Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walking the not-cheap green walk at LRRD.

 
Three years ago, an NSF reviewer who rejected a proposal including our models wrote they were "too expensive," and we should "provide them at cost."  He meant "cost of parts," a terribly flawed idea.

Our basic Em2 requires a lot of labor to build, setting aside the thousands of hours we've spent on design. 

A Daystar light in our formerly dark back room.
At LRRD we pay well and provide good benefits, and our only source of income is sales and investment by my wife Kate and me.  So "at cost" includes a lot of things besides parts, even if we make zero profit.

Somebody paid for the roof over the NSF reviewer's building -- a part of the cost of anything he does.

At LRRD we've just installed about $30,000 worth of roof and lighting.

Our contractor stripped off and landfilled nearly 30,000 pounds of unrecyclable (in Southern Illinois) asphalt shingle roofing. 

The cheapest option was more of that, but instead we used 2,500 pounds of metal, chosen for maximum environmental benefit, including a 40+ year lifespan and complete recyclability.

And we installed skylights to provide most of our lighting needs.  They're called DayStar units, and are built by Amish workers nearby.  The cost was about $1,400 per unit; a very long payback period at current electricity rates, but we now have amazing sun-powered lighting.

Alee gives our roofers an Em2 demonstration.
Above, you see us having great fun with the light that formerly bounced unused off our roof, and Baine Roofing guys getting fluvial geomorphology schooling from Alee.  Below, a glimpse of Amish workers (who asked their likeness not be published) installing the lights. 


Our models may seem expensive to grant reviewers.  But the Em2 will always be sold at the lowest price we can afford, which has to include salaries and benefits and sustainable roofing.  


Alee in the crazy mirrored sun tunnel below the Daystar
lights as they're installed.
Our clients who understand what things cost paid for this.  And we bring much-needed money into economically-depressed Southern Illinois, and create great jobs.

When all was done, our Moroccan-born Muslim business manager, Meriam, handed the Amish foreman a check, and we all smiled.

The DayStar installation was designed and arranged by Steve Johnson, owner of Southern Lights LLC.  The Amish owners of DayStar can be reached at 618.426.1868 and don't have a web presence.



Christina watching our Daystar light installation.





No comments: