EBSCO Publishing Shines Light on Solar Power and Corporate Responsibility

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Ipswich, Massachusetts company looks beyond the cost to add solar power to a widening array of "green" initiatives; Massachusetts companies supply the components.

solar panels

EBSCO has demonstrated genuine social and corporate leadership by choosing to invest in green energy despite being ineligible for the generous grants offered to customers of public utilities in Massachusetts.

The sun shining over the Ipswich River means more than just another beautiful New England day to one Massachusetts company -- it means power. EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) has installed a photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof of their historic mill building on Union Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This system is among the largest installations on the North Shore of Boston and provides year-round electricity harvested from the sun. The solar panel project is one of many green initiatives EBSCO has instituted to decrease the company's impact on the environment.

The 192 solar panels, mounted on the roof of the Quartz Building on Union Street, feed power directly into the building, offsetting the amount of "brown power" that the company buys from the grid. When the sun shines, the system supplements enough electricity to power about 50 average homes. EBSCO's 192 module system will generate approximately 41,300 kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually. This is the equivalent of 37,170 lbs of CO2 emissions, the leading cause of global warming, per year.

Tim Collins, President of EBSCO Publishing says the solar panels are the largest and most visible corporate initiative, but EBSCO's commitment to its green initiatives started small. "We started by forming a team of employees to discuss our goals and make suggestions. We have made changes as small as buying company mugs and water bottles for all of our employees to cut down on paper and Styrofoam waste. We've also made larger decisions such as changing our corporate fleet over to hybrid cars." Collins says being environmentally responsible is an important part of EBSCO's corporate culture. "The solar panels are part of our overall decision to decrease our environmental footprint, but we will continue to explore other environmentally-friendly options."

Federal and State grants can make it easier on companies wondering about the costs involved. Dan Leary, President of NexGen Energy Solutions says EBSCO was not eligible to receive grants for public utility customers from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) which would have offset a portion of the cost but made the decision based on the long-term benefits and not the cost, "EBSCO has demonstrated genuine social and corporate leadership by choosing to invest in green energy despite being ineligible for the generous grants offered to customers of public utilities in Massachusetts."

How the System Works
PV systems are carefully engineered to convert this free energy into electricity that is readily usable by homes and businesses. Solar modules, made of silicon, glass, and aluminum absorb photons from the sun creating a voltage potential. When the modules are connected in a circuit, direct current (DC) electricity flows, much like batteries in a flashlight. A special piece of equipment called an inverter must be used to turn the DC current into AC current which is used by the building. The inverter is located in the building and connected into the main power panel. When the sun shines, electricity back-feeds the meter, offsetting the amount of electricity drawn from the grid. If the solar array is making more power than the building uses, the meter spins backwards crediting the owner's account.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
EBSCO used local labor and components from local manufacturers, coincidentally some of the best quality renewable energy businesses in the world.

The concept of solar power for EBSCO was presented by Meridian Associates of Beverly, MA who provided site assessment, permitting, and laser scanning images of the roof. Meridian partnered with NexGen Energy Solutions of North Andover, MA who provided turn-key integration of the system. NexGen is a Veteran-owned and operated renewable energy integration company that supports businesses, homes, and municipal clients, recently completing some of the largest solar arrays in Massachusetts. The PV modules are designed and manufactured in Marlborough, MA by Evergreen Solar. Evergreen has perfected a manufacturing technique that has allowed the company to excel to world-wide distribution. The inverters are designed and manufactured in Lawrence, MA, by Solectria Renewables (also in a renovated historic mill building). The Solectria inverters installed at EBSCO were just given highest efficiency ranking in the world from the California Energy Commission.

Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), will attend the unveiling of the solar panel array. "Today, I will join with local and state officials to congratulate EBSCO and the many contributing MA organizations that have worked hard to develop and expand the concept of 'green jobs' and whose personal 'energy' has greatly advanced this idea. EBSCO's commitment to the benefits of a cleaner, greener economy can now be shared by the broader Commonwealth construction and design community. They have demonstrated that the return in energy saving helped by 'green jobs' can be enormous and the positive impact on lives from rewarding employment can be priceless." Congressman Tierney co-authored the recently passed Green Jobs Act of 2007, which authorizes $125 million to help America develop a specialized green collar work force.

The Building's Rich History
The solar panels are the latest chapter in the history of a building once celebrated as helping the United States win World War II. The Quartz Building, now part of EBSCO's downtown Ipswich campus, was part of the Sylvania plant during the war. The site was once shrouded in mystery as it created proximity fuses for ordinances. Gone is the secrecy and the blacked-out windows. The site is now home to one of the most-used, subscription reference tools available; EBSCOhost®. EBSCOhost databases are used in colleges, libraries, schools, hospitals and corporations around the world.

EBSCO Publishing is the world's premier database aggregator, offering a suite of more than 200 full-text and secondary research databases. Through a library of tens of thousands of full-text journals, magazines, books, monographs, reports and various other publication types from renowned publishers, EBSCO serves the content needs of all researchers (Academic, Medical, K-12, Public Library, Corporate, Government, etc.). The company's product lines include proprietary databases such as Academic Search™, Business Source®, CINAHL®, DynaMed™, Literary Reference Center™, MasterFILE™, NoveList®, SocINDEX™ and SPORTDiscus™ as well as dozens of leading licensed databases such as ATLA Religion Database™, EconLit, MEDLINE®, MLA International Bibliography, PsycARTICLES® and PsycINFO®. Databases are powered by EBSCOhost®, the most-used for-fee electronic resource in libraries around the world. For more information, visit the EBSCO Publishing Web site at: http://www.ebscohost.com.

EBSCO Publishing is a division of EBSCO Industries Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.


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