OWC Named Green Tech Company of the Year by BIG

OWC Logo

TUAW, and I'm sure the Mac community at large, would like to congratulate Other World Computing (OWC) in Woodstock, Ill., for being named Green Tech Company of the Year by Business Intelligence Group (BIG). OWC shares the award with Betsy's Bricks, a heating pellet manufacturer and Arise Virtual Solutions, a work-at-home call center company.

Business Intelligence Group's industry awards program uses a "unique scoring system [that] selectively measures performance across multiple business domains and then rewards those companies whose achievements stand above their peers." Twenty judges from a variety of industries are listed on the site.

OWC is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. It has been successful in a variety of ways, starting with its 2008 move to a low-environmental impact headquarters. The OWC campus is 100 percent on-site wind powered.

OWC headquarters

As noted in the OWC blog: "On October 19, 2009, OWC became the first technology manufacturer/distributor in the US to become 100 percent on-site wind powered by switching its daily operations energy needs over to a Vestas V39-500 kW wind turbine."

OWC WInd Turbine

The turbines also provide a unique iPhone case testing environment. You can read Steve Sande's article on how OWC tested their NewerTech's NuGuard KX for iPhone 5 by tossing it off one of their wind turbines (minute 3:35).

As part of OWC's green action program they use a comprehensive recycling program that includes onsite paper, plastic and can recycling. According to the company's blog, it rejects "non-recyclable pallets from vendor deliveries, recycles obsolete equipment through electronic equipment recyclers and reuses packaging materials (such as foam peanuts, etc.) whenever possible."

In March 2010, the OWC campus was awarded the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute. OWC was one of fewer than 300 companies to achieve this status at the time. You can view a virtual building tour on OWC's "Think Green" site.

In an email conversation with OWC CEO Lawrence O'Connor, he told me:

Everything we do is about an ongoing evolution. There are always new boundaries to push and not only is that reflected in our products, but in how we operate OWC as well. Team OWC is aware and engaged providing the best to our customers and with respect to our natural resources. Our focus on upgrading and extend the useful lifespan Macs is right in the same vein with maximizing the resources and minimizing waste which drives us.

A year ago we took over a building in Austin, TX which is now our Creative Design HQ. Right now solar is being erected on the roof which will be generating for at least half the total requirements of this 3 story facility by December. Be it a Mac or the space we call our own, we're always working to make it better and maximize.

OWC's Woodstock site includes more than 20 acres of protected conservation wetlands and in 2012, a pair of sandhill cranes came to the area. The sandhill crane has suffered greatly from a loss of habitat and OWC hopes they continue to visit their bird-friendly wetlands. According to O'Conner, "OWC team members have erected signs to inform and raise awareness for where turtles cross the street" also.

According to the press release, "Other World Computing's efforts to reduce waste, recycle materials and use less energy include" the following list of features:

  • On-site Vestas V39-500 kW Wind Turbine Geothermal underground system for heating and air conditioning.

  • High-energy value materials in roofing and walls.

  • Pyrolytic glass to reduce UV rays and cooling costs.

  • Interior lighting enhanced with daylight harvesting technology.

  • Interior wall and floor coverings that reduce emissions of VOC (volatile organic compounds).

  • Groundwater protected by a bio-aquifer storm system.

  • High-efficiency, water-saving plumbing fixtures

  • "Smart room" technology to reduce energy use in unused spaces.

  • In-house water filtration to reduce plastic bottled water use.

  • High-end air filtering for staff health benefits

  • Continual recycling programs with "Zero Waste" goal.

  • Office and warehouse layouts optimized for efficient heating/cooling.

Kudos to OWC!

[Disclaimer: I used to work for OWC and use their hard drive products regularly, so I'm a tad biased.]