We believe that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and safer world.
Our mission is to tear down the barriers that have made renewable energy inaccessible. We intend to repower our communities one home, school, and business at a time.
We make going solar easy and affordable so that all Vermonters can together create our healthier environment and safer world.
This innovative approach is the outgrowth of a successful pilot program that was operated within the Vermont Public Interest Research Group or VPIRG, our state’s largest consumer and environmental advocacy organization whose members support policies to increase renewable energy production but also yearned for sustainable energy sources for themselves. So VPIR
G Energy was created to make it easy and affordable for Vermonters to go solar. The project created a volume of consumers who wanted solar, and grouped them in specific communities to create real efficiencies, and dramatically reduced the cost of solar. In just one year, that effort generated helped more than 300 Vermont families to go solar – suggesting the innovative business model had legs.
To allow it to scale up to serve that many more Vermonters, it needed investment capital so a separate entity was created to operate freely of the non-profit VPIRG — and SunCommon was born at the beginning of 2012.
Our philosophy of business
There was a time when religion was the most influential aspect of human culture. Then government took prominence. More recently, corporations have taken hold in many ways that negatively affect our lives – from environmental degradation to worker exploitation to dominance of our democracy. But an emerging movement of socially responsible business rejects the notion that commerce must be at the expense of the planet and its people. SunCommon aspires to join this values-led business community – and contribute our part to growing it.
So SunCommon is a pioneering Benefit Corporation, only Vermont’s ninth such business with a legal charter that directs us to attend to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Businesses in America typically are actually required by law to maximize shareholder profit. Benefit Corporations put their investors, employees, neighbors and all stakeholders on notice that while we intend to make a profit so that we can invest in the business and grow, we also will do right by our workers, the communities in which we operate and the habitats that sustain us. The Vermont statute under which we incorporated requires an annual report on our progress and shortcomings as a Benefit Corporation. Here’s SunCommon’s 2012 Annual Benefit Report, our first.
We compensate our workers well and offer generous employee benefits. Our offices are in intentionally designed space that burn no fossil fuel but generate all the sustainable energy we need on site, in a building constructed largely from local and reused materials. Our vehicle fleet is comprised of electric cars (fueled off of our solar panels) and the highest-mileage hybrids we could find.
Among the joys of running a business is the ability to apply our personal values to every business decision we make. We won’t always get it right the first time, but we are committed to operating this business to benefit our people and our planet.
A big part of how we have brought the cost of solar down to the same as what Vermonters are paying the utility now is our ability to work within communities to help neighbors go solar, together while creating economies of scale that allow you to save by going solar. When lots of people in a community want to go solar, we’ll show up to help you save with solar. Our organizers can work with you to educate your community and get the word out that your town can go solar.
Where this is available now
- Chittenden County
- Washington County
- Addison County
- Franklin County
- Grand Isle County
- Stowe (which is just a couple of miles up Route 100 from our offices in Waterbury’s Energy Mill)
When SunCommon began in March of 2012, we regretfully had to avoid the City of Burlington because its required permits, inspections and fees made solar prohibitively expensive there. Those policies meant far fewer solar systems in Burlington than neighboring communities. Newly-elected Mayor Miro Weinberger is committed to increasing renewable energy and has worked to simplify the process for Burlingtonians to go solar. So SunCommon is now helping Burlington homeowners go solar too.
Bring us to your town
You can help us decide where to make this offer available next. By signing up online here – and encouraging your friends, family and neighbors to do the same – you can create a critical mass of folks who want to go solar and bring us to your town.Sign up here