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Traverse City Business News | Green Scene: Companies look for savings with environmental sustainability

The green scene: Companies look for savings with environmental sustainability

In the case of the bottom line, green is the new black.

Ed Belanger, director of plant operations at Munson, said the creation of an energy conservation team there in 2008 paved the way for environmental and cost savings.

“Our initial scores on natural gas and electricity use were 23 out of 100,” he said. “It was the worst quartile.”

He said the health complex has worked and updated on a number of related issues, including LED lighting upgrades, boiler tune-ups, switching to environmentally sensitive cleaning products, and installing daytime and occupancy sensors in operating rooms.

“It was a big one,” he said of the operating room sensor.

In order to maintain a sterile environment, the air in the OR is constantly under pressure.

“We have 20 air exchanges every hour. It pushes the air away from the sterile environment, ”he said. “When no one is there, we reduce it to six. It saves a ton of energy. “

The construction of the LEED-certified Cowell Family Cancer Center in 2016 also addressed such concerns, integrating issues such as the use of electrically charged water to clean floors, which means no additional chemicals are needed.

The result of all the ongoing efforts?

Referring to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s long-term energy-saving program, Belenger said, “By 2019, we have become an ENERGY star.” “We went from 23 to 78. We’re in the top quarter of Midwest Hospital for energy use.”

In terms of its size, the power gains for Mitchell Graphics in Petoski and Travers City have been more modest than Monson’s. But they still influence the company’s bottom line and shape the company’s culture, owner Gary Fedas says.

“It was a big part of our culture from the beginning,” he said.

For the printing company, a major concern is to recover and reuse all products that might otherwise go to landfill.

So they’ve partnered with Emmett County to help develop its waste management and recycling programs, he says.

“We recycle almost every part of our waste for personal use, starting with carpets and plastics – my kind bar wrapper is recycled every day,” he said.

This green mentality has also influenced recent office reforms.

“We recycled, reused or gave away everything we had,” he said.

The company has been in business for 50 years, and Fedas has been in charge since 2006.

“Since I was running it, (concern for the environment) was at the forefront,” he said.

The company has joined Petosky’s proposed program to provide electricity generated by renewable sources. Fedas says it will use up to 50% of its electricity usage, although he admits it is a bit more expensive.

When it comes to electricity, the region’s largest power company, Consumer Energy, is trying to do its part.

“The big thing is our clean energy plan,” said Josh Patrick, a media spokesman for consumers, referring to the company’s plans to be coal-free by 2025.

He said that using a combination of solar, wind and hydropower would ultimately be more affordable and more stable than using fossil fuels. The utility plans to generate 8,000 MW from solar by 2040.

“It’s cost-stable,” he said. “There are more fluctuations in the (current) market.”

He said consumers’ power-saving products and practices – from LED bulbs to hydro power provided by Ludington pump storage facilities – provide cost-saving opportunities for the utility and its customers.

“We’re the only company in America that wants people to use our products less,” Patrick said. “It puts less demand on the power grid.”

In Frankfurt, the owners of StormCloud Brewing Company have restored their purchased building with LED lights and launched a commuter program for employees that rewards them for not driving cars or trucks for their work.

“It’s part of our core mission,” said Rick Smith, who opened the brewpub with Brian Confer in 2013.

The pair have since launched a new distillery facility east of the city. Not only did they install LED lights and an 8-kilowatt solar energy system, the facility was engineered with a light tube that penetrates the facility in broad daylight. Smith said most days they don’t even have to turn on the lights. It even has a car-charging station.

You will find several car charging stations at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa.

“More and more people are using our chargers,” said Jim McInes, who owns the resort with his wife, Chris. “I can go 40 miles for 1. It’s a good thing these days. “

According to McInes, a trade engineer, the resort is working on ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

“When we build our last building, we use a closed-loop geothermal heat pump to heat and cool,” he said. The five-mile pipe is reminiscent of what has been done to make snow, where larger pipes mean less friction and more snow at less horsepower.

And yes, lots of LEDs. McInes says they have installed 300 LED lights at the Crystal Conference Center.

“We save enough energy of 200,000 miles a year on a Chevy Volt,” MacInnes said.

At TentCraft, decisions that directly benefit the company and its customers also have environmental benefits.

“The biggest thing is that since 2018, we’ve been creating everything at home,” said Andrew Dodson, the company’s content marketing and public relations manager.

He said the company could control the quality of all its components and processes.

“Our competitors import tent frames from China with different levels of quality,” he said. “We hear all the time from customers that they are sick to leave their tents because they have broken down so easily.”

The promise of quality and recycling extends to its own waste material. TentCraft’s partnership with PriorLife, a division of Britten, enables its overprinted vinyl to be used for tote bags.

“We’ve recycled 50,000 pounds of metal since 2019, returning more than 12,100,” Dodson said.

Most metals are aluminum, which they say is almost infinitely recyclable. Kelly Yawk, Digital Marketing Manager, says TentCraft’s aluminum source comes only from suppliers who use at least 70% of recycled material.

TentCraft is also piloting a logistics program for outdoor product retailer REI. Instead of buying a new tent to open each store, TentCraft holds the tents after use and then sends them to the next new store.

This kind of program and its tents are so long lasting that these companies or clients will not buy so many tents from TentCraft.

“But (our customers) make us the best salesperson,” says Yauk.

To the east of Traverse City, the new headquarters of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) has many green features, including high-efficiency insulation, a geothermal system for heating and cooling buildings, and smart electrical panels that reduce loads. When the building is not used.

Other innovations include collecting water from the roof, filtering it and then using it to flush toilets and irrigate local landscaping and site greenhouses. Solar panels on the ground are shaped to completely offset the use of projected energy. As an added benefit, the panels will provide protection from material for small flocks of goats that would call the ground home if not for other conservation of the invasive species.

David Foot, director of facilities at GTRLC, is hopeful that the many skills built into the conservation center will offset both energy use and cost. The goal is to hit energy consumption net-zero, he said.

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