What Are B Corporations, and Why Are They Important?

What Are B Corporations, and Why Are They Important?

SunCommon Tree Planting Day 2021

When it comes to the important purchases in our lives, we’ve never had more options to select from. Should you make your choice based on price? Quality? Customer reviews? Or perhaps the company behind the product is just as important to consider. Many businesses exist solely to make a profit, while others are established to also create a positive social or environmental impact. One way to know how a company stacks up is through third party certifications — like the stamp of a Certified B Corporation.

Certified B Corporation Logo with sparkle

How does a company become a B Corp?

Becoming a Certified B Corporation entails a rigorous evaluation process, administered by the non-profit B Lab, in which companies must showcase their business impact in five key areas: environment, workers, community impact, company governance, and customers. B Corps are also obligated to be accountable to and create benefit for all stakeholders — not just shareholders.

SunCommon was created with the purpose of addressing the climate crisis by breaking down the barriers to clean energy, and we’ve been a Certified B Corp from the very start. While Certified B Corps must score at least 80 out of 200 on B Lab’s annual assessment, and the median score is an 84, SunCommon scored 106.1 in our most recent certification!

Every decision is an opportunity to live our values.

Obtaining B Corp status also requires that businesses honor a triple-bottom-line commitment to people (employees, customers, and communities), planet (we focus on our proud local roots in both New York and Vermont, as well as the world at large as we work to combat climate change), and profit. In other words, this commitment ensures that profits are not valued above people or planet.

We believes that every business decision is an opportunity to live these values. For example, when needing to buy new company cars, we committed to buying electric vehicles whenever possible, and when we source our materials, we focus as much as we can on local vendors (in order to reduce our carbon footprint) as well as on vendors who share our commitment to environmental and social justice.

Chevy Bolt Under Solar Canopy

As you can see, the B Corp stamp represents much more than just providing quality products or exceptional service; any company can buy and sell things, but a B Corp certification requires that companies bring immense care into every aspect of their work. So while reading customer reviews and making sure you’re getting a quality product are certainly good ideas, choosing a Certified B Corp means you’re also making a positive impact in the world by voting with your dollar.


If going solar with a Certified B Corporation sounds good to you, give us a shout! We’ll answer any questions and then start rolling up our sleeves for you right away.

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How We Buy With Our B Corp Values: Local and Climate Conscious

At SunCommon, we purchase with intention. Whether we’re buying sunscreen for our solar installers or panels for your roof, we make sure that we’re partnering with responsible companies. We do that by asking important questions like:

  • Is the vendor we’re considering socially and environmentally responsible?
  • Is their product high quality?
  • Is the company reputable?
  • Good to its employees?
  • Local?

Sure, we look at cost, but that’s not the only factor that influences our buying. As a B Corp, we’re all about balancing purpose and profit. 

T-shirts: A Case Study

We don’t want our solar installers soaking up as much sun as your panels, so we outfit them with UV-protective shirts. Instead of searching for the cheapest UV shirt on the market (probably made overseas and out of toxic materials), we looked for a company with shared values. And we found one! Our UV shirts come from Vapor Apparel, a South Carolina company with a big focus on sustainable manufacturing. That’s the like-minded do-good kind of company that we support.

When our solar installers come to your place, you’ll notice their shirts have the SunCommon logo on it. We’re proud of that cheerful logo and how it represents building our solar community. Our choice of printer for that logo was intentional, too: we’re happy to work with New Duds, a screen printing shop and Community Solar Member in Colchester, not far from our Vermont headquarters. And just down the interstate from there is Select in Burlington. Select does our embroidery work and a few other specialty apparel items, and they operate out of a sustainably restored building with rooftop solar.

Something as basic as buying a T-shirt contributes to a system that benefits our customers, our employees, our communities, and the environment. And so the circle of good continues.

Heat Wave and Solar Savings
Amber solar installer applying sunscreen
Middlebury rooftop array

American Made Panels

We recently partnered with LG as our primary solar panel supplier, and we’re excited to say that they offer American-made panels! LG, known for their quality home appliance and electronics manufacturing, has recently emerged as one of the best solar panel providers on the market. Not only are these panels highly efficient, with a strong 25 year warranty, but their standard panels are American-made and a better value than other comparable panels. We’re proud to offer these as our primary panels and the best value to our customers. 

Environmental Ethics & Packaging

You know when you get a package in the mail, and you have to tear through a ton of excess packing material before you get your hands on whatever it is you ordered? This happened with our C-clamps. Here’s the real story from Luke, SunCommon’s supply chain manager:

“On the roof we have little clamps that secure the panels in place. We use hundreds of them. They were coming in little plastic bags of four. Not only do you have to cut them open, but you have to throw them away.

