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Sustainability from the Ground Up Infusing the Energy Transition into Your Company’s Work

A Foundational Approach to Sustainability

In late 2021, Apex Clean Energy will move into its new corporate headquarters, in what is now the tallest mass-timber building on the East Coast. When complete, Apex Plaza will represent the company’s long-term commitment to its hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, and reinforce Apex’s mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy.

Once focused solely on utility-scale wind development, Apex now provides highly customized energy solutions for some of the world’s largest and most environmentally committed corporations and utilities, including Facebook, McDonald’s, IKEA, and Algonquin Power & Utilities. Even as the clean energy technologies encompassing Apex’s portfolio have expanded to include solar, battery storage, distributed energy, and green hydrogen, one thing remains the same: the team’s singular focus on creating a more sustainable future.

To work toward this aspirational “north star,” it is critical for Apex to act and lead on sustainability using solutions that transcend its business model. Apex Plaza applies best practices learned from the company’s partners and global sustainability leaders in architecture and interior design, creating what Apex hopes is a model for future office design and construction across the country.

But a sustainable new headquarters is only the utmost way to show your customers—and just as important, your employees—that you walk the talk on your core values. Through incentive programs and other, smaller steps that also move the needle, every corporation (and individual) can play a part in the shift to a more sustainable future for all.

Whatever your company’s focus may be, and whatever your ESG goals, there are tangible, achievable steps you can take as part of the energy transition, alongside purchasing wind or solar power, that start right at home—or the home office. Here’s how Apex, one step at a time, has worked to incorporate its core value of sustainability into every facet of the organization.

Assemble the Framework

Apex’s new headquarters is built from cross-laminated mass timber with minimal environmental impact. The timber, sourced from 1.6 million board feet of black spruce trees, represents seven minutes of growth in North American forests and connects Apex’s work to the preservation of the natural world.

Watch a 3D video about Apex Plaza:

Install On-Site Solar

Less than 1% of commercial electricity demand is served by on-site solar, leaving significant opportunity for growth. Apex Plaza’s 875-panel solar array will produce over 350 megawatt-hours of electricity—enough to power about 60% of Apex’s 108,000 square feet of office space. Half of the panels will be mounted on the rooftop, while a second PV canopy, located on the building’s green roof terrace, will provide shade for gatherings. For employees, visitors, and community members, the panels serve as a visual reminder of Apex’s priorities.

Apex has an industry-leading portfolio of more than 30 GW. Over the past decade, it has originated nearly 7 GW of wind and solar energy that is now operating, including on-site solar at Fort Hood in Texas (pictured). From behind-the-meter solutions to innovative, long-term power contracts, Apex is expanding the renewable frontier across North America at multiple scales.
Subsidize Residential Panels

One of the first sustainability incentives that Apex established, the Solar Power Incentive program, provides employees with cash rebates for the purchase and installation of residential solar generation systems. Employees are eligible for a bonus equivalent to 15% of the total price of the system, up to a maximum of $4,000. So far, Apexers have installed enough solar at their homes to offset the carbon emissions from burning 150,000 pounds of coal.

A second solar incentive program, introduced in 2021, brings the community in on Apex’s sustainability efforts. Through the Solar Nonprofit Grant program, the company invites employees who are actively involved with a nonprofit to nominate the nonprofit for a $2,500 grant to be applied to the cost of a solar system for their building.

Go Electric

The parking garage of Apex Plaza will feature more than a dozen electric vehicle charging stations fueled by the building’s solar array, allowing Apex employees to charge their electric vehicles with sunlight harvested in real time.

Approximately 10 percent of Apexers have purchased an EV since the company introduced the DriveElectric program in 2015. Through the program, Apex pays a bonus to employees for the purchase of all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, up to $4,000. Combined with government tax credits and any car dealership promotions, the incentive can offset the cost of a new EV enough that oftentimes it’s cheaper than a gasoline car. And the fuel, of course, is low-cost or free.

More recently, Apex introduced its Electrify Everything program, which pushes the concept further: now, Apex employees are incentivized to purchase electric tools that have historically been powered by fuel, as well as battery-assisted bicycles, for a rebate of up to $500 per year.

Deploy an All-EV Fleet

In early 2021, Apex took its efforts to reduce passenger vehicle emissions to the wind and solar facilities the company builds and operates on behalf of its customers.

Apex partnered with XL Fleet, a leader in fleet electrification solutions, to equip its project teams with a diverse array of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Apex deployed plug-in hybrid vehicles to its operations employees, who will have access to charging infrastructure being installed at operational wind and solar facilities. Hybrid vehicles will be used by Apex’s on-site construction teams, who currently do not have regular access to charging infrastructure and will benefit from the regenerative braking provided by the XL Fleet hybrid system.

Build Resiliency Through Battery Storage

Apex manages its customers’ renewable energy facilities from its Remote Operations Control Center (ROCC), which is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by a team of highly skilled operators who monitor and control all of the geographically dispersed wind and solar assets remotely.

The ROCC is equipped with state-of-the-art large-format displays and multi-monitoring systems, which provide the operators full visibility and detailed access to each wind and solar farm and their supplemental supporting applications. Needless to say, power is critical for the ROCC’s operations. At Apex Plaza, the battery storage system will provide a day’s worth of electricity—specifically for the ROCC and the company’s data center—should an outage occur.

Explore Energy Efficiency

Until Apex Plaza is complete, the company continues to lease office space, so workplace sustainability efforts must fit into the existing infrastructure. Apex began with low-hanging fruit, such as switching from incandescent lights to LEDs, which resulted in a 50% energy reduction for lighting year over year.

The new building will feature thermally broken window frames and rain screens, Solarban® 90 glass, a DensElement™ weather barrier, and Thermafiber insulation. The high-efficiency mechanical systems, such as refrigerant flow equipment and an energy recovery ventilator, will result in low energy consumption and low operating costs.

To encourage Apexers to invest in their own homes’ energy efficiency, the company introduced the Home Energy Efficiency program, which reimburses the cost of a home energy assessment and up to $250 in qualified energy efficiency upgrades, such as insulation and programmable thermostats.

Learn more about Apex’s sustainability incentive programs:

Elevate the Daily Human Experience

Located in the heart of downtown Charlottesville, Apex Plaza will be home to the company’s more than 150 local employees, many of whom live close enough to commute by foot or bike. An urban, walkable headquarters has been the priority of Apex’s founders since the company’s early days, and in 2016 they established the Parking Cash Out program to encourage Apexers to give up their parking space and walk, bike, or carpool to work in exchange for a monthly bonus. Because Apex Plaza will house the offices of several other businesses and provide parking for an adjacent fitness center, spaces will still come at a premium—making this incentive as vital and desirable as ever.

Building a sustainable future starts with living and working sustainably. For Apex, this core value is integral to everything it does as a mission-driven company. But truly paving the way required Apex to think above and beyond its business model and vigorously pursue sustainability in every regard—and it can help your company do the same.

Contact Apex Clean Energy to learn more about its offerings.