Burlington Press, a Printing Company to Run its Business on Solar Power

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Burlington Press, a commercial printing and marketing services company in Burlington City, NJ has completed a solar project to power their building with the sun. The challenge of this project is that the building is located in a historic district and had to comply with the city's strict historic review process. Also during the project’s development the SREC (solar renewable energy certificates) fell from $500 per megawatt to under $150 which increased the payback period and virtually eliminated any possible extra income that the project could have generated.

Burlington Press is a commercial printing and marketing services company. From its founding the company has built its production processes around conserving energy and reducing waste.

Approximately a year ago, owners Richard and Vivian Lewis started the process of installing solar arrays on their building. The goal was to have clean, renewable solar power provide all of the company's electric needs. While the original configuration met that goal, as the project evolved the design needed to be changed.

The first concern was to make the solar arrays invisible from the street so as to not mar the look of the historic district where the building is located. Working with Burlington City's Historic Commission they were able to come up with an alternative that satisfied this and the stringent requirements of the Burlington City Historic District.

The second challenge posed were the trees on neighboring properties that would shade the panels and make them inefficient. The redesigned project allowed 27 panels on the building's roof. In order to provide additional power a car port was built in the parking lot with an additional 30 high capacity solar panels on its roof. Although the redesign did not meet the goal of 100% solar power, the business expects to generate 80 to 90% of its power from the solar arrays without a historic building that is marred by obviously visible solar panels.

Although saving energy and reducing the demand on natural resources was always the number one concern of the project, the money generated by [SREC (solar renewable energy certificates) credits gave an incentive of a much faster payback and the ability to generate additional income for the business. SREC credits are sold to local power companies who do not meet the state's requirements for generating power via renewable solar power. Every Megawatt generated by privately built solar projects creates a credit that is sold on an auction basis to the utilities.

The SREC credits fell from $500 per megawatt hour to less that $150 during the planning process. The company’s management gave some thought to abandoning the project because the payback period of the project went from 2.5 years to over 7 years, but decided to keep the project on track because the primary purpose is to make the business as green as possible.

Burlington Press is a leading area provider of marketing services to small and medium sized businesses Richard and Vivian Lewis founded the company in 1993. Their core business is graphic communication. Richard Lewis, general manager says, “We started out as a printing company, but as more ways of communication evolved over the years we added services in order to meet the graphic communications needs of our customers.” In addition to traditional printing services, the company also provides website design and development, email marketing, search engine optimization and other on-line and traditional marketing services. Lewis says, “We believe in the success of small business and provide effective marketing tools in order to ensure that success.”

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