Over the course of six months, I spoke with our vendor and advised them on packaging and volumes. I suggested a lot more clamps in a big cardboard box with no plastic.

They completely switched over, and I haven’t seen a plastic bag since the end of 2017 or something. Now, when they launch new products, they often show up and hand them to us and say, ‘What do you think about this?’ That feedback is important for them, and they do listen.”

Part of being a B Corp is encouraging other companies to use best practices. Like Luke did making the call for more environmentally friendly packaging. When other companies listen and take action, B Corp values go farther, doing even more good for the planet.

Luke Cady Solar Warehouse Forklift
OrangeChicoBag-edit

Weighing the Options

We tried to create a reusable shopping bag for our customers. Our first thought was a cotton tote, but it turns out that cotton is incredibly resource hungry! It takes so much energy to create a cotton tote bag that you’d have to reuse it every day for 55 years for its carbon footprint to be less than that of a single-use plastic bag. The bag we ultimately decided on is made of recycled materials by a fellow B Corp: Chico Bags. The materials they use don’t contribute to micro plastics in the ocean and they help turn a material that would have just been trash into something usable.

Our Fleet – Staying Local

Let’s talk vehicle maintenance! At our Waterbury headquarters, we’ve stuck with our local shop, CARS (Complete Automotive Repair Service), since our early days when we had just a handful of cars. Today we have a fleet of 70! Our fleet management company wanted us to switch our maintenance over to a national company, but we weren’t willing to leave our local partner. We know that 70 cars is a lot of business for a small town. So instead we encouraged the fleet management company to make CARS one of their vendors, and they did! CARS even built a quonset hut to house all of our tires when we switch over for the summer and winter seasons. We have a great mutual relationship, and our local economy benefits from it.

Chevy Bolt Under Solar Canopy

Learn more about B Corps by checking out our How We Roll page.

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Two Generations of Vermonters in Jericho Get Rooftop Solar

Two Generations in Jericho, Vermont Have SunCommon in Common

Ryan Dudley and his dad, Deane, have some things in common. They’re next door neighbors, they both have rooftop solar from SunCommon, and they share the same first name. Wait a minute, how are Ryan and Deane the same name? Ryan’s legal name is Deane, but he goes by Ryan because living next to your dad and having the same name would probably be pretty confusing.

Ryan is a math and science teacher in Essex and a DJ on the side. He homebrews, has a wife and three kids, and still makes it to our SunCommon events. He definitely has a lot of energy! And we’re glad that his home, and his dad’s, have good energy, too — powered by good, clean sun.

The system we installed in May 2016 is 12.29 kW (that’s 39 panels)!

Ode to my Solar Array

The days of paying electric bills are just a fading memory.
Having solar on my home contributes to my harmony.

I track my solar gain and credits every single day.
And enjoy getting utility bills that I need not have to pay.

My credit balance is more than I need so I thought I would start sharing.
So my daughter gets a portion, which keeps me in good standing.

You can tell I’m sold on solar, and my money was well spent.
I recommend you buy your solar system and not consider rent.

I love our planet and want to do my part to keep it healthy.
Going solar and saving Earth is better than being wealthy.

Deane Dudley 
Jericho

Deane Dudley Jericho Rooftop Solar Array

How do I go solar?

The process for going solar is simple. It starts with filling out our get started form. You can do so by clicking the get started button. If you want to know more details about the process and the steps involved between signing up and turning on the power, click the button below to find out more.

Can solar work for you?
Find Out
Where should we send your results?
We have our team of advisors looking at your address to figure out if solar will work for you. Please provide your information below so that we can contact you and give you the results of our solar check.
Submit
Thank you for your submission
Someone will be in touch shortly. If you would like to expedite the process of going solar, and get scheduled for a home visit, please click here to provide additional information about your home.

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Rent Your Home, Own Your Solar. Community Solar Can Help You Save.

As a mission driven business, we are constantly looking for ways to lower the barriers to clean energy. We have designed our community solar arrays (CSAs) to offer home renters of all varieties affordable, clean energy. Whether you’re just starting out in your career, new to the area or downsizing into a condo, we have the solar solution for people who want to save money on their bills.

Renters can go solar too

A community solar array is a field of solar panels. SunCommon’s CSAs allow you to purchase and own solar panels, without putting them on your property. This applies to renters. Even better, you can also claim the federal solar tax credit and the NYSERDA rebate, which means you can save even more money.

