Featured in Business NH Magazine
Published Monday, August 16, 2010 7:00 am
by JIM CAVAN
Two weeks ago, a group led by Green Alliance Director Sarah Brown took the Seacoast region”s green message national.
Comprised of green business leaders and government officials from both New Hampshire and Maine, the group spent the better part of a week in Washington, D.C., lobbying both Congressional delegations on the significance of climate change and green jobs legislation. On Wednesday, D.C. returned the favor, visiting NH.
With a group that included U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D), as well as various business leaders from throughout the region, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spent part of the day at Portsmouth”s Regeneration Park.
The brainchild of Dover”s Simply Green Biofuels founder Andrew Kellar, Regeneration Park, which is housed in the former Toyota dealership on Lafayette Road, hopes to one day serve as the home to 30-40 new green jobs.
“We”re standing here in New Hampshire”s future,” said Solis, a former Democratic Representative from California. “This movement is strong, and growing stronger.”
Though still in the beginning phases of construction, the site boasts plenty of unused wood and insulation throughout. And, in addition to housing green jobs, another goal for Regeneration Park is to eventually produce as much energy as it uses, making use of an enormous solar array on the warehouse”s roof.
According to Kellar, part of the reasoning behind the solar system that will provide heat, hot water, and central air conditioning is to save money for tenants.
“Because there”s a difference between what we”re charging for monthly utilities and what it will actually cost, we want to set up an energy fund internally for tenant improvements,” explains Kellar, named in 2009 as one of the “25 Leaders of the Future” inBusiness NH magazine. “It will be a great way to just keep passing on the savings to our tenants.”
Kellar cited green, and still expensive, LED lighting as one retrofit he sees Regeneration Park undertaking once the tenant funds are up and running. Until then, the site will feature more cost effective compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) when it opens within the year.
Mike Behrmann of Revolution Energy, a Portsmouth firm tasked with installing the solar array, sees energy independence as a path to a new, sustainable economy.
“With small businesses facing so many challenges as it is, they don”t need another one from their energy bills,” says Behrmann. “By providing onsite generation through solar power we”re able to remove that vulnerability while having no impact to the environment”
Regeneration”s solar project will also involve Jack Bingham, owner of SEA Solar Store in Dover. Revolution will provide financing and Bingham”s SEA will most likely provide the hardware.
But the solar array won”t be the building”s only green feature. According to Kellar, during the retrofit upwards of 90 percent of the space”s original building materials will be recycled, reused, or donated. Even a portion of the expansive wooden floors were once used by the Detroit Pistons basketball team as their home floor.
Simply Green, SEA Solar Store, and Revolution Energy are all members of the Green Alliance, a Seacoast-based green business union and discount member co-op that helps raise the profile of green businesses throughout the region.
For Green Alliance “s Brown, who headed the green jobs delegation, the Portsmouth gathering was a vindication for how far her organization, and the green movement in general, have come.
“Here in New Hampshire we”re not just sitting around waiting for someone to make it happen; we”re making it happen, starting new green businesses when so many other industries are struggling to stay relevant,” she says.
In her speech, Solis also touted the funding the Obama Administration has diverted to NH to assist existing workers and create new jobs in the green sector.