Friday, May 15, 2015

Sustainability in Action

Today I had the opportunity to see an innovative company putting sustainable practices to work in their business. Clayton Lane, James Lane Air Conditioning and Plumbing, invited me to see their rainwater harvesting and solar systems.  I hope their practices catch on with other businesses.

3000 gal storage tank
Currently, they have a 3000 gallon water tank, although they have plans to install additional tanks. Just 1/4 inch of rain will fill this tank. This tank provides water to all of their toilets and urinals and also provides water to clean parts and to fill mobile water tanks which are taken to work sites for hydraulic excavation and other applications. If they had 25 or fewer employees, they could purify the water on site for drinking. 

Control area with pump, filter and meter
Wash area with potable and non-potable water hoses
Leo Lane, Vice President,  likes the convenience of being able to fill their mobile tanks on site instead of having to drive elsewhere to fill their tanks with non-potable water. The construction industry cannot use potable water for construction, so must haul water. He feels that for them, the savings in labor costs from having his employees drive to purchase non-potable water more than pays for the system. Leo Lane holds the certification now required to install such systems. He feels other business may also benefit from the convenience of having a rainwater harvesting system. In addition, homeowners who do not have access to city water or other reliable water supply could benefit. This system might also be useful for pool owners.

Only non-potable water is used in toilets and urinals
Next, Clayton showed me their solar power system. James Lane has 4000 sq ft of solar panels installed on their roof. In March, they had a credit on their electric bill. They still pay a distribution charge, but they are actually sending electricity back into the power grid. They also did an upgrade to more efficient lighting. They purchase power at 7.2 cents and sell it at 7.5 cents. If they were producing more electricity in March than they used, it will be interesting to see what happens in August.

Converters for solar power
When their system was installed, they iued a company from the DFW area. However, Clayton reported that local company Davis Electric is now able to do solar installations. 

4000 sq feet of solar panels supply energy
Clayton said that their installation of solar and rainwater systems is about making the company more resilient. In cases of power outages or other natural disasters, they have to remain in operation to get homeowners and businesses back in operation. People need heat, water and air conditioning. Therefore, their business has to remain in operation. These systems are one more way to ensure they can be there when needed.

I would love to hear about what other companies are doing to be more sustainable.