Many customers wonder, “What happens if I move in the future, or buy a new home?” Community solar is flexible. If you move to a new home with the same utility, you can still use the solar panels. SunCommon makes the switch easy. Call us, we’ll update your account number, and your new house has solar!

csa community solar ownership or subscription array

Community solar is simple.

Your utility will credit you a dollar amount on your monthly electric bill for your share of solar energy. It’s automatic, just like having solar panels on your roof.

Here’s How Community Solar Works

Members of a CSA use solar credits produced by that array to reduce or eliminate their utility bill. The only requirement to become a member of a Community Solar Array is that you must live within the same utility load zone as the array. Since most utility load zones span counties, towns, and zip codes, our Solar Advisors can help determine which array you would belong to.

Learn more about our Community Solar options near you!

We currently have a CSA option for Central Hudson and Orange & Rockland electric customers.

We only have a limited number of new member spots left available, and this is the last year to claim the full 30% federal solar tax credit.


Want to learn more about how Community Solar works?

For information on how community solar works in general, you can visit our Community Solar page by clicking on the button below. There you will find helpful information on how to become a CSA member, how CSAs actually work, and more. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us directly.

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CSA is a great option if you can’t go solar at home!

We have an amazing affordable solar solution for folks who think they can’t go solar or who have been told NO for onsite solar.

Have you thought about going solar, but couldn’t for one of these reasons?

  • Your roof faces the wrong way and won’t generate electricity well.
  • You don’t own your roof so we can’t install solar on it.
  • You’re in a condo and the HOA won’t allow solar on the roof.
  • Your house has too many trees and is too shady.
  • Your roof is too old and will need to be replaced soon.
  • Your roof is in poor condition and won’t support a solar system.

We’ve got you.

At SunCommon, we believe the energy from the sun can power our lives and build vibrant communities. We partner with local, like-minded organizations to tear down barriers to clean energy. One of the ways we do this is with our community solar arrays.

SunCommon’s Community Solar Array program gives you the opportunity to purchase solar panels in an offsite local solar array.  All of the electricity produced at the CSA flows onto your utility grid and you accumulate solar credits to offset both the supply AND delivery portion of your monthly bill.

csa community solar ownership or subscription array

Here’s How Community Solar Works

Members of a CSA use solar credits produced by that array to reduce or eliminate their utility bill. The only requirement to become a member of a Community Solar Array is that you must live within the same utility load zone as the array. Since most utility load zones span counties, towns, and zip codes, our Solar Advisors can help determine which array you would belong to.

Easy, efficient, joyful

The first step is to have one of our Community Solar Advisors assess your home’s annual usage and prepare a proposal for you outlining the number of solar panels you will need.

Our Community Solar Arrays are designed with efficiency and maximum productivity, all of the panels are pointed due south at the optimal angle to soak up the sun’s clean energy!  

Your CSA panels are covered by a 25 year manufacturers warranty and full insurance policy, so once they are electrified you have nothing to worry about!

Nora Woolf Solar Orientation SunCommon

Want to learn more about how Community Solar works?

For information on how community solar works in general, you can visit our Community Solar page by clicking on the button below. There you will find helpful information on how to become a CSA member, how CSAs actually work, and more. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us directly.

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Grandfather Goes with Rooftop Solar in South Burlington, Vermont

Nick Andrews Sees Rooftop Solar as Legacy for his Grandchildren

Nick Andrews believes in being environmentally responsible. His environmental action can be traced back to his participation in early Earth Day events in the late 60s and 70s. Now, with 7 children and 17 grandchildren, Andrews’ sees the importance of solar as a legacy. He had SunCommon install rooftop solar on his South Burlington home in 2016 and since then he has encouraged his neighbors to go solar.

The system we installed in March 2016 was 3.69 kW (that’s 11 panels)!

SunCommon did a really fine job for us. We haven’t paid an electric bill since the month we put the panels on. Period. None. And we still have credit... We have 7 Children, 17 Grandchildren. We want that to be a bit of a legacy. We raised our children to appreciate gardens, open land, and nature. I don’t want to see that all disappear in my lifetime. That was a big reason for putting the panels on. Why not use the sun to electrify your home? You don't lose anything on it.
Nick AndrewsSouth Burlington
Nick Andrews in South Burlington with Grandson

How Does Solar Work?

Now that you are envisioning a beautiful solar array on your home or property, or falling in love with the idea of supporting a community solar project, you may be wondering, how does solar work? The basics of solar are relatively simply. Find out how solar works by clicking below.

