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Farm-Way - Vermont Gear Invests in Solar Energy


Farm-Way Inc   - Getting Greener  2018

     Many things influenced us in the decision to go solar, around ten years ago. Be it from our customers that were pursuing solar  or were involved in some aspect of green energy themselves, to the expansion only a few years earlier of our retail store of approximately 70% increase in square footage, and as of 2015 another 18000+ sq.ft. which resulted in much more energy consumption with the additional utilities encompassed { air handling ,heating, cooling and lighting}.
     These things along with our own growing concern of our environment led us to take the step towards dissolving a large portion of our impact at our community level , though at the time we began pursuing solar , the economy had been  on the decline.
          We now are producing a total of 132KW of power , which will accommodate 100%+ of our power needs , even after our major expansion , which now houses our new footwear department and accommodates our inventory receiving and warehouse needs that we had outgrown.
   We had begun the original construction of the first system in mid October of 2008 , and had begun collecting power from our system by the beginning of January 2009.
     That was a 58 kilowatt system and is constructed with 308 panels in a portion of our adjacent field, leaving room for our most recent expansion of 74 Kilowatts ,which now compensates for100% of our electrical utility needs.
      Farm-Way and “Vermont Gear" { our retail web site}, with the help of the "Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund", have invested over $450,000 in our first solar panel project from the  Gro Solar company in WRJ, Vermont.
   The newest solar array was completed mid July 2015 by “Catamount Solar “ ,consisting of 74kw of power at a cost of $253,000 …..a fraction of the cost of the 2008 project per KW { 50% more for 50% less $ } due to many factors such as metal posts that are driven in the ground vs. large cement piers to hold them , and imported pv panels .
     Our utility usage is over $35000 per year , and with our solar production , we  save that amount annually , on the total $835,000 investment into our pasture of power.
           To help raise awareness, and promote education, we will have a public video monitor at our entryway providing continually updated views of the systems output and easily understood information on the benefits of solar. We have also linked our web site to the data and output information in real time, as it happens as you can see on our web page.  
    We are extremely excited about this renewable energy endeavor , and even more so as we note our compensation for utility power that will be generated annually on our own property.
          Our future plans are already in progress or completed, by becoming more energy proficient with the help of “ Efficiency Vermont” , by upgrading to more energy efficient lighting in our main store and our adjacent “ County Gifts and Furniture” store , entailing the replacement of over  110  fixtures using 60% less energy.    “Farm-Way Inc.” is dedicated to protecting the environment, along with the health and safety of our employees, and the community in which we carry out our business. 
    Our newest addition has all been accomplished using recommended heating/cooling utilities from Efficiency Vermont along with automated occupancy lighting.
      It is our strategy to seek improvements throughout our business operations to minimize our impact on the local and global environment by conserving energy and other natural resources; reducing waste generation; recycling and purchasing recycled products; and reducing our use of toxic materials. We are dedicated to prevention of pollution, continual improvement and meeting or exceeding all environmental regulatory requirements that we find possible.”
   We also give preference to suppliers whose products follow our strategy above , based upon recycled components , etc. which we have experienced and taken advantage of in some of our footwear ,clothing and outdoor furniture lines.
      One of our ventures was converting all of our fluorescent tube bulbs { over 200 } to LED  lighting tubes in the store in the past few  years ,from www.leddynamics.com {made in VT !} We were one of the first to partner with them back in 2008 when the bulbs were over $100 each……. And now are available in the $30-$50 range { and still VT made}.
     LEDs are the first light source in history that do not require heat to generate light. This significant factor attributes to LEDs status as the most efficient light source known to mankind, next to the sun. They are solid state light engines, requiring no filaments or glass, which makes them extremely rugged and shock resistant. They also last up to 100,000 hours, at least 10x as long as most forms of conventional illumination , are 80% more energy efficient than standard lighting.    They also can illuminate in any color of the visual spectrum, and do not require gels to do so. They are fully programmable, and able to emit 16,000,000 colors in any pattern imaginable. NO MERCURY.
    LEDs can operate in harsh environments and withstand temperatures ranging from -40 c to +85 c, and are extremely rugged and shock resistant, unlike filament bulbs. They are environmentally friendly, and unlike Metal Halide, HPS/LPS, and Fluorescent bulbs, do not require mercury or toxic and flammable gases to operate. 
  In  2012 , we  replaced all existing exterior lights from incandescent versions into LED units , with the help of “Efficiency Vermont”. 
   The life expectancy is a guarantee of five years and should perform adequately for up to 20 years.
      We also have taken on the feat of cleaning two properties we purchased in the past , that were contaminated from previous  owners {18000 gallons #6 fuel oil found in two vintage buried railroad tankers was one project }, and will be seeing them considered as environmentally safe by the EPA , by years end .
Farm-way has  also become a “Vermont Business Environmental  Partner”, and is taking many steps to do our share in protecting the environment by recycling refuse materials with “zero sort” , upgrading our lighting to more energy efficient versions , using recycled paper , and practicing standard energy reductions in electricity usage.