USAT’s Environmental Commitment | Green Initiatives
Our company is composed of employees that are very concerned about preserving the earth for our children’s children. That’s why we’ve decided to make specific environmental commitments. Because of our stewardship responsibilities as good world citizens, we have committed to finding innovative and effective ways to conserve, recycle, and mitigate our impact on the planet.
At USAT we have in place, or are pursuing corporate programs that:
- Conserve water, paper, and fossil fuels. Use distributed generation of energy to offset transmission losses.
- Recycle and re-purpose metal mounts, computers and communications technologies. Harvest raw materials from scrapped equipment to minimize landfill usage.
- Mitigate our usage of limited fuels by encouraging alternate forms of transportation, improving lumens per watt with lighting, reducing electric usage, sourcing electricity from renewables and heating or cooling office spaces more efficiently.
As of March 2017, USAT’s Chapel Hill headquarters is now a “net zero energy” facility. Combining efforts to reduce consumption with generating solar electricity in SITU, we net consume no externally produced energy. No natural gas, and no net electricity from the electric grid!
Environmental Commitment 1
- In 2017, we expanded into an additional warehouse space in which we promptly replaced hundreds of T12 florescent tubes, fixtures and aging ballasts, with LED troffer light fixtures from Cree. Each new troffer uses 44 watts down from 160 watts—a 72.5% reduction in energy consumed—and a 10 fold increase in lifespan further reducing waste into landfills!
- In 2017, we installed 26 independently addressable, IoT enabled lights around the exterior of our facility. These lights turn on based on the sunrise and sunset for any given day. They also leverage IFTTT (If This Then That) so that they also turn on when a nearby weather monitor reports precipitation at our facility.
- In 2016, we installed a 60-kilowatt solar array at our HQ. The ~200 panel system occupies both our roof, and a canopy we built to support the panels so we could maximize solar production at the facility. Fronius Symo smart invertors let us use the Internet of Things to constantly monitor production. By using stylish Lumos all tempered glass solar panels, we have built not only an effective system, but an architecturally appealing one as well. The largest parts of the system, the custom aluminum support structure by DAC Awning and the Lumos photovoltaic panels, are manufactured in the USA.
- In 2016, we replaced hundreds of fluorescent fixtures with dimmable Cree LED light fixtures. This not only cuts energy consumption by 40-70%, we also deployed 90+ CRI (Color Rendition Index) technology to improve the light quality throughout out facility. All exit lights and 24-hour security lights also were replaced with efficient LEDs.
- In 2015, we replaced commodes in our headquarters with pressurized low flow systems to reduce the water demand placed on our municipal water system.
- In 2015, we upgraded the HVAC to use IoT connected systems which monitor weather and run the HVAC systems with greater efficiency.
- In 2013, we completed the installation of a 50 kilowatt roof mounted photovoltaic solar system on one of our facilities. The capital investment for the 176 panel array will offset a significant portion of our energy consumption at the facility for the next 25 years as well as buffer us from energy price fluctuations. On the day the solar system went live, the photovoltaic arrays were monitored by using a USAT M2M wireless router running on USAT’s Express M2M network. In May of 2014, the building produced about 9 megawatts of electricity.
- In 2013, we replaced many bay doors through our warehouse will full view, floor to ceiling glass doors. This floods the area with natural light, reducing the need for supplemental electric lighting.
- In 2013, USAT began migrating to solid ink printers for marketing department projects. The minimal packaging ink blocks greatly reduce the excess container packaging needed with toner based laser printers. The impact is magnified with volume color printing, which typically use 4 or more toner cartridges simultaneously.
- In 2011, we completed a conversion of over 135 florescent ballasts used with office lights. By switching to new, high efficiency electronic ballasts and matched bulbs we have decreased electric consumption by 30-35%.
- In 2011, we replaced all incandescent exit signs and emergency lighting with high efficiency LED based lights. The exits signs consume electricity 24 x 7 x 365. The switch to LED dropped consumption from 40 watts to 4 watts; a 10 fold decrease in consumption.
- Smart Thermostats. USAT has installed smart scheduling thermostats throughout our facilities. With these we are able to reduce HVAC demands when offices are vacant. In 2011 we updated all scheduling thermostats to wireless scheduling thermostats. This enables us to even more precisely manage the thermostats leveraging the power of the internet cloud for conservation.
- Energy Star 5 Requirement. As of 2011, all computer monitors purchases are required to meet or exceed the Energy Star 5 These monitors are LED backlit, have non-use sleep modes and are tested and certified to consume less electricity. Traditional LCD displays we have replaced under this initiative consumed 75-85 watts, while their replacements consume 15-20 watts; a five-fold reduction in electricity consumption.
