Real Pickles greening with Greening Greenfield’s Challenge
Real Pickles Joins the Greenfield 10% Challenge
GREENFIELD, MA – Last week Real Pickles, in Greenfield, MA, joined the Greenfield 10% Challenge. Dan Rosenberg, co-owner of Real Pickles gave Nancy Hazard of the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee, a tour of their new facility to learn what they had done to reduce their energy use by at least 10%. “I was amazed at Dan’s commitment, attention to detail and what he has been able to do with constrained finances.”
Dan’s philosophy is to live lightly on the Earth. In his words he says, “We have ecological concerns. As a business we have a responsibility to have the smallest ecological footprint possible.”
He and his partner, Addie Holland, also have a responsibility to run a profitable business. “We applied for a lot of grants, and made decisions carefully. We got a lot of help from the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Renaissance Builders, a grant-writer, and friends and business associates, but in the end we had to do the number-crunching and figure out what were the best things to do from both a business and ecological point of view.” Major grants came from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy For America (REAP) program, electric and gas companies, and other federal and state incentives.
“It took us three years to find and move into this facility. We wanted to reuse an existing building, rather than build new, because it uses less energy and materials overall,” said Dan. They finally found a 12,000 square foot 100-year old industrial building across the street from their home at the Franklin County Community Development Corp (CDC) business incubator facility on Wells Street.
The most noticeable thing about their building is a large solar electric array with 80 panels on a west-facing roof. “These panels meet 100% of our electrical needs, but we did a lot inside before we could make this happen.”
Rosenberg started the building tour by pointing out two 12” holes high up on the side of the building that make it possible for their 6000 cubic foot walk-in cooler, which is kept at 39F, to use outside air and use 60% less electricity than a conventional cooler. The cooler walls are built from insulating panels recycled from two older coolers. The compressors they are using are old, but the key to low energy use is the Freeaire Refrigeration system from Vermont that takes over when the outside temperature drops to 37F or lower. They also upgraded the evaporator fan motors and added two very efficient air-circulating fans that make it possible to shut down the evaporator fans much of the time.
The lights are the next largest user of electricity in the building. When the building was gutted, it revealed a huge skylight in what became their warehouse. They installed T-5 fluorescent lighting fixtures in the high warehouse ceilings, and low wattage T-8s in lower ceilinged halls, kitchen and office spaces. All the lights are on occupancy sensors that turn on when there is movement in the room. The lights near the skylight have photo sensors so they are only on when it is too dark outside. Office and kitchen equipment use only a tiny amount of electricity.
“We got our electric bill down to $3500 per year before we installed our PV panels. Now we are spending far less than that while we pay off our loan and continue to pay WMECO for their interconnect services. We expect to have our PV system paid off within 5 years. The solar panels should last at least 25 years, and likely they will last much longer.”
Heating and hot water are the other major energy users. Today, they spend about $3,000 a year for heat and hot water. They found that the oil-fired hot air furnace in the 1950’s addition, which houses Real Pickles kitchen and office, was in pretty good condition, so they left it the way it was. “We replaced the electric hot water heater with a gas-fired on-demand hot water system that costs us about $15-25 per month. We love it!”
The 100-yr old building had a very old oil furnace. They installed an efficient gas-fired heating and electric cooling system in the 5000 square feet space being used by their tenant Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics. In the 4000 square foot warehouse, they installed two ceiling-hung propane-fired hot air units. During pickling season, they need an even 65F for the fermentation process. During their off-season in winter, they drop the temperature back to 50F. Last year, they added four very efficient ceiling fans that run 24/7 to help keep the temperature even. “We did not see any change to the electric bill when we added those units, yet they have noticeably reduced our gas usage,” said Dan.
While they could not afford to add insulation everywhere, they added insulation when they had to repair about 2000 square feet of the flat roof on the old building. “It is a no-brainer to add insulation when replacing a roof. We used foam boards to go to R-40,” noted Dan. To give perspective, 6” of conventional fiberglass insulation gives an R-18. The whole roof replacement job cost about $20,000. Of that $5,400 was for insulation, and Berkshire gas paid for half of that, bringing the cost of insulation to $2,700, which will be paid off in energy savings in a couple of years. They also added a double-walled sheet of lexan at the ceiling level to stop heat leaking from the old skylight.
“Our next energy-related dream is to better insulate the building,” said Dan. “We will likely replace the rest of the roof in the old building in another 5 years, which will create an opportunity to insulate the rest of the roof. We are just taking it step by step.”
The Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) would like to congratulate Dan, his partner, and staff on the fabulous job they have done to reduce their energy use. As Dan points out on his web site, reducing energy use “moves our society forward in pursuit of cleaner air, greater community self-reliance, and a more stable global climate.” To find out more about Real Pickles, their facility and their products go to www.realpickles.com <http://www.realpicles.com> or stop by your local food market!
GGEC, creator of the 10% Challenge works with the Town of Greenfield to use ‘greening’ as the economic and inspirational engine to build a sustainable Greenfield so current and future generations can enjoy life in this beautiful abundant valley. To find out more about GGEC, the 10% Challenge, and a list of other businesses that have joined the 10% Challenge go to www.GreeningGreenfield.org <http://www.