Earth Week: Day 2 – OWC’s Rich History of Sustainable Business Practices

Sustainability Is Good Business

OWC believes that environmental stewardship is 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. The company currently recycles 94 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.

Wind Power

Vestas V39-500kW wind turbine at OWC company headquarters
Vestas V39-500kW wind turbine at OWC company headquarters

Clean, limitless, and efficient, OWC’s 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 194-foot-tall turbine generates about 815,000kW of electricity per year. Depending on the time of year, it can generate more power than what is consumed at the Woodstock location, where most of OWC’s team members work. The excess power flows out to the local power grid, providing a renewable source of energy to other energy consumers in McHenry County.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

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 reverse during cold weather months, preheating the liquid for heat pumps to produce heat.

Solar Power

Solar array on the roof of OWC company headquarters
Solar array on the roof of OWC company headquarters

OWC has also adopted solar power as an energy source at its two largest locations in Woodstock and Austin, TX. The solar system in Woodstock 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 arrays 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 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.

Bottom Line

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, but it also allows us to do so with a high return on investment in power generation.

Earth Week 2020 @ OWC
Day 1 – The Birthday of Earth Day
Day 2 – OWC’s Rich History of Sustainable Business Practices
Day 3 – OWC Celebrates Earth Day’s 50th With Continued Green Leadership
Day 4 – OWC Supports Projects Promoting Environmental Awareness

OWC Mark C
the authorOWC Mark C
Content Marketing Manager
A creative by nature, Mark is a writer, programmer, web developer, musician, culinary craftsman, and interpersonal artisan. He loves the outdoors because greenspace is to the soul as whitespace is to the written word. He does not like Diophantine geometry or mosquitos. Most everything else is okay. Oh yeah, he is also the managing editor of the Rocket Yard blog.
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