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’re making sure that we’re partnering with responsible companies. We do that by asking important questions. 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 influencing our buying. B Corps are all about balancing purpose and profit.

A peek at our buying process

We buy UV-protective shirts for our solar installers since we don’t want them soaking up as much sun as your panels. Instead of hopping online and searching for the cheapest UV shirt made overseas out of toxic material, we looked for an alternative. And we found it. Our UV shirts are made in North Carolina by Vapor Apparel, a company with a big focus on sustainable manufacturing. That’s the like-minded kind of do-good company that we like to support.

When our solar installers come to your place, you’ll notice that their shirt has the SunCommon logo on it. We’re proud of that cheerful logo and what it represents as building a solar community. Our choice of screen printer is intentional. We asked our questions before choosing one, and we’re happy to work with Select, in Burlington, not too far up the interstate from our Vermont headquarters. Select operates out of a sustainably restored building with rooftop solar. The circle of good continues. And something as basic as buying a T-shirt sets up a system that benefits our customers, our employees, our communities, and the environment.

Heat Wave and Solar Savings
Amber solar installer applying sunscreen
Luke Cady Solar Warehouse Forklift

Our environmental buying ethics

You know when you get a package in the mail and you have to tear through a ton of excess packaging before you can get your hands on your item? This scenario happened with the C clamps for our panels. Here’s the real story from Luke, our 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. It’s making the call that Luke did for more environmental packaging. When another company listens and implements action, B Corp values go farther, doing more good for the planet in this case.

Our commitment to buying local

Take our vehicle maintenance. We’ve stuck with our local shop, CARS, from our early days with a handful of cars to our current 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 business. We know that 70 cars is a lot of business for a small town. 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 our partnership.

We recently partnered with LG, as our primary solar panel supplier, and they offer American-made panels! We’re excited! We’re conscientious about shopping local whenever we can.

SunCommon Prius Hybrid Cars Line Up
Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Solar Installation Company SunCommon

Our values-driven buying habits expand to Hudson Valley

When we merged with Hudson Valley Solar in Rhinebeck (New York) this past year, our hiring managers told us that being a B Corp was a big draw for employees. Good people want to work for B Corps. We’ve witnessed the same attraction in our Vermont solar office.

We’ve been guiding our Hudson Valley team through the B Corp buying process. It’s an intensive process. It takes forethought and commitment. But we believe that working with amazing do-good companies, and sharing their products with our customers and employees, is well worth the effort.

Learn more about B Corp and why we became one by checking out this post: Why We’re a Values-Led B Corp.

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