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Maine dairy isn't just milking sustainability angle

Maine dairy isn't just milking sustainability angle

Posting in Sustainability

The 88-year-old, family-owned Oakhurst Dairy in Maine isn't just milking sustainability as a business differentiator. The company has just completed i...

The 88-year-old, family-owned Oakhurst Dairy in Maine isn't just milking sustainability as a business differentiator. The company has just completed its second solar installation, and it is adopting new technology for its delivery fleet.

These and other measures are helping improve the company's standing and reputation in its Northern New England customer service area, and they also are helping Oakhurst save money.

Here are some data:

  • Oakhurst's new solar photovoltaic system in its Waterville, Main, facility includes 216 panels that cover 3,250 square feet. Not only does it have status as one of the largest solar installations in Maine, the technology will take over approximately 15 percent of the electricity load from the facility, or approximately 45,000 kilowatt hours. That translates into a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions about about 70,000 pounds.

Solar panels at the Oakhurst Dairy

  • The dairy will reduce its footprint by another 52,000 pounds or so through a new hybrid delivery truck that will be used to deliver products in a 70-mile radius from Oakhurst's headquarters in Portland. The truck uses 30 percent to 50 percent less fuel than the alternative.
  • On 25 of its larger semi delivery trucks, Oakhurst will install side panels that are supposed to improve aerodynamics and, therefore, fuel efficiency. The dairy figures that it will save between 6 percent and 8 percent in fuel costs based on current driving habits (an average of 30,000 miles annually per truck). The retrofit should be completed by the end of 2010. The dairy figures it will cut about 7.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually through the retrofit.

While I wouldn't exactly call Oakhurst "small," its action are proof that your company doesn't have be huge to think sustainably.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure