SC Johnson receives Gold Medal in Corporate Sustainability Leadership

SC Johnson receives Gold Medal in Corporate Sustainability Leadership

by Tyler Huebner, Executive Director

On May 14th, Racine, WI-based SC Johnson was honored by the World
Environment Center as the recipient of the 2015 Gold Medal for International
Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development.

This is a major award amongst large multi-national
companies, and only one company is recognized each year.  SC Johnson became the second company to win
the award twice, after first receiving the award in 1994. Recipients from
recent years include Volkswagon Group, Unilever, IBM, and Wal-Mart Stores.
SC Johnson’s global renewable energy initiatives poster

With financial support from SC Johnson, I attended the event
in Washington, DC to help honor the company. 
RENEW’s relationship with SC Johnson started about four years ago, when our
Program and Policy Director Michael Vickerman advised the company as it was
pursuing the installation of two wind turbines to help power Waxdale, one of
its major factories in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin, near Racine.  

CEO Fisk Johnson proudly supporting clean energy

Fisk Johnson, the 5th generation CEO of the family-owned
company, was on hand to receive the award. 
“Reaching for that ideal of trust and goodwill is what motivates us at
SC Johnson, and it’s where we find our best answers and greatest
successes.  This recognition today, which
I accept with great pride on behalf of all of the people in our company,
inspires us on even more.”

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan presented the award to Fisk
Johnson, and he highlighted their investment in renewable energy resources
including landfill gas and wind turbines. Ryan said, “If you drive by Waxdale,
you see a capped landfill with the methane running into the generators, along
with the two windmills, making sure that they are purely 100% sustainable for
their factory producing these wonderful products.  That just shows you how committed this family
is, and this company is, to this mission. 
It’s really impressive.”
To view (most of) Paul Ryan’s remarks, check out this video: 

According to SC
Johnson, Waxdale produces an average of 100 percent of its electrical energy
onsite each year.  Glade®,
Windex®, Pledge®, Scrubbing Bubbles®, Shout®, Raid®
and OFF!®
are all among the trusted household products made at Waxdale.

Alliance for Solar Choice Criticizes Madison Gas & Electric, Wisconsin Public Service, and We Energies Rate Proposals

Based on a July 18, 2014 article by Chuck Quirmbach on Wisconsin Public Radio

The Alliance for Solar Choice, a solar industry trade group, has scorned three Wisconsin utility’s attempts to harm solar companies through their respective proposed rate restructuring. All three rate proposals include a planned increase in customer’s fixed charges, while offering a small decrease in the price of energy use per kWh.

The Alliance for Solar Choice represents many members of the rooftop solar industry and believes that We Energies’ (along with WPS and MGE) plan would stop customers from having installers lease them solar panels. Alliance president Bryan Miller believes that utilities are adopting the philosophy of “if you can’t stop it, monopolize it” by assuring that rooftop solar is more economical through the utility. We Energies has also unveiled a solar panel leasing ban, further adding to the calamity felt by solar contractors. The utility waited to propose this ban after the deadline for groups to formally intervene in the rate case before the Public Service Commission, the entity that would review the proposal. According to Miller, “the way they did this shows you really what the character of this company is about.”

We Energies spokesperson Cathy Schultze said her company followed standard procedures for rate cases, stating that “the same amount of time that usually transpires went down in this case.” Further, Schultze stated that the increase in fixed charges is fairer to customers who can’t afford or don’t want solar panels, a surprising statement considering that the 1,450 MW of residential solar installations across the country since 2000 have been overwhelmingly occurring in middle-class neighborhoods that have medium incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000 (read the Center of American Progress report here).

Read the entire article here

How hospitals can help fight climate change

Midwest Energy News interviews Dr. Jeff Thompson of Gundersen Health System. Dr. Thompson, who was a guest speaker at RENEW’s 2013 Policy Summit calls attention to the need to improve environmental health and sustainability in the healthcare sector.


 By Bob Herman

Midwest Energy News: The White House event honored several diverse voices within healthcare sustainability. What were you able to learn from it?

