OWC believes that environmental stewardship is not only the right thing to do for future generations, it also makes good economic sense. OWC has worked tirelessly to build sustainable practices into all levels of our business operations. The economic reality is that, with careful planning and a little team effort, sustainability is synonymous with success.
OWC has always sought to provide customers with products that allow them to maximize the longevity of their technology products and to improve the performance of those products. Since 2003 OWC has worked to extend this approach to its business operations, with the result that the company currently recycles 97 percent of its solid waste materials, received LEED® Platinum Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute in 2010, and in 2015 we reached our goal of generating more power than we consume.
Clean, limitless and efficient, OWC’s own wind turbine is the foundation of our environmentally responsible, alternative energy efforts. The company kicked off its alternative, on-site energy program with the installation of a Vestas V39-500kW wind turbine in 2009 at company headquarters in Woodstock, IL. OWC quickly became the first manufacturer/distributor in the U.S. to become 100% on-site wind powered. The wind turbine alone in Woodstock generates more power than is consumed at this location, where most of OWC’s team members work. For example, in November 2015, the wind turbine produced 73kW of electricity while the Woodstock facility consumed just 49kW of electricity. The excess power flows out to the local power grid, providing a renewable source of energy to other energy consumers in McHenry County.
The 194-foot-tall turbine generates about 815,000kW of electricity per year. Depending on the time of year, the turbine can produce up to more than twice the power that is consumed by the headquarters building. Over a year’s time, the average excess power generation is approximately 10 percent.
The turbine turns only in a clockwise direction when the winds are at a minimum of nine miles per hour. The average wind speed where the turbine is located is 12-14 miles per hour. During periods when the winds exceed 75 miles per hour, the blades go into a feathering mode – they turn flat and track the wind’s direction, which offers the least resistant profile into the wind.
During normal operations, the blades will spin at 30 revolutions per minute (rpm). This translates to a speed of 136 miles per hour for the end tip of the blades. The maximum speed is 37 rpm, which converts to a tip speed of 170 miles per hour.
The life span of a turbine is based on its level of maintenance, and OWC provides the highest level of maintenance for servicing of its turbine.
OWC headquarters in Woodstock utilizes a geothermal heating and cooling system, similar to a home heat pump and AC combination. Unlike a standard system, which typically uses a chemical refrigerant and compressor to cool the interior space, our geothermal system uses an environmentally safe, biodegradable liquid in a closed loop so there is never any risk of pollution.
The liquid is pumped through about three miles of tubing with geo-wells set more than 250 feet deep, moving from the building to the ground and back, day after day, year after year. If the liquid has become warmer in the summer when passing through the building, it will give up that heat to the earth, 250 feet below the surface, where it is always a range of 47 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. The process works in the reverse during cold weather months, preheating the liquid for heat pumps to produce heat.
Geothermal Climate Management. Environmentally safe liquid is pumped throughout deep geo-wells for year-round, energy efficient heating and cooling.
Go ahead - call us obsessive. Not content with harnessing the power of the wind and earth, OWC has also adopted solar power as an energy source at its two largest locations in Woodstock and Austin, TX. Most recently, in 2015, we installed and activated a solar power system in Woodstock to augment the wind power system. The solar system consists of 770 American-made Sun Power solar panels installed on the roof of the building, making it one of the largest privately-owned solar array in Illinois.
The solar system will generate 265,000kW per year, when combined with power from the wind turbine it brings the Woodstock headquarters’ total alternative power generation capacity to over one million kilowatts. It also means that over the course of a year, OWC produces more power than it consumes.
A similar but smaller array is on the roof of the Austin building. Energized at the beginning of 2014, 160 solar panels generate approximately one-third of the power consumed by this three-story building, including the majority of power that is consumed by the third floor occupied by OWC.
As in Woodstock, excess power that accrues during low usage periods is put out onto the Austin Energy grid. The project not only solidified OWC’s reputation as a leader in utilizing green technology, but it also helps to explain why the tech firm has fit in so well since it expanded into Austin about three years ago.
The bottom line is that with wind and solar power generation combined with extreme energy efficiency in all of our locations, OWC is a total net producer of renewable energy - as our energy production surpasses our year-on-year energy requirements. Not only does this allow OWC to operate an environmentally sustainable business, it also allows us to do so with a high return on investment in power generation.