Can solar work for you?
Find Out
Where should we send your results?
We have our team of advisors looking at your address to figure out if solar will work for you. Please provide your information below so that we can contact you and give you the results of our solar check.
Submit
Thank you for your submission
Someone will be in touch shortly. If you would like to expedite the process of going solar, and get scheduled for a home visit, please click here to provide additional information about your home.

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SunCommon and the Vermont Foodbank Teamed Up to Fight Food Insecurity

Back in late 2018, we teamed up with the Vermont Foodbank to make an impact in their fight against hunger in our state.

During the months of November and December, we tried a new way of using our business as a force for good: for every solar home visit we scheduled during those two months, we pledged to donate $30 to the Vermont Foodbank – the equivalent of 50 meals. We reached out to our network, we tabled at food co-ops, and we asked our customers to refer their friends. And we helped a whopping 221 households explore solar during those two months!

In other words: we wrote a check to the Vermont Foodbank for $6,630!

SunCommon Employee Carries Food Donation Box

So what does $6,630 really mean?

Vermont Foodbank Veggie Van Go

It means 11,000 meals for our neighbors facing hunger. At more than 13,000 pounds (6.5 tons!) of food, it’s more than enough to feed two 4-person families for an entire year.

It’s enough to fund 2 VeggieVanGo food drops, events that take place all over the state and provide hundreds of families and individuals with fresh food as well as education and outreach.

Or it’s enough to fill over 1,500 backpacks, a Foodbank program that sends eligible Vermont children home from school each week with kid-friendly food from all five food groups. As the Foodbank says on their website,

“Parents described the program as ‘helpful’ and ‘awesome.’ One parent said: ‘Hopefully the BackPack program will follow my son to middle school. [It’s] very helpful when money is tight and the bag of food comes home with him. Thank you for the help.’”

Did you know 1 in 4 people in Vermont face hunger every day? That’s over 150,000. And that’s too many.

It’s both our mission and our responsibility to use our business as a force for good. We chose to use our business to help the Foodbank in their mission to gather and share quality food so that no one in Vermont will go hungry. Like us, the Foodbank is building up our local Vermont communities while tackling an important global issue, and we’re proud to have partnered with them.

BCorp Logo
suncommon logo

How do I go solar?

The process for going solar is simple. It starts with filling out our get started form. You can do so by clicking the get started button. If you want to know more details about the process and the steps involved between signing up and turning on the power, click the button below to find out more.


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Q&A with Powerwall Installer Tae Wills

Our in-house Powerwall expert weighs in on the future of energy storage

As Vermont’s only Tesla certified Powerwall installer, we strongly value the trained professionals making the installs happen. Tae Wills was instrumental in getting our Powerwall program off the ground. From training the teams to informing our designs, Tae helped make it all possible.

Tae has a background in woodworking, specifically in violin building. The precision and attention to detail involved in this craft is evident in his electrical work today. Originally from a small town in Upstate New York, he’s accustomed to the harsh winters of the Northeast and believes in the stabilization of our grid.

This week we caught up with Tae to learn a bit more about his career as an electrician and how he feels about the work he does today.

What drew you to the solar industry?

To be honest, solar for me happened on accident. I couldn’t be more grateful that I am in this industry! I guess sometimes life has a way of putting you where you need to be. I became hooked almost instantly. I learned so much in this trade and have met so many extraordinary people. I couldn’t ask for a better profession.

How many Powerwalls have you installed?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 300, maybe more. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Storage has been very well received in Vermont.

What are the benefits of adding storage to solar?

The benefits are unquestionable. Having solar coupled with storage adds so many capabilities. One of the main features is that solar coupled with storage will keep the solar on in the event of a power outage, prolonging the life of the battery. It still makes me kinda giddy when we do an “off grid” test post-install and see solar powering a home, charging the battery, and the battery isn’t even having to discharge. Literally running your home off of energy from the sun. It seems so futuristic, and it amazes me.

suncommon powerwall installer tae wills

How do you see this benefiting the grid long term?

Storage is already playing a huge part in stabilizing the grid here in Vermont and internationally (i.e. Puerto Rico, Hawaii, South Australia, and a handful of others). My personal feeling is that the current infrastructure is under stress. Storage can assist the need for energy during peak times, preventing “brown outs.” Storage is young but already proving itself beneficial on many fronts. It will only get better with time. I’m looking forward to seeing how far it will go.

Want to learn more about solar and battery back-up?

