CHRYSTAL HOLT and BRIAN HOLT
As told by Chrystal and Brian.
1A used their Big Idea Grant to reduce waste in the cafe, produce their own energy with solar panels, and study air-quality impacts of day-to-day coffee business operations.
SUSTAINABILITY IS THE MISSION
We started getting into coffee when we lived in Finland — a country that is in the top 3, annually, for coffee consumed per person. Being part of the coffee culture there helped us create a sense of community and belonging here in our new home. As we decided to become coffee roasters and open up a coffee shop, we wanted to build it from the ground up with sustainability in mind. Every decision we made as we formed the business was viewed through the lens of environmental, economic and social sustainability.
WE’RE INTO SOLAR
Our grant was about implementing projects focused on reducing waste, migrating to renewable energy and tracking environmental conditions (i.e., greenhouse gases) in our roastery and café. We decided on the idea of solar trackers to produce on-site power to make our roasting and coffee shop operations carbon neutral. Customers park near our solar trackers, which sparks conversation about how solar instead of fossil fuels is powering our business.
“We use tech to measure everything! It shows us and our customers the bigger picture. Our small shop has now offset 7.5 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide), the equivalent of driving 30,000 km. And in the short time that we’ve had the solar trackers, we’ve produced nearly 15 megawatts of power in 10 months.”
BUT WE GO BEYOND THE SUN
We purchased over 6,000 glass jars (they’re returnable and we use them for iced drinks), and our air-quality sensor, which has an easy-to-use phone app, helps us monitor our air quality in real time when brewing, grinding, and roasting coffee. The sensor has helped us understand how these processes impact air-quality and allows us to explore the things we can do in real time to improve them. We are currently working on filing for B-Corp status and hope to have the application completed by the end of September. In our jar reuse program, we have seen a 40% return rate of almost 2,200 jars, offsetting plastic cup waste for iced coffee drinks.
COFFEE AND SUSTAINABILITY ARE TOTALLY MARRIED
Coffee’s supply chain includes many people from all over the world. It’s our job and passion to make sure that all aspects of the supply chain stay healthy and certain parts don't benefit more than others or cause more of an impact on the environment due to laziness, neglect or putting profits first.
Chrystal and Brian’s 5 ways to get started successfully with solar:
APPLY FOR ALL THE GRANTS!
Check what state and federal tax credits and grants are available. There are way more than you might think!
REALLY GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL ZONES AND PERMITS.
Check with your town/city zoning official to see what your local and state zoning/permitting requirements might be.
SELF-REFLECTION IS KEY.
Understand your current power usage over the course of a year to determine the size of your system.
MAKE YOUR SOLAR AS VISIBLE AS POSSIBLE.
Some places allow you to net meter on-site or off-site. Explore both options to see which has the best solar visibility for you.
STUDY ALL THE OPTIONS!
Evaluate the best type of solar: roof mounted, ground mounted or trackers (what we have).
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