Building green pays off for Edgerton graphics company

Print Print
Stacy Vogel
Monday, June 22, 2009
— The thermostat was set to 63 degrees at Large Format Digital last winter, but few complained, President Jeff Rank said.

In fact, people were walking around without shoes because the floor was so warm.

Radiant heating, in which pipes under the floor provide heat from the ground up, was just one thing Large Format Digital installed in its Edgerton building last year to make it as energy efficient as possible.

"They've gone above and beyond what normal companies do," said Scott Reigstad, a spokesman for Alliant Energy.

Those installations are paying off for the company in the form of shrinking energy bills. The company, which specializes in designing and installing graphics on vehicles, pays as much for energy in its 20,000-square-foot Edgerton building as it once did for a 1,500-square-foot building in Madison, Rank said.

Rank and his wife, Elizabeth Kavanaugh, brought the 11-year-old company to Edgerton after it outgrew its Madison headquarters. There was no question they would build an environmentally friendly facility, he said.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do," he said. "Everything we looked at would pay itself off in five to seven years."

Besides the radiant heat system, the building includes:

-- double-wall concrete to keep heat and air conditioning in.

-- windows around the top of the building to let in natural light. The dividing walls don't go to the top, so all the rooms benefit from the light.

-- florescent and LED lights. The lights have a monitoring system that tells not only when people are in a room but also how much daylight is in the room.

Builders made the roof strong enough to support a prairie someday. The prairie would absorb rainwater and insulate the building while releasing oxygen.

Rank planned to put the prairie roof on this year but decided to wait because of the poor economy, he said.

He also hopes to add wind turbines someday and run the radiant heat system from solar energy, he said.

The extra elements added about 30 percent to the cost of the building and made construction take months longer than expected, Rank said. The company rented a facility in downtown Edgerton for 10 months before moving into the new building in June 2008.

Alliant offered low-interest loans for about half of the extra costs through the Shared Savings program.

The company extends its green philosophy to its business practices. It has a flex-fuel delivery truck that can run on 85 percent ethanol; its company car is a hybrid, and its office equipment is Energy Star certified.

But Rank insists the company isn't looking for attention or glory for its environmentally friendly ways.

"We really did it for our own self-serving interests, to get the most efficiency possible," he said. "It wasn't for show or flash."

Last updated: 10:37 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

Print Print