terra-cotta roofing. Galvalume panels were also
used for the warehouse siding. Total installation cost for the two warehouse buildings was
Other energy-efficiency technologies
include low-energy fluorescent lighting
(mainly T5 bulbs) with reflective fixtures and
ceiling-mounted radiant heaters designed to
warm only the workspace immediately below.
As workers move from one workspace to
another, the radiant heaters can be switched
on and off.
To cut down on air-conditioning costs,
two insulated garage doors (about $40,000)
serve as movable walls in the office area, allowing fresh air to circulate when the doors are
opened on cool summer mornings. One door
measures 13 feet ( 4 meters) wide, and the
other is 6 feet (1.8 meters) wide. On hot days,
Larson and Bobal move to alternate work stations in a cooler part of the building, thereby
avoiding the need to install air conditioning in
the executive suite. Casual attire (shorts and
t-shirts) also helps workers stay cool and com-
A cupper samples coffee blends early each morning in the tasting room.
fortable when the weather heats up.
Solar hot water panels provide radiant floor
heating for 450 square feet of office space.
Saving Money With Renovations
When renovating their two 4,000-square-
foot (370-square-meter) warehouses, both
built in 1939, the company used reclaimed
materials, such as old roofing and wood flooring. They even installed an antique barn door
for the entrance to the executive offices. Rather
than trying to impress visitors with luxurious
furniture and pricey artwork, Larson and Bobal
believe they make a stronger statement with
their desks from the local Habitat for Humanity resale shop and metal roofing from a dilapidated storage shed down the street. This kind
of frugal recycling makes sense in today’s sour
economy, while adding warmth and character
to the work environment.
TIM MAR TIN THE CRUMES
Total annual energy savings for the production warehouse (left) is about $17,200. Renovation of the second
warehouse is expected to save $20,700 annually.
The solar water-heating and rainwater systems were purchased new, but the company was
careful to buy only what it really needed. For
example, the radiant floor heating was installed
just in the office space and not in the warehouse
and production rooms, where workers spend
less time. On the other hand, the skylights span
the entire production area in one of the warehouses because this was the most cost-effective
way to illuminate the whole building.
Finding contractors to help with the warehouse renovations was not simple — too many
builders wanted to install expensive technologies, and too few knew where to find reclaimed
materials and how to use them effectively. Larson and Bobal’s advice: Don’t give up.
“Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do
something,” says Larson. “If a contractor says it
is going to cost a million dollars, you’re talking
with the wrong guy. Just get started, and you’ll
find that the more you do, the more you will
want to do.”
What does the future hold for Larry’s
Beans? Steady growth in sales means the company can continue promoting social causes like
fair trade while experimenting with sustainable
approaches to business. Already in the works
are wind-powered roof vents, skylights for the
second warehouse, a small vermiculture plot
(worm castings will be sold to local farmers
and weekend gardeners), an energy-recovery
system for the bean roaster and monthly sustainability tours for visitors. Asked about the
future, Larson says, “Twenty years from now,
if we have played a small part in encouraging
people to really care about sustainability and
social issues, we will have achieved success!” ST