Westerlay’s Commitment to Sustainability - New steps towards our goal of carbon neutral production
A key part of our long term vision at Westerlay Orchids is to focus on sustainability through the continuous reduction of our carbon footprint. Thus far, we have invested in solar panels, energy curtains, and a robust offset program that will combine to reduce Westerlay’s carbon footprint by 43 percent in 2021, with a vision of achieving carbon-neutral production by 2026.
As technology develops, Westerlay president Toine Overgaag anticipates that eventually, carbon-neutral production will be within reach. “That’s the ultimate goal for us, to produce our orchids carbon-free. However, because we are not yet able to, this year, for the first time, we are investing in a carbon offset program whereby we are directly investing in a wind power project in India that will offset 2,399 tCO2 (tons of carbon).”
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. Greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, methane, and more, trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Every person has their own carbon footprint, and companies do as well. To avoid a rise in global temperatures, which would negatively impact ecological systems, the global carbon footprint needs to drop substantially. A shift to renewable energy sources like natural gas, wind, and solar power will help achieve this.
Since 2019, Westerlay has worked with Carbon Footprint of Hampshire, United Kingdom, to measure carbon emissions and determine their strategy for reduction. This third-party verification service audits Westerlay’s carbon footprint and administers the carbon offset program. Carbon Footprint is working with Westerlay to calculate, aim, reduce, and offset carbon use, with an ultimate goal of carbon neutrality, by establishing practical improvements to reduce carbon emissions.
Westerlay is undertaking three significant efforts in 2021 to reduce its carbon footprint by 43 percent from 2020:
- Westerlay is working with Wicks Roofing and Solar, installing 561 solar voltaic cells forecast to generate 320 kWh per year of electricity at its primary location at 3504 Via Real, Carpinteria. This will provide 100 percent of all electrical needs for this facility. Westerlay has plans for the installation of solar panels at their Foothill facility in 2022 as well.
- Westerlay is working with Greenhouse System in replacing insulating energy curtains in over 650,000 square feet of greenhouses. This is estimated to save 55,000 therms of natural gas used for heating.
- Through Carbon Footprint, Westerlay is offsetting carbon emissions by 2,399 tCo2 through direct financial support to construct a wind power facility in Tamil Nadu, India.
These efforts at Westerlay will build on past efforts like installing a 300,000 square foot drainage catch system in 2018 that reduced water use by 38 percent. Another payoff beyond the conservation of water has been a reduction in natural gas consumption. Channeling the water enables a dryer environment in the greenhouse and requires less heating to maintain temperature and humidity. Westerlay was able to reduce its natural gas consumption by 11 percent, an amount in terms of carbon footprint equivalent to taking 29 cars off the road. Westerlay has achieved an ‘A’ rating every year since 2015 from MPS, the internationally recognized independent horticultural rating agency and the carbon reduction efforts have contributed this ‘A’ rating. MPS certification goes above and beyond local and state regulations and ensures that Westerlay will always be in compliance while voluntarily maintaining standards that exceed the letter of the law.
As we embrace eco-friendly changes at Westerlay and set an example for sustainability. Overgaag believes that by serving as an inspiration to other companies, Westerlay can help engage and create an even more significant change.