Cardinal Goes Green FAQ's
Why has Cardinal implemented its “going green” Initiative?
“We have invested in new green technology because it makes sense for our business and our planet. Fossil fuels are becoming scarcer and more expensive all the time, so there’s a very compelling economic reason to invest in developing alternate energy sources to power our plant, distribution center and offices. As concerned members of the human race, we also feel an obligation to protect our earth for future generations.”
How did you settle on using solar power?
“We chose to develop a solar collection system at our facility because solar power is so plentiful; enough sunlight falls on the earth’s surface each minute to meet the entire world’s energy demands for one year.”
What will be accomplished by installing a solar module system on the roof of Cardinal’s plant and home office?
“Installing this solar power collection system will allow our facility to operate completely off the power grid. We will be 100% energy self-sufficient and will no longer need to draw any power at all from our local utility. All of the power we need will be generated from our own solar modules. In fact, we’ll even be able to send some power back to the grid, so we will be net energy producers rather than consumers. Utilizing solar power not only lowers our utility costs; it provides us with extra energy to do things that might not have been feasible before, like air condition our factory, which greatly enhances employee morale. “
What’s the first step in installing the new solar collection system?
Before a solar system is installed, it’s important to reduce the energy consumption of a building and get it to the highest efficiency possible; otherwise you are just wasting a lot of the energy you will be generating.
The very first step was a complete energy audit by our contractor, IME of Temecula, CA. They evaluated every electrical component in the building. This was a 30 year old building, so you won’t be surprised to know that there were more energy efficient components for every thing in the building. IME presented replacements that would bring the building into high efficiency before they calculated the size of the solar system that would be needed to power our plant.
What was the biggest challenge in preparing the building for solar?
In terms of size, the biggest challenge was the roof. A roof is not only the largest area; it’s one of the most important factors in reducing energy loss and cooling a building. Since we needed to replace our roof, it was the perfect time for our roofing contractor, Highland Roofing of Baldwin Park CA, to apply a new “cool roof.” This is in compliance with California Title 24 roofing requirements. These requirements call for roofs that are made of insulated, highly reflective and highly emissive material that stays 50 to 60 degrees cooler than traditional roofs on hot summer days. Since these roofs are cooler, they reduce energy consumption by immediately lowering the temperature of the inside of the building by about 15 degrees on the hottest days. By having a cool roof, we are reducing the energy demands that will be made on our solar powered electrical system. This is the first step of a series of environmental upgrades that build on each other to save more and more energy.”
You mentioned the new Cool Roof will keep temperatures inside the building lower, reducing the temperature in the factory; have you taken other steps, aside from installing a solar power system to make the building more energy efficient?
“Yes. We installed new light fixtures that use highly efficient T-5HO lamps, which are much cooler and lower in wattage than our previous light fixtures.
We also installed new Sunoptics prismatic skylights that harvest daylight and spread it out over a larger area of the factory, reducing the use of electric light as much as 70 to 80% at certain times of the day. Diffusing sunlight to the work space also reduces a great deal of heat that is normally generated by electric lights, another building block that works to reduce the amount of energy needed overall.
There are new occupancy and motion sensors for all hallways and offices so we aren’t lighting rooms that aren’t being used. Highly efficient Goodman Air Conditioners replaced the ones for the offices and were added to cool the factory with a unique “sock system” that can deliver cool air over a very long distance. These high efficiency air conditioners use the environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant.”
How many solar modules will there be on Cardinal’s roof?
“There will be 320 Siliken aluminum framed modules, covering 5,440 square feet of space on our roof/. These panels are completely (all components) manufactured in the San Diego, CA, keeping jobs in America!”
Can you explain how the solar collection system works?
“The solar modules on the roof contain a series of electronically connected photovoltaic (PV) cells. When sunlight is absorbed by these PV cells it knocks electrons in their material loose. This allows the electrons to flow freely forming a Direct Current (DC). This current is collected by metal contacts in the PV cells, and directed by wiring to the SMA-ST-36 Sunny Tower Inverters in the parking lot of our facility. These towers convert the power from a Direct Current (DC) to an Alternating Current (AC) format that’s compliant with utility company standards. The AC power is then fed to our building, with excess power being sent directly to the utility company’s grid. Once the power is fed to our building, it’s used the same way as power purchased directly from the utility company.”
That’s quite an impressive change, did we miss anything?
There are a lot of other details, like replacing motors and installing new more efficient lighting in the offices, but we didn’t mention that the entire electric grid in the building is now managed by a computer software system that monitors and adjusts for the energy being used. It’s connected to a laser screen in the lobby so people can actually see the power being used and the computer turning things off and on.
How do you actually attach a solar system to the roof?
The Pro Solar Racking System with its patented Solar Wedge XD network was installed by our contractor, Innovative Mechanical & Electrical, Inc (Temecula, CA). This system has a structural attachment every 8' to prevent movement during earthquakes or high wind. After the roofer double checked all of the solar racking roof attachments for water integrity, the solar modules were attached in a portrait orientation on the racking system. Each module was connected in series according to a predetermined design. At this point the DC wiring was routed to the SMA ST-36 Sunny Tower Inverters located in the parking lo. This is where the power is converted from DC to utility compliant AC Power and fed to the building and grid.” Our President, Tony de Vos, personally installed the last two solar panels on the roof.
So is the “cool roof” totally covered by solar panels?
No, about 2/3rds of the roof has panels on it. However, they are positioned at the best angle for collecting the sun’s rays and plenty of sun still hits the roof around and behind the panels as the sun moves through the day, so the cool roof is totally functional.
Will Cardinal be taking other steps to go green?
“Absolutely – our commitment to being energy efficient and environmentally conscious is an ongoing process not a single event. Going off the power grid in our new building is an important step, but it’s only the beginning.” Next month we break ground on our new distribution center at 766 Ayon Avenue. We’ve been in the planning and permitting stage for a year and a half. The new building will be 70,000 square feet and will be powered by both geo-thermal and solar heat. It will be built using the standards laid out by the U.S. Green Building Council for its LEED program – Leaders in Environmental and Energy Design.
At the same time the new distribution center is being built, we’ll be adding the solar system to our current distribution center in Baldwin Park, CA.
Cardinal’s President and owner, Tony de Vos, has made a firm commitment to stepping into the future and taking advantage of the alternatives to fossil fuels that are readily available.
“It’s just a matter of making the right choice,” says de Vos. “The answers to renewable energy are all right here at our fingertips, it’s just choosing to make the commitment and follow through. It makes “sense” as well as “cents” for business owners to invest in renewable energy now. Energy costs are only going to go up in the coming years and there are incentives available to make it economically feasible now. Besides that, it gives you more control of your future costs and your future energy supply. It’s a good feeling all around. My employees are proud to work for a company that’s looking out for the comfort of their environment and protecting the future of their jobs.”
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