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Solar powered business - the future face of Geelong's economy

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We visited Business Technology Solutions (BTS), one of the thriving Geelong business that’s leading the charge in energy efficiency and renewables.  We spoke to Stan Corner, CEO, to find out their business case for solar, and how sustainable, community-focused enterprises are shaping Geelong’s future.

Q. What does BTS do?

Stan: "We’re best known for supply and servicing of Canon copiers and printers.  We also help businesses with document management, archiving and automation of document processing so that they can reduce their print volumes and become a paperless office. 

Q. Why is sustainability such a strong feature of your business?

"As a business, we’re keen to do as much as commercially possible to reduce our impact on our environment.  It’s also helped us to improve the productivity of our business - part of the reason for us going solar was because it was financially viable.  If nothing else, if you just do the financials, it makes sense.

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Tell us about the sustainability journey at BTS!

"Our sustainability journey started over 8 years ago.  Printers and photocopiers are devices that are known to produce a lot of waste, including cartridge and toner parts and packaging.  So since 2007 we’ve had a really strong program to divert our business’s waste from going to landfill.

It was really easy to introduce new recycling practices to our staff – they’re right onto it.  Our staff told us ‘Hey stan we do this recycling thing at home.  So if you give us what we need to do it here, we’ll just get on with it”.  Now they are splitting our waste into ten different streams, and it’s being turned into new materials such as furniture in local parks and lightweight concrete bricks.

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We also contribute to local community programs, such as Give Where You Live, and Committee for Geelong.  We like to contribute to our community and environment because “what goes around comes around”.  I’m a big believer in the eco village - if Geelong looks after Geelong, we all prosper.  The era of Geelong relying on major international manufacturing has passed.  And now it’s time for the smaller enterprises to step up and contribute to our community.

When we bought our current building 3.5 years ago we were able to take it up a notch.  We had 3 main goals for the fitout of the building.  Firstly, we wanted a nice place to come to work.  We also wanted to use technology in the way that the building operates, because we’re a technology company.  And we also wanted to have least impact we could on our environment, in as much as we could that was commercially sensible.

Once we’d figured out the layout we wanted in the masterplan, we started looking at the other things we wanted the building to do.

We stripped the building to a bare shell and then put doubled insulation in the roof and all the walls.  This has helped with temperature and sound proofing.

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Lighting was another obvious area to focus on.  We installed the most efficient lighting we could get. All of our lighting has a sensor to switch it off when it’s not needed.  Some have movement sensors, such as in our meeting rooms.  Other lights, such as those in our north facing showroom, are connected to a lux sensor that switches the lights off when the sun is shining into the room. 

Also, our blinds are automated and programmed to close at certain times.  In winter they’re programmed to open at sunrise.  In summer they’re programmed to stay down to block out the sun.  We also have a kill switch on the building, which switches off lights and aircon when the last person leaves work at the end of the day.

What was the payback on installing solar at BTS?  

"At the end of 2013 we put the solar power system in and, at the time, we anticipated the payback period would be 6.5 years.  But our business has grown over that time, so the payback from our PV system has come down to 4.5 years.  We’ve been really happy with it, and about 6 months after we put ours in the business next door installed one too!

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Q. How did you choose your installer?

"We got two quotes from local installers.  We decided to go with City to Surf, because they were willing to come in and connect up a monitor so we could clearly understand our usage and use the data to optimise the system we installed.  We didn’t want an over-sized system, because we’d be wasting money on panels that we weren’t going to use.  We also really wanted to go with a Geelong based business.

Q. What’s next for sustainability at BTS?

"We mostly operate when the sun’s up so we use most of our solar power.  However we do have servers running overnight, and so we’ll definitely be looking at battery storage when it becomes available.

Tech talk….

System size: 8.16kw

Panels: Trina

Inverter: SMA

Payback: 4.5 years

 

 

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