Michael Shapiro has always been interested in ways to “go green.” He drives an electric car, their family grows vegetables and herbs, and of course, recycles as much as possible. It comes as no surprise that his personal desire to reduce his carbon footprint floats over to his professional life.
“We probably go through hundreds of thousands of pounds of wood and metal each year.” explains Shapiro. “While most of that goes into projects, there is always material leftover.”
Just because there are unused materials doesn’t mean they go in to the trash. Beginning with a very modest paper recycling program fifteen years ago, Ravenswood continued to increase their material-use efficiency, recycle as many products as possible, and properly dispose of items such as paint and chemically harsh supplies to lower environmental impact. On average per year, Ravenswood recycles, 15,000 pounds of paper/cardboard, 4,000 pounds of various plastics, 18,000 pounds of metal, 500 pounds of electronics and small appliances, and over 100 pounds of various types of batteries a year.
Ravenswood Studio’s latest venture into green initiatives includes transforming its’ facility powered by solar energy. In the summer of 2020, over 400 solar panels were installed by Windfree Solar with all of them fully operational in October. The panels reside on the roof of Ravenswood Studio and sister creative design agency, Luci Creative. While the two companies have separate studios, they’re housed in the same building to maintain their close working relationship.
On bright, sunny days, Ravenswood isn’t just powering its entire 100,000 square foot shop with the new solar panels, but they are is also producing surplus electricity that is fed back to the grid. Shapiro notes, while it’s nice to be reducing overhead costs, that’s not the point.
“We all need to be doing our part to reuse, recycle, and protect our environment as much as possible,” he says. “We work in an industry where, in addition to producing permanent or long-term exhibits, we build a lot of single-use/event custom items. If there is anything Ravenswood or Luci can be doing environmentally to make up for that, we do it.”
In addition to its new reliance on solar energy, Ravenswood helps its clients educate others about sustainability. For Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Ravenswood fabricated a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) demonstration house in Stockton, California. The home includes interactives and an immersive environment that provides visitors with information about energy saving technologies.
For Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Ravenswood built exhibits for a new community center on the north side of Chicago. This community center focuses consumer energy savings, emerging green technologies, student energy education, and acts as a training center for future line workers. This facility is scheduled to open in early 2021. Both the ComEd and PG&E experiences were designed by Luci Creative.
As for what’s next on Ravenswood’s green initiative list, Shapiro says he’s always interested in surpassing where they are now. “Both Ravenswood and Luci have learned about energy conservation and green living over the years from our environmental projects, personal interest, and an overall will-to-do and be better. We design and build with the environment in mind and know that mindfulness must extend well outside the walls of our shop.”
If you are interested in learning more about Ravenswood Studio and their shop related sustainability, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.