A lot of people talk the talk when it comes to saving the environment, but one Mount Airy company is walking the walk.
SouthData, Inc., located on Riverside Drive, has spent tens of thousands of dollars over the last few years to make the company as energy-efficient and earth-friendly as possible, according to Facility Manager Mark Anderson.
Some of those changes involve installing 42 solar panels on the roof of the facility, installing more energy-efficient lighting and making recycling a priority, Anderson said.
The company, a national document management provider, spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 to install the solar panels on its roof, enough to produce 13,700 kilowatt-hours of power a year.
“It’s not enough to power the plant by any means,” Anderson said. “We’d initially looked at the possibility of using solar power to power our computer servers in the building, but in order to do that we’d have to install enough batteries to collect it. So what we’re doing is sending all the power we produce to Duke Energy and we receive a rebate.”
That rebate amounts to around $6,000 a year, Anderson said.
“It’s not really saving us that much money, it was more about being environmentally friendly than offsetting income,” he said.
The impetus for the earth-friendly move came from President and CEO John Springthorpe.
“When we were looking at using solar power to run the server room, he took a course in solar power to learn more about it,” Anderson said. “Once he started learning, we decided we wanted to do it for the environmental factor.”
As any business, the bottom line was always in the back of their minds, Anderson said, but Springthorpe said the positives outweighed the negatives.
“I don’t think the cost involved with installing the solar panels was that much of a concern during the process,” he said. “It became about protecting the Earth and being good corporate citizens.”
Being earth-friendly also involved changing all the lighting in the building to more energy-efficient lighting and focusing on recycling.
“We’re recycling more and more every day,” he said. “Every scrap of paper in this building that doesn’t have a name and address on it gets recycled.”
In addition to paper, the company also recycles aluminum and any other items that can be re-used.
The recycling efforts also are paying big dividends on the bottom line, according to the facilities manager.
“Before we started recycling, we were paying around $8,000 a month to take away garbage,” he said. “Now that’s about $130 a month for the one dumpster we actually put trash into.”
For Anderson, the efforts to protect the environment are “part of what (SouthData) is all about.”
“In our day-to-day business, we use trees and electricity, and in order to give something back it seemed like it was the only right thing to do,” he said. “We wanted to quit taking up landfill space and recycle these products. It’s the way we operate.
“We’re trying to save where we can,” Anderson added. “Not only for the money, but because it’s the right thing to do. Simple changes can make a big difference, not only for the bottom line, but for the planet.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.