Does your business have a mission to help save the planet?
In addition to potential financial advantages, commercial solar energy may enable your organization to enjoy several environmental benefits — making it Earth Day, every day.
No matter your size or sector, investing in solar panels can potentially help your organization reduce its carbon footprint, mitigate climate change and meet important sustainability goals.
Here are six environmental benefits commercial solar energy can provide.
1. Reduce Carbon Footprint
Power plants typically generate electricity for businesses by burning coal, oil or gas to produce turbine-generating steam. This process releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which in turn negatively impacts the environment.
The more energy your business uses, the more CO2 gets produced and released, and the higher your carbon footprint becomes.
In contrast, the photovoltaic (PV) cells that make up solar panels generate electricity from a clean and renewable power source — sunlight. This does not produce any emissions or pollution during operation, allowing businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize reliance on fossil fuels.
2. Improve Air Quality
No matter where in the U.S. your business operates, air pollution and its effect on climate change are being felt. Nearly 40 percent of Americans live in counties with F grades for ozone smog, according to the American Lung Association* — with Southern California leading the list for most ozone-polluted cities.
Since greenhouse gases are one of the largest air pollutants, businesses that install solar panels — and thus decrease their reliance on fossil fuels — can significantly shrink their contribution to the problem.
If 10,000 businesses switched to 50 kilowatt (kW) commercial solar panels, they would produce enough clean power — approximately 500 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity — to rival the output of a traditional, medium-sized, natural gas-fired power plant.*
3. Decrease Power Grid Reliance
According to the EPA, the electricity sector is responsible for about 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions*. By investing in solar energy, your business can likely reduce the amount of electricity it needs to purchase from the grid.
Regardless of your business’ size, this can potentially help lower the demand for energy generated from fossil fuels, thereby decreasing the dissemination of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
4. Conserve Water Resources
Generating electricity from fossil fuels demands a significant amount of water, primarily for cooling power plants*. While the fuel mix has shifted to less water-intensive energy sources, the electric power sector still consumed 47.5 trillion gallons of water in 2020 alone*, a sizable portion of which is used to power business operations.
Solar energy, on the other hand, does not require any water to generate electricity, making it a much more sustainable option for businesses, particularly those based in water-stressed regions like the American West.
With solar panels accounting for 1.5% of the nation’s electrical supply, it represents a saving of 99 billion gallons of water annually — equivalent to about four days of California’s total water usage, according to researchers at Duke University*.
Imagine how much more water could be conserved if thousands of additional commercial facilities adopted solar energy over the next decade.
5. Minimize Land Use
Businesses with solar panels can minimize land use in a variety of ways. One of the most effective is rooftop solar panels, which use the existing space of your building and don’t require additional land to install. This is particularly advantageous if your company is in an urban area with limited space.
If rooftop solar isn’t feasible, other areas of the built environment — like parking lots and structures — can also be utilized, while also providing shade for the vehicles at your property. Your business may also own unused or unproductive land that could also present an apt opportunity for commercial solar.
6. Promote Sustainable Energy
By promoting sustainable energy via commercial solar, you may encourage other local businesses to follow suit, which could snowball into further adoption, smaller carbon footprints and fewer greenhouse gas emissions from traditional energy sources.
By becoming an early adopter of solar, your business can potentially improve its reputation as an environmentally responsible steward— something consumers, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly concerned about, and which may lead to enhanced brand value, increased loyalty and new customers.
Start Your Commercial Solar Journey
The environmental benefits of commercial solar energy are undeniable, but there is a solid business case for investing in this technology, too. Regardless of your organization’s size or scope, we can help power energy independence.