Solar Update 4

March 19, 2012 on 6:00 am | In Community, Solar | No Comments

The Solar (Photo Voltaic) project went online December 23, 2011 and we had our commissioning ceremony on January 30, 2012.  This event marked a major milestone for and me personally.  About four years ago, I stood in front of a packed filled with vendors, family, friends, customers and loyal supporters and vowed that we would have a company powered by the sun within five years.

The Solar Open House and Commissioning Ceremony.

Seton Claggett cutting the “grand opening ribbon” with several key people from Tucson Electric Power, Pima County, Technicians for Sustainability (the folks that put in our system) and the new Mayor of Tucson (Jonathan Rothschild).

As the economy turned in south in 2008 we forged on and were able to stay focused on the first core value in our company – Sustainability.  Here are some facts on our system:

  • 128 kW powered by 416 SunPower panels.
  • Produces the equivalent energy of 20 average sized homes in Tucson, AZ.
  • Saves about 9,000 gallons of water every month that would otherwise be used to make energy in a coal fire plant.
  • The system is currently producing 120% of our power requirements (this will go down during the summer months and we should net out 90-100%) and has produced a total of 51.2 MWh of energy since we turned on the system.
  • In the first three months we have saved the equivalent of:
    • 3,960 Gallon of Gasoline
    • 1.86 Tons of Methane
    • 39 Tons of Carbon Dioxide

A glimpse of the dashboard that monitors all aspects of our solar and water harvesting systems.

Swim, bike, run, powered by the sun.

Almost Done – Solar

January 12, 2012 on 7:50 am | In Giving Back, Solar | No Comments
Our solar project is almost done and, as with all construction, we have had a few delays; however our installer has kept us up to speed and in the loop. In a week or two we will be flipping the switch to our extremely impressive 128kW system. If you have missed the other updates, you can find them here: Solar Update #1, Solar Update #2, Fighting For Solar.
Please join us on January 30, 2012 at 4 pm as we flip the switch at our Solar Commissioning Open House!

Local Arizona steel workers begin erecting the large steel structure.

A steel worker working on a support beam.

One of the partially completed structures that will provide shade and hold many solar panels.

The completed steel structures anxiously awaiting the installation of 308 SunPower solar panels.

One of the first solar panels on the steel ground structure.

An electrician is busy putting some sweat into the install.

Almost done! Just a few more panels and some electrical to finish up.


December 23, 2011 on 11:29 am | In Solar | No Comments
Solar Panels on the roof at

Solar Panels on the roof at

Tucson has 284 days of sunlight per year. 284 opportunities to convert clean, waste-free, ultra-low impact solar power into environmentally responsible energy.
The solar farm built on the Headquarters in Tucson, Arizona is one of the largest private solar farms in the U.S. Over 90% of’s energy is clean, renewable, ultra-low impact solar. The project to convert to solar took nearly a year to complete, and longer to plan. When the last panels were erected in fall of 2011 the energy consumption footprint of was reduced to near zero.
The local renewable energy specialists at Technicians for Sustainability installed the 128 kilowatt system on the roof and in front of’s headquarters and warehouse in Tucson. There are 416 panels pointing south toward the arc of the sun through the Arizona sky during all seasons.
Solar is one more part of’s commitment to the environment. It is renewable, safe energy for the future of our business, community and our desert landscape.

Solar Parking lot panels near completion

Fighting for Solar

November 15, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Community, Giving Back, Random Musings, Solar | No Comments

There are three things in life I will fight for:

1)      My family and friends.

2)      My business.

3)      The environment.

This is a story relating to #3 on my list.

Earlier this year we made the decision to install solar on our building. By June we had selected a vendor (Technicians For Sustainability) and by early July we had started the permitting process. This also included submitting plans to our BOA (Business Owners Association – it’s like a Home Owners Association but for the area our facility is located – the Butterfield Business Park). Fast forward to October and all of the permits, structural drawings, etc. were completed, which included getting a variance from the city because one of the structures holding the solar will go a couple feet into the easement of our property. We were contacted by TFS that they were ready to begin, what an exciting time – STOP! The day before we were to start construction we were contacted by our BOA that the architectural review committee, headed up by a local architect here in Tucson, decided to decline the installation of our project.  Why? They stated a couple reasons, but mainly because you can see the solar panels from the road.

