Exclusive: Honey Farm’s Solar Motivation

Chain’s use of technology earns it CSP’s Environmental Stewardship Award

Published in CSP Daily News

The sun rises on Honey Farm's solar farm in Barre, Mass.

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Honey Farms Convenience Stores’ environmental stewardship efforts go back nearly 30 years, according to executive vice president David Murdock.

“Way back in the 1980s, we were the first ones in our area to separate cardboard from the waste stream,” he says. “We earned an environmental award for that way back then.”

Since then, the Worcester, Mass.-based convenience store chain has focused on ways to cut energy costs while benefiting the environment.

“We’ve taken on a lot of technologies to try to save energy, whether it be kilowatt hours or to help run our machines, all the different compressors,” Murdock says. “We most recently have taken on the huge initiative of replacing all our electrical systems, the lighting inside and outside: canopy lights and area lights. LED lights are common now in all our coolers, and they save quite a bit of kilowatt hours. We’re looking to save close to 1 million kilowatt hours this year compared to the last couple of years.”

For the consumer, the results are most clearly seen at night when the canopy lights shine brighter than in the past.

“If you look at the store, it’s brighter; it’s more vibrant because of the LED lighting,” Murdock says. “Customers really like it. It’s a much safer shopping experience.”

But in adding green elements to its business, the most significant initiative took place far from any of the stores. Last year, the retailer partnered with Quabbin Solar to build and 18-acre solar farm, and the initiative has grown since.

“It started out with one farm up in Barre, Mass.,” Murdock says. “It was projected to do 1.4 megawatts; it actually does over 2 megawatts now. We added another farm, and right now, we’re basically taking 4 megawatts off the grid and saving money at the same time.”

Murdock says he has no illusion of being the greenest business in the country, but he and his team want to do their part to help where they can.

“Most of our stores are in residential neighborhoods, and we’ve always tried to be good neighbors,” he says. “I think the environmental stuff is good for the neighborhood by being a responsible business. We try to take an approach where we know we’re not going to be [completely] green, but we want to be greener. So we continually strive to add more green elements as they become available and affordable.”

Honey Farm’s efforts earned it one of three CSP 2013 Environmental Stewardship Awards. The awards were handed out during CSP’s Outlook Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in November.

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