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Success and Sustainability

(March 2012) posted on Wed Mar 14, 2012

Five print providers who have plotted out a green course.

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By Paula Yoho

“On our website we have a live solar monitor that shows how many cars we’ve taken off the road, how many houses would this have powered in the same amount of time – it’s just kind of a fun thing – and it has real-time stats,” explains BarkerBlue’s general manager John Roach. “In California, when you get a solar system, there needs to be a third-party monitoring service between Pacific Gas and Electric and your building to verify that what you’re producing is actually legit. We get an incentive rebate check from PG&E every month on the power that we generate based on a fixed kilowatt-hour rate.”

The solar panels have been in place for about four years and, while Roach admits it was a huge up-front investment, installing its own power grid was par for the course for BarkerBlue – and part of the natural evolution of the company’s mission.

“In addition to display graphics, we’re also in the construction-blueprints and construction-management business,” says Roach. “As we found more and more of our customers working on buildings that were getting LEED certified and contractors that were looking for greener solutions, it just seemed like the thing we should do. Since we owned the building, we were able to put the panels up pretty easily.”

The investment in solar may have been inspired by the architects, engineers, and construction clients, but it has proven over time to be a competitive advantage on the digital graphics side of the business.

“When they’re buying large-format color graphics, some of our larger clients come to us with core company green initiatives that trickle all the way down to the purchase of their substrates and their graphics,” says sales consultant Mike Turnbull. “Where that is in their priority list is sort of the struggle sometimes in terms of how heavily we market ourselves as a ‘green’ print provider. Product and service and quality still probably beat out ‘green’ in terms of what our customers are demanding – but if you can offer the ‘green’ option as your third selling point, it can sometimes be the differentiator. More and more companies are seeking us out for that reason alone.”

The solar-powered facility is just one way the company has embraced ‘green.’