping all of our lights here to LED lights to save about 50% on electricity there. We are insulating our roof and improving our heat/AC duct work to save about half of the heat/AC electricity use, and we're swapping out all of our bathrooms for water saving toilets and urinals, etc. In addition to building improvements we are continuing to use local suppliers as much as possible, make as much of our own product ourselves as possible, and recycle scrap aluminum and steel.
Any advice for other companies looking to install solar power?
Find a good company to work with (we use Living Green from San Clemente, CA), dig up some cash, and get going on it ASAP before the government rebates go away. Eventually you'll break even on the installation, but you'll start helping the environment immediately.