Yes, bureaucracy (and complete arrogance) at its best. Luckily the state of Arizona has a law that protects us – A.R.S. § 33-1816; however, it is a fight that I didn’t think we would have to address, especially considering the BOA had over 3 months to address the issue. Needless to say, we are proceeding with the project without the blessing of our BOA. This is for the environment, this is for my kids, this is for our future.

Solar Update #2

November 8, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Community, Solar | 1 Comment
The solar installation is moving very quickly. Here are some great pictures of the progress:

With all construction there is some mess. Several trenches needed to be dug to house the conduit.

Many days of pounding heard from our offices resulted in the structure on the roof to hold the solar panels.

Heavy lifting – we needed a crane to lift the 164 panels onto the roof.

Moving the panels for prep.

A technician inspects his installation.

One of the completed solar arrays.

Starting the work for the ground mounted structures, drilling the 11’ deep cores to support the steel structure. is going Solar

October 11, 2011 on 6:00 am | In Announcements, Community, Solar | 2 Comments
By Seton Claggett
Swim. Bike. Run…..Powered by the Sun. Yes, after a couple years of trying to make this happen, is going solar. We started this venture several months ago and we are about to the fun part of the project – the installation! Our new system will be 128kW and will provide 88-92% of our power. With some more conservation efforts internally I think we can find a way to cover the extra 8-12%.
The system is being installed by Technicians For Sustainability (TFS), they are a local company that rose to the top in our interview/bidding process and are most in-line with our core values. We have chosen to go with SunPower panels as they are some of the most efficient panels on the market and perform exceptionally well in the Arizona sun. There are going to be 416 of these panels spread across our roof and two parking structures. As we did with our water harvesting system last year, we will be posting progress updates to keep you in the loop.

Being a Green Business

September 26, 2011 on 10:03 am | In Community, Giving Back, Life at, Solar, Water | 5 Comments
What does being “green” really mean? It is quite trendy to be green nowadays, so you hear it everywhere, but how do you know if a business you frequent cares about the environment? Here at, Sustainability is number one on our list of Core Values, and it encompasses everything we do, and have been doing, since we began back in 2000. We were just nominated for a contest for “Arizona’s Greenest Workplace Challenge” on Mrs. Green’s World, a local radio show. Given that, I wanted to take a moment and let everyone know what we do to make us a “green” company, and hopefully at the end, you’ll go vote for us every day until the end of the contest on September 30th (and tell all of your friends, too)!
The first things you see upon arriving at are the enormous water harvesting tanks, located at each end of the building. One of the largest systems in Arizona, the tanks hold a combined 36,000 gallons of water (and are currently full)! Water is collected from the roof, both rain and condensate from the evap coolers, and goes to cover the landscaping needs. These tanks are also a City of Tucson Water Harvesting Demonstration Site.

One of our water harvesting tanks

By year end, the tanks will be joined by a 128kW solar array that will cover approximately 90% of the building’s energy usage. Panels will be located on the roof, as well as being constructed as part of two shade structures over the parking lot. This is something we’ve been striving for since we moved into this building and we are super excited to see it come to fruition!
Along with the very visible “green” features that has in place, there are many other programs and processes in place. The employees are all dedicated to lowering their environmental footprint, so ideas come from everyone on what can be done to this end. Some of these efforts include:
  • Dual light controls in office spaces, along with plenty of natural light, so everyone thinks twice before flipping those switches.
  • Zoned A/C throughout to ensure that only the spaces being used are being cooled.
  • Extensive recycling – the recycling container is about 4x larger than the trash container, and it doesn’t stop with paper. We recycle the pallets that bring our shipments to us, the boxes that come in our back door, clothing, shoes, bike parts and more!
  • Commuter program which encourages employees to bike to work by giving them a credit for every mile they commute, along with contests and awards to make it fun and interactive.
  • Herman Miller furniture throughout, most of which is made from recycled material and can be recycled after its useful life.
  • Carpet tiles made from recycled materials, which also make it easy to replace small areas rather than having to entirely re-carpet if something were to damage it.
  • Greenbox program which gives our customers the option to receive a recycled box and packing material instead of new (about 90% of our customers choose this option).
  • Shoe collection program which donates collected shoes to a local non-profit for reuse within the Tucson community.
  • Bike parts are donated to Resource Revival to be re-made into art and awards.

Mel, one of our many employees who commute, parks her bike.

This list could keep going on and on! is able to make all of this a success through a combined effort from all of the staff, and everyone feels passionately about preserving natural resources. It really is a team vision!

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