Walking the Walk in Fairbanks, Alaska

Traveling to the northern oil fields of Alaska by helicopter burns over 30 gallons of fuel an hour. As environmental consultants who travel frequently, this number troubled executives at ABR Environmental Research and Services who decided to do something about it.

Fairbanks, Alaska – November 5, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced their “Commissioner’s Awards” for outstanding achievement in pollution prevention. The award encourages Alaska businesses and organizations to step forward with creative, pollution prevention solutions. Among the recipients was ABR Environmental Research and Services, recognized for their environmental commitments, including contributing US$6500 toward the installation of a rooftop solar system for a local middle school. ABR calculated the carbon emissions from their frequent travel and decided to offset some of their business’ environmental impacts by contributing money toward a PV system at the Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. Not only would this mitigate some the company’s CO2 production, but it would also enrich the school’s curriculum. “We’re really fortunate top have ABR in Fairbanks,” said Greg Egan, of Alaska Renewable Energy, who installed the 600 W grid-tied system. “They’re just one those companies that actually walks the walk.” Environmental responsibility for ABR didn’t begin and end with the rooftop system, though. Despite no specific financial incentives for businesses in Alaska to decrease their CO2 emissions, ABR has taken a number of steps in addition to the money they donated for the solar system. They give employees US$3 dollars a day for using non-fuel alternative transportation to get to work, and US$1.50 if they carpool. The company uses environmental friendly cleaners, recycled office supplies and hybrid cars as company vehicles. ABR’s efforts even extend to paying their employees four hours of pay for every eight hours of community service. ABR Business manager Tom DeLong said the real drivers for the company’s socially and environmentally responsible stance come from the owners, Bob Ritchie and his wife Bobby who saw that they could save money while being environmentally responsible. “Although we have a long way to go, our conservation efforts help us sustain our core ideology: measuring success with a triple economic, social, and environmental-bottom line,” said Bob Ritchie. The PV for the rooftop system is from Shell Solar, the inverter is a GC 1000 by Advanced Energy, while the data loggers are by Campbell Scientific. The system is in the final stages of construction and will soon be integrated with an energy conservation curriculum for the seventh and eighth grades including a Web site interface. Four other Commisioner’s Awards were given: the City of Palmer, Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, Schlumberger Technology Corporation, WesternGeco and ABR Inc. were recognized.
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