Thompson: I was amazed by some of the stories that people had accomplished. Kizzy Charles-Guzman,
the young woman who is responsible for sustainability efforts in New
York City, came up to me and said, “It’s so amazing what you’ve done and
how close you are to your goals.” And I said, “Kizzy, I’m responsible
for a number of rural counties that have a population equal to one-tenth
of one of your boroughs!”

Even though we have accomplished a lot, I still learn from individuals like her. And I also enjoy working with Gary
and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative because of his ability to
encapsulate what the big picture is and where [healthcare] needs to go.
It is a great, free program for all hospitals that can give any
organization a starting point.

Gundersen’s plan to be energy independent in 2014 is one of
the most unique among U.S. hospitals and health systems. Can you give
some examples of how Gundersen is trying to reach this goal, and is it
saving your organization money along the way?

The first example I always use — because everyone worries it’s going
to take a huge amount of money — is conservation. Our first investment
was in conservation. I recommend all CEOs to go for this. In the first
year and a half, we spent $2 million. That’s a lot of money, but every
year thereafter, we’ve saved $1.2 million in energy expenditures related
to that activity. Right now, I don’t know anything in the organization
that can get that rate of return.

When you say “conservation,” what did you and Gundersen focus on specifically?

We started with an energy audit. We looked around all the places
where we use energy — lights, motors, pumps, all the non-sexy things
people don’t think about when it comes to energy issues. For example,
there was a five-year-old, six-story outpatient building. It is very
busy during the days, but nobody is there at nights, weekends and
holidays. Its exhaust fans, though, were set to run 24/7/365. So we just
switched that to run only when people were in the building. We saved
$19,000 right there.


Dropping Prices and Low Maintenance Costs Encourage Local Solar Installations

Responding to decreasing solar energy systems costs, Stone House Development Inc. invests in a 117 solar panel setup above their new mixed use apartment building in Shorewood Hills. Phil Levin’s report for NBC 15 notes that projects like this could be just the beginning. Read the article below and watch the video report to learn more.

By Phil Levin

Local developers are reconsidering solar panel installations as prices drop and energy efficiencies rise.

The projects were previously prohibitively expensive as
pricey installations could take years to generate enough energy to
offset their cost. Commercial arrays can now pay for themselves in as
few as five years.

“If you are going to be owning the building for ten years
or more, you’re going to recoup those costs and the savings will keep
going another 15 plus years after that,” said Full Spectrum Solar
Founder Burke O’Neal.

His group installs the arrays on residential and commercial
buildings. They recently set up 117 panels above a new mixed-use
apartment building in Shorewood Hills called Arbor Crossing.

The panels will produce energy when the sun is out to power common area
utilities like lighting in hallways and the garage. In the middle of the
day the solar array might generate more energy than those circuits
need, causing the Madison Gas and Electric meter to spin backwards.


GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association Identify Solar Energy as a Significant Component of all New Electric Capacity Installed in the U.S.

The GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association 2013 quarterly report on U.S. solar markets finds that solar energy installations account for 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S. last quarter, the largest contribution for any given year in the industry. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA attributes this growth to long-term pro renewable energy policies. Read the press release below and the fact sheet released with the report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. AND BOSTON, MA — GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) today release U.S. Solar Market Insight: 1st Quarter 2013, the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S., with strategic state-specific data for 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

 This quarter’s report finds that the U.S. installed 723 megawatts (MW) in Q1 2013, which accounted for over 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S. last quarter. Overall, these installations represent the best first quarter of any given year for the industry. In addition, the residential and utility market segments registered first-quarter highs with 164 MW and 318 MW respectively.

As explored in greater detail in the report, the residential market remains a highlight for U.S. solar with 53 percent year-over-year growth. Unlike the non-residential and utility markets, residential solar has not exhibited seasonality and market volatility on a national basis; quarterly growth in the U.S. residential market has ranged from 4 percent to 21 percent in 12 of the past 13 quarters.