Badger Healing Balm
Courtesy of W.S. Badger Company
At the outset of the solar decade, the W.S. Badger Company will add to its corporate real estate one of the largest solar arrays in New Hampshire.
Badger has been soothing, healing and protecting customers with balms and skin care products for a quarter-century. The family-owned, family-run, family-friendly company formulates, manufactures and ships a full line of over 100 all-natural and certified organic body care products worldwide, selling directly and through retailers.
Badger is a proud Certified B Corporation. The certification verifies and measures for-profit companies’ social and environmental performance. Now, the recognizable brand, with the colorful graphics depicting the most charismatic, fun-loving and friendly badgers, is committing to onsite renewable energy.
“Green energy is the future,” says Rebecca Hamilton, Co-CEO of W.S. Badger Company. In 2018, Hamilton and her sister, Emily Schwerin-Whyte were chosen to lead the company as Co-Collaborative Executive Officers and second-generation family owners.
The Badger headquarters in Gilsum, New Hampshire
Courtesy of W.S. Badger Company
To reduce its carbon footprint, Badger is intent on taking actionable steps. The company is no stranger to processes and procedures. In 2019, Badger was named the New Hampshire Business of the Year in manufacturing and technology by Business NH Magazine.
“Once we decided that we needed to transition towards solar,” Hamilton says, “it was just a question of how to manage the logistics in a way that would provide a net positive impact both environmentally and financially.”
Tucked in the woods on their 16-acre property, Badger is preparing to welcome a 1,445-panel, 524-kilowatt capacity solar energy system later this year. This system is designed to generate annually more than 600,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity. The figure is likened to offsetting approximately 636,000 pounds of carbon pollution annually, and the equivalent of planting 338 acres of forest, or taking 61 passenger vehicles off the road.
If cold-weather New England seems, at first, incompatible with solar energy, think light absorption — it’s the sun’s light, not heat, that’s used by cells in photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. The plan for Badger’s site is to capture sunlight with both roof- and ground-mounted solar arrays. The roof-mounted PV panels will fasten atop of the mass timber headquarters that Badger built 10 years ago. The 23,000-square-foot facility, designed by company co-founder “Badger” Bill Whyte, comprises both corporate offices and manufacturing.
As the latest small business shifting to solar, Badger’s approach is a beacon for other companies’ curiosity about what’s entailed in the run-up to adaptation of an onsite system. When operating a business while taking on a special project like solar, an owner wants to understand the costs, the payback, grid-tied solar versus off-grid solar, warranties, maintenance and whether the project involves disruption to operations. But there’s more than just the energy piece to the puzzle. For instance, will locating the solar infrastructure necessitate additional capital outlays, like relocating a parking lot, or something else substantial?
It’s helpful to keep a healthy appreciation for project management, and maintain perspective to prevail. Going solar demands a series of decisions. For most commercial owners, converting to solar onsite is not their core competency. Insight from Badger’s special project, though, underscores the value of identifying milestones in advance and hiring the right experts, in order to get projects moving from ideation to implementation.
Hamilton explains, “Through our partnership with ReVision Energy, we’re able to transition into solar through a power purchase agreement (PPA), which, in the short term, provides us with green energy at a lower rate than fossil fuels. The partnership also gives us the ability to purchase solar panels providing even greater savings in the long term.”
Founded in 2003, ReVision Energy has built more than 7,000 solar energy systems in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. Also a B Corp, they’re recognized as the region’s most experienced solar company. Badger entered the PPA with ReVision’s mission-aligned investor partner, ReVision Solar Impact Partners, who’ll own and operate the solar array for a minimum of five years to monetize available tax incentives.
“W.S. Badger is at the forefront of a growing trend in corporate real estate to cut operating costs and increase property values with solar,” says Dan Weeks, director of market development for ReVision Energy. “Thanks to a 70% drop in the price of solar technology since 2010, solar now delivers the lowest levelized cost of energy for nearly every class of commercial facility, even in northern states like New Hampshire.”
An early milestone is site capability. ReVision’s pre-contract engineering design process includes a technical assessment of the business facility, such as the roof, ground, and electrical infrastructure. They perform a load analysis of the facility’s historical power consumption. Based on the client’s offset and savings goals, and the roof and ground conditions – i.e., productive area, ground type, roof type, pitch, azimuth, shading, ventilation, among other factors – ReVision’s engineering team produces detailed designs and kilowatt-hours production estimates for client review.
Between the contract signing in December 2019, and installation in mid-2020, the major project markers include: utility interconnection approval along with the distribution system impact study; a structural review of the facility by a professional engineer; ground site survey and preparation; major equipment procurement, like solar panels, inverters, and racking; local and state permitting approval; and, for-construction computer-aided design engineering.
Thinking ahead to this summer, Weeks takes stock of what it will mean to complete the installation, and energize Badger’s system.
“To know that those balms and the many other healing products Badger creates will now be made with solar power is good news all around. When B Corporations band together to tackle society’s most pressing challenges like the climate crisis, they show that business really can be a force for good.”