Decision makers in various industries throughout the country are now considering renewable energy as an option in their organization’s strategic plan. US businesses are now making significant investments in solar to cut energy costs. In fact, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of mid-2013, there is a cumulative commercial distribution of 3,380 MW at over 32, 8000 facilities throughout the country.

At Standard Solar (SSI), our staff is regularly asked: ‘What do I need to know if my organization is considering solar? ’ So to really answer the question, we’ve asked our staff to weigh in on this question.  We had so much advise that we decided to the answer to this question into a mini blog series we’re calling ‘Solar 101’ to explore the key steps that a business should consider when interested in developing a solar project.

Step I When Developing a Successful Solar Project:
Determine the importance of renewable energy in your company’s strategic plan.

Consider what your company’s overall goals and strategic plans are for the upcoming year(s) and identify what role solar energy may play in those plans. Whether you are seeking LEED Platinum building certification or increasing your overall environmental commitments, deciding to go solar has exceptional benefits and can promote your organization’s image as leaders in environmental stewardship. One of SSI’s previous customers, Knorr Brake Corporation (KBC), actually built their new corporate headquarters with solar in mind!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering adding renewable energy to your company’s strategic plan:

  1. How important is renewable energy to your organization?  

Solar installations among businesses in the US has grown tremendously in the past few years. More companies are making the conscious      decision to reduce their business’ overall carbon footprint. Companies without existing renewable energy measures in place may want to review their vision and mission statements and establish a renewable energy target that falls in line with those goals.  A good way for a company to set renewable energy goals is by first determining their carbon footprint – you can get a rough estimate by using a carbon calculator.

2.   How can investing in a solar system be beneficial?

If you own the building in which your company resides– adding solar energy can be extremely beneficial. Solar energy not only offsets your organization’s energy usage but it also can reduce utility costs. For example, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) will be offsetting almost 30% of the energy produced at their two plants. System owners can also benefit from the tax credits and state incentives that are associated with owning a solar system. Solar energy offers energy security off the grid, it can provide stabilized utility costs for the next 20 years. As one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources, solar energy not only is good for the environment but is also beneficial to your businesses’ bottom line.

3.   How does executing and communicating your energy commitment work with your current and future outreach?

Determining your renewable energy investments is the first step to consider. Working with partners that are knowledgeable and experienced in solar will also positively support your company’s efforts in becoming a sustainable and eco-friendly business. Google is a great example of a top company that has made great strides in their environmental efforts.  There are a variety of ways that companies can promote their environmental stewardship, through marketing, social media, award recognition and most importantly through their clients. Implementing eco-friendly initiatives throughout the workplace helps to get the employees involved and they too will share with their friends and family. Establishing your business as leaders in environmental stewardship gives a company a competitive advantage. Once renewable energy is implemented into a company’s overall strategic plan, the next step is to consider the financial options available for investing in a solar system.

Check back with us in February to read about Step 2 of our The Key Steps in Developing a Successful Solar Project– Establishing Trusted Partnerships.