The Greenest Contractor award celebrates the greenest contractors making their companies and communities as environmentally friendly as possible.
-Mark Hagerty, president of Michigan Solar Solutions
Addressing climate change extends beyond the mission of curbing carbon output and slowing global temperature increases. Changes to the environment are often man-made, and the introduction of invasive species to new settings can be devastating for ecosystems. That’s why Riverdale, Michigan-based installer Michigan Solar Solutions has taken responsibility for restoring the land where it sited its headquarters.
In 2016, Michigan Solar Solutions (MSS) purchased a former golf driving-range that had been abandoned for 10 years. The 35-acre property had in that time become a breeding ground for autumn-olive trees, a plant species invasive to Michigan. MSS has removed the autumn-olives from 30 acres and replaced them with native grasses and flowers with the goal of making the land a wildlife refuge.
Additionally, MSS installed 20 bat and birdhouses, some built specifically for owls, bluebirds and ducks. The company is seeking a local beekeeper to bring some hives to the site as well.
Besides its naturalist efforts, MSS’s headquarters is net-zero and produces more power with solar than it consumes. Instead of building a new office when purchasing the property, MSS rehabilitated an existing building. All lights were replaced with LEDs, a solar-powered attic fan was added, solar tube skylights were put in the roof to add more natural light and a 28-panel PV array was installed on the roof.
MSS took environmentalism one step further by converting the building to air-to-air heat exchangers to get off propane. To compensate for that additional electrical load, MSS found an opportunity to test the latest solar panel technology at the time and installed two Panasonic, two LG and two Jinko half-cell panels.
As operations expanded, MSS built an off-grid pole building that uses an OutBack Power Technologies energy storage system. It operates as the company’s permitting, service and sales processing department and houses its mid-Michigan warehouse and crews.
The company’s latest addition to the property is an electric vehicle charger where community members are encouraged to stop, charge their vehicles and walk the land. There is a mile-long path that runs through the fields and forests that MSS tends.