Going Green is Good for Business
During the recession, small businesses across
America have become more reluctant to invest
in green technologies, even though companies
like Larry’s Beans have demonstrated that green
is good for business. According to a February
survey conducted by Wells Fargo/Gallup, one
in three small businesses say the economy has
affected their plans to become greener. Com-
pared with two years ago, fewer businesses
believe their customers are willing to pay for
environmentally friendly goods and services.
Even so, many small businesses continue taking
steps toward sustainability. Of those surveyed,
88 percent report participating in recycling pro-
grams, and 77 percent say they’re switching to
more environmentally friendly products.
At Larry’s Beans, going green was a priority
from the beginning. When starting his business
in 1994, Larson had a wealth of ideas but little
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BEANS
Roasting 450,000 pounds of coffee to
perfection each year is not a simple
task. But by carefully monitoring
roasting times and temperatures and
by precisely regulating coffee blends,
Larry’s Beans ensures the quality of its
products. A certified cupper samples
coffees each morning in the facility’s
dedicated tasting room. Every bag of
coffee carries a lot number identifying the fair-trade farm overseas where
the beans were grown. Larry’s Beans’
products are fair trade, shade grown,
organic and kosher.
Energy Management (southern-energy.com).
• Rainwater collection: Five rainwater
collection cisterns provided by Rain Water
Solutions (rainwatersolutions.com) hold up to
2,400 gallons (9,085 liters) for use in the company’s dual-flush toilets. (The city of Raleigh
recently approved the use of rainwater for toilets; other cities may have restrictions.)
• Skylights: Four hundred square feet (37
square meters) of south-facing skylights made
of lightweight polycarbonate sheets provide 100
percent of the coffee-production facility’s daytime lighting needs, along with some solar heating during the winter months. Manufactured
by Polygal Plastics Industries (polygal.com),
the sheets are nontoxic and recyclable. Overheating in the summer is avoided by a 4-foot
(1.2-meter) overhang that shades the skylights
from direct sunlight. The installation cost was
Above, a biodiesel fuel pump is provided as a
community service. Left, the company’s delivery
bus runs on vegetable oil collected from local restaurants and stored on site.
TIM MAR TIN
cash. Bobal joined the firm later. As their personal interests in environmentalism and sustainability grew, the two entrepreneurs set out to show
that a business model combining superior coffee
with social awareness and energy-conservation
could be profitable as well as good for the planet.
Over time, Larson and Bobal say they’ve cut their
energy costs by at least half. Isaac Panzarella of
Consider Design, Raleigh, N.C., conducted the
• Warehouse wall insulation: The warehouse
walls and ceiling are insulated with Sealection
500, a nontoxic spray foam by Demilec (demilec
usa.com). The product virtually eliminates air
infiltration and is made without formaldehyde
However, what is unusual is their conviction and chlorinated fluorocarbon agents, which are
that energy conservation and sustainability are harmful to the environment. The insulation was
not only good for our country, but also good for applied by Allied Spray Foam (sprayfoams.info)
business. The company’s energy and sustainabil- for about $13,000 per building.
ity strategy includes — • Roofing material: In place of more com-
There is no rocket science at Larry’s Beans.
Most of their energy-conservation ideas have
been employed elsewhere many times over.
• Solar water heating: Three evacuated- mon galvanized roofing, Larry’s Beans installed
tube solar hot water collectors by Apricus Solar Galvalume panels (galvalume.com) made of 55
(apricus.com) provide radiant floor heating for percent aluminum-zinc alloy-coated sheet steel.
450 square feet (42 square meters) of office Thethermalreflectivityoftheroof’ssilvery-white
space. Radiant tubes, encased 16 inches (40 cen- surface helps reduce cooling costs in the summer
timeters) apart in concrete floors, draw hot water and heating costs in the winter. The manufactur-from a 120-gallon (454-liter) heat-exchanger er claims cooling costs are halved compared with
tank. The collectors were installed by Southern galvanized roofing and about one-third less than
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