BY: G. DAVID SLOAD, ABC KEYSTONE PRESIDENT-CEO
When the ABC Keystone Board of Directors approved moving forward with our building expansion and renovations back in 2014, they did so with the priority of being good stewards of our resources and that of our energy consumption. The new building was designed and built with “green” in mind. In addition, there were components built in to accommodate future “green” initiatives.
When the building opened in the spring of 2015, it was quickly evident that many of these “green” features were incorporated. All site and shop lighting was done using LED fixtures. All new room lights were controlled with motion sensors, eliminating lights left on without someone in the space. Large expanses of glass were incorporated into the shop and classrooms, allowing those spaces to be used on certain days without lights. And all new HVAC equipment was designed to be energy efficient.
As we have looked at our utility bills over the last five years, our cost to operate per square foot is lower than it was in our original building. But that’s not the end of the story. Back in 2014, we designed the shop roof to accommodate solar by having it sloped in the proper direction to maximize the sun shining on the panels. In addition, the structure was designed to carry the additional load of panels. Unfortunately, the cost vs. payback in 2014 did not make sense.
Fast forward to the fall of 2020. As of December 3, the installation of a solar array will be completed and will be fully operational. We have entered into an agreement with ABC member Solar Renewable Energy LLC for this project. We will power, on average, between 60 and 65 percent of our electrical needs through this array. As we look forward, we will ultimately be saving energy costs. In addition, this will give us live systems for our apprenticeship program to utilize as part of their learning experience.
ABC Keystone likes to be first. We were the first ABC Chapter to own their own building. I believe we are the first to incorporate solar energy. We like to lead, and we are setting a great example and doing our part for the environment. Thanks to you, the members, and our Board of Directors, ABC Keystone is always at the forefront. To quote Chair Roger Brubaker, “This is what contributes to the It Factor.”