Give us a call or sign up on our site and we can explain your solar and storage options. You can sign up on our get started form or you can click the get started button. If you want more information on battery back-up and home energy storage solutions, you can find details on our home energy storage page or click the button below to find out more.


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Going Green with Rooftop Solar in Williston, Vermont

Rooftop Solar Helps Susan Coté Reduce Her Carbon Footprint

Susan Coté in Williston didn’t feel good about her carbon footprint. She wanted to be less reliant on fossil fuels and more energy efficient. She found the green solution she was looking for – rooftop solar from SunCommon. She likes that we’re a local, Vermont solar company and that we’re a Certified B Corporation, which means we’re legally committed to using business as a force for good.

Look how psyched she is now that she added a whopping 19.2 kW system (that’s 60 solar panels!) in May 2018!

We went solar to reduce our carbon footprint and become greener. I know SunCommon is a locally founded company and it's a B-Corp so I could trust the ethics of the company. We found that the finances made sense, which we were thrilled about.
Susan Coté

How Does Solar Work?

Now that you are envisioning a beautiful solar array on your home or property, or falling in love with the idea of supporting a community solar project, you may be wondering, how does solar work? The basics of solar are relatively simply. Find out how solar works by clicking below.

Can solar work for you?
Find Out
Where should we send your results?
We have our team of advisors looking at your address to figure out if solar will work for you. Please provide your information below so that we can contact you and give you the results of our solar check.
Submit
Thank you for your submission
Someone will be in touch shortly. If you would like to expedite the process of going solar, and get scheduled for a home visit, please click here to provide additional information about your home.

Continue reading →

SunCommon Unveils New Community Solar Array in Kingston

Monday, March 4, 2019 — OUR NEWEST COMMUNITY SOLAR ARRAY IS ON AND GENERATING POWER IN KINGSTON, NEW YORK

The ribbon has been cut on the newest SunCommon community solar array hosted by the Pointe of Praise Family Life Center in Kingston. The sun was shining brightly for this joyous occasion as about 30 array members, organizations, and local officials celebrated the project’s official energizing alongside SunCommon employees.

This 485.1 kWp community solar array will help power approximately 60 homes in the area with locally generated, clean energy. Anyone who has Central Hudson as their utility provider can join the project by purchasing panels in the communal array. The utility company digitally monitors the array’s energy production and then adds solar credits onto the array members’ utility bills. Because the solar panels are offsite, this is a great solution for people who cannot install solar panels where they live.

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who was present for the ribbon cutting ceremony noted “Folks may not know, but over 50% of the people who live in Kingston are renters. Community solar is a way for renters to lock in and reduce their utility rates over time and do it in a renewable way.”

Pointe of Praise CSA Solar Array
Can solar work for you?
Find Out
Where should we send your results?
We have our team of advisors looking at your address to figure out if solar will work for you. Please provide your information below so that we can contact you and give you the results of our solar check.
Submit
Thank you for your submission
Someone will be in touch shortly. If you would like to expedite the process of going solar, and get scheduled for a home visit, please click here to provide additional information about your home.
Pointe of Praise CSA Solar Array

Reverend Childs, reverend from the Pointe of Praise Family Life Center, also noted increasing access to solar was an important draw to the project for him and the center. “We were very concerned that most low moderate income people were not able to take advantage of solar. If you didn’t have a house, you didn’t have solar, and we felt we wanted to see people who are in apartments, people who are poor and who really need to have this, to be able to have it. So this project was ideal for us.”

Reverend Childs made the project even more impactful by donating solar panels to seniors in the church. He said, “We’ve given about 75% of our solar panels to our seniors. They’re going to be getting solar for free.” This generous donation means the project is broadening access to solar even more. He noted, “We are really grateful for this because it’s going to provide an opportunity for people who would otherwise not be able to do this to have solar.”

Only 35% of the array’s panels are still available for purchase. Folks who are interested in becoming members of the array can get in touch with SunCommon for more information.

Here’s How Community Solar Works

Members of a CSA use solar credits produced by that array to reduce or eliminate their utility bill. The only requirement to become a member of a Community Solar Array is that you must live within the same utility load zone as the array. Since most utility load zones span counties, towns, and zip codes, our Solar Advisors can help determine which array you would belong to.

Ask if joining a CSA is right for you

866-452-7652

Want to learn more about how Community Solar works?

For information on how community solar works in general, you can visit our Community Solar page by clicking on the button below. There you will find helpful information on how to become a CSA member, how CSAs actually work, and more. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us directly.

Continue reading →