- Paperless Office Initiative: In 2006, USAT transformed into a paperless office. This initiative provided guidelines to phasing out paper usage at USAT wherever plausible. Our Accounting Department is mandated to request paperless invoicing via EFT with our clients, and to use digital forms internally. In addition, USAT provides quotes to clients digitally, using Adobe Acrobat forms. Marketing materials are also mandated to be digital, instead of paper, whenever possible. Printouts are used sparingly, and when possible are printed in duplex-front and back- to reduce paper usage.
- Preference for Diesel Fueled Vehicles for high mileage equipment. USAT has standardized our van purchases on Mercedes Turbo-Diesel Sprinters. This decision was driven by gas mileage metrics, in order to make sure that our company was doing its part to conserve fossil fuels.
- Low Flow Toilet Plan. USAT replaced our toilets in our corporate headquarters with modern, “low-flow” toilets to reduce water usage by 40%.
- Incandescent Lighting Switch-out. In 2008, USAT replaced all recessed incandescent lighting in our headquarters with compact florescent fixtures. In 2011, USAT replaced dimmable incandescent with dimmable LED lights, cutting the wattage from 50 watts to 8 watts with each bulb.
Environmental Commitment 2
In 2015, when USAT relocated its headquarters to a larger facility, commercial recycling did not exist at the facility. Working with Orange County Recycling, we brought these service to the facility, so that we now have on premises recycling for office waste.
Many times, USAT is tasked with updating older field computing and communications systems with new products that our clients purchase from us. We are committed to keeping old technology from the land-fill. For nominal costs, USAT will remove from our clients’ premises and recycle old vehicle computing and communications technology, and ‘bent metal’ technology mounts. We thoroughly sanitize all removable media storage to comply with our clients’ privacy concerns using prevailing NISC data sanitizations standards. Following client requests, we either scrap and recycle, or refurbish for reuse.
USAT Corp. has collected many ruggedized laptops acquired from customers during upgrades. We refurbish, rebuild, and update the OS, and gift some of these laptops to different schools and social organizations such as the YMCA, WiderNet, and the Human Rights Center. The units are given a new purpose and are not in a landfill, while benefiting people who otherwise may not have access to computers.
USAT has partnered with a metal scrapping and recycling specialist. We use this approach for equipment taken out of service including refrigerators, kitchen appliances, and file cabinets, and for unsellable, out-of-date equipment collected from customers. The material is separated into material types and smelted for the raw resources.
Environmental Commitment 3
- In 2014, we installed a DC Fast Charging system for electric vehicle charging. A level-3 DC charger is designed to recharge the majority of an electric vehicle’s battery within one hour. On sunny days, our solar arrays will fully offset the demand of our electric vehicle supercharging.
- In 2013, we replaced all HVAC units in one of our larger facilities to high efficiency 16 seer variable speed, dual stage HVAC units with web enabled automatic setback thermostats.
- In 2011, USAT pursued a Lumens-Per-Watt Improvement Program. In this we switched out 270 40watt T-12 style florescent bulbs for new, more efficient 28 watt T-8 bulbs and new hi-efficiency ballasts resulting in equal light volume with 30%-35% decreased electrical consumption.
- By 2011, over 95% of our invoices deliver electronically. This reduces paper consumption, ink consumption, printer replacement, and trips to the post office.
- Renewable Material Flooring. When a new floor was needed in our conference facility in 2006, we used a woven grass carpet, which is a readily renewable resource. The material did not withstand a subsequent water leak, and we replaced it with a bamboo hardwood floor. Another readily renewable resource.
- Bicycle Hub . USAT’s corporate headquarters are located in Chapel Hill, NC, a town that is very forward-thinking. Chapel Hill’s Blue Urban Bikes (BUB) Hub initiative provides bicycles to its citizens free of cost, in order to encourage people to ride bikes instead of driving in cars. The way the program works is that the bikes are left at various high-traffic hubs and you ride the bike anywhere you want but are morally obligated to drop it off at a Hub once you are done with it. USAT Corp. is an ideal BUB Hub since our office is located in the urban center. The hub location is administrated out of USAT’s corporate office.
- HVAC Impact Reduction Initiative. USAT’s corporate server room emits so much heat that air-conditioners are required to keep the room cool, even during cold winter months. In order to mitigate the waste of this heat, USAT has designed a duct and fan system that removes the heat from the server room during the winter time and funnels it out to the offices nearby. This effort to capture the heat created by the servers saves on energy bills and helps USAT reduce fossil fuel usage. During warmer months, we now use ducting to funnel the heat from the servers out of the cooled office space, which keeps the room 10 degrees cooler, reducing the amount of time per day the Air Conditioning system must run.