For San Francisco, Calif.-based Veritable Vegetable, the nation’s oldest organic produce distributor, sustainability is a deeply ingrained value. Since its founding in 1974, Veritable Vegetable has shown a strong commitment to promoting sustainable agriculture and ethical business practices, considering the environmental, social and economic impacts of every decision it makes.

As a result, Veritable Vegetable went solar to further its sustainability efforts and reduce its environmental impact. Since the company uses a good deal of energy to keep their organic produce cold, investing in solar to offset its energy consumption was an obvious next step.

Veritable Vegetable partnered with Borrego Solar Systems, Oakland, Calif., in 2009 to install 560 solar panels on its 25,000-square-foot warehouse facility in San Francisco. The 106 kW DC solar system was not only an environmentally responsible move, but it has also helped Veritable Vegetable save approximately $35,035 annually on their operating costs. In addition to those initial cost savings, as the cost of electricity supplied from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) increases, so will the savings. At the current PG&E electricity rates, it's projected the solar power installation will pay for itself in approximately seven years, and will provide free electricity for approximately 25 years thereafter.

Veritable Vegetable also implemented several other sustainability initiatives, a few of which include: the diverting of 99% of the company’s waste from landfills by composting and recycling and re-using nearly all materials coming into the warehouse. The company utilizes advanced temperature control technologies and thick strip doors to reduce energy usage while still keeping food fresh. Even the warehouses’ insulation, made from shredded cotton jeans, was designed with sustainability in mind.

Veritable Vegetable has proved that an investment in sustainable design and construction can be mutually beneficial for the environment and a company’s bottom line.

Steve Birndorf, senior project developer
Borrego Solar Systems, Oakland, Calif.