The Four Seasons Family of Cos., Ephrata, Pa., activated a 1.3 MW solar array installation on its main refrigerated distribution center at Wabash Road, making it what is said to be the largest collection of solar panels on a refrigerated facility in Lancaster County, Pa.,

This project marks another milestone in Four Seasons’ commitment to reducing energy and overall resources use as part of its sustainability strategy.

The 3,900 solar panels will provide half the energy used by its entire offices and refrigerated warehouse on a sunny day, providing approximately 1/6 of the building’s total demand for electricity in a year and producing power equivalent to 182 homes’ electricity use for one year. Additionally, the building is cooled with recycled water, keeping efficiency high.

“For years, we’ve wanted to do rooftop solar. Our big black empty warehouse roof felt like a lost opportunity. But, we chose to first focus on reducing power before producing power,” says Jason Hollinger, president. “So, after many years of diligent work in energy efficiency projects and falling solar panel prices, we felt the time was right. Knowing that our previously big empty roof is now harvesting clean energy is such a satisfying feeling.”

“We have discovered far more of these improvement opportunities exist than we can effectively pursue. Many times, the limits we face are ones of creativity and time, not financial constraints. We have set aside some ideas – only to return to them later – such as this solar project,” says Nelson Longenecker, vice president of business innovation. “The combination of multiple projects has reduced our electricity use by over 20%, water use by over 30% and natural gas usage by over 50%. With a focused recycling program, our solid waste diversion rate (by weight) has risen to over 92%.”

“You could call it ‘being green to save green,’” adds Randy Groff, director of facilities and energy. “By using the same sunshine that grows the produce we sell, the panels continue to eliminate carbon from our supply chain.”

Four Seasons partnered with Namaste Solar, a Denver, Colo.-based solar company, to install the solar panels.

“Ultimately, the actions we take and the way that we conduct business must benefit our children and our grandchildren,” adds Longenecker.