SportHill goes green

SportHill has taken green to the extreme, and it's not as the hottest color in its latest apparel line. The athletic apparel company has invested in three energy-saving technologies for its office and warehouse in Eugene, Ore.
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SportHill has taken green to the extreme, and it's not as the hottest color in its latest apparel line. The athletic apparel company has invested in three energy-saving technologies for its office and warehouse in Eugene, Ore.

Jim Hill, president and founder of SportHill, has maximized his company's energy efficiency by converting to a new lighting system, installing a geothermal heating and cooling system, and signing a business partner agreement with the Eugene Water and Electric Board to purchase wind-driven energy.

"I'd been looking at geothermal for about 10 years and then our building was due for a new system. I took the plunge and there were some good state and federal tax credits and local help," said Hill.

The new geothermal heating and cooling system uses the ground's latent temperature to heat and cool the company's buildings. While some air systems have 80 percent to 90 percent efficiency, the geothermal system has 400 percent. "For every one BTU of energy you put in to run the system, you get four BTUs of heating or cooling back," Hill said.

In addition to the geothermal system, SportHill converted its T-12 lighting system to T-8 fluorescent lights, reducing energy consumption by 30 percent. With the new fluorescents and lamp location changes, the new system eliminated one-third of the company's light fixtures while retaining the same light output as the old system. "Primarily, we get a better light and we're using a lot less energy," Hill said.

SportHill didn't stop there and signed up with the local utility's windpower program.

"We pay a little bit extra to contribute to the windpower efforts that EWEB is doing," he said, but "there's virtually no pollution going out of this building now. Everything EWEB buys is either windpowered or hydroelectric, so we're producing zero amount of emissions."

SportHill's total investment was $70,000, before tax credits and incentives. "There are some excellent state, local and federal incentives for the systems," he said. Future savings Hill anticipates is a reduction in his heating and cooling bill, formerly $3,200 a year, which will go down to $500 with the new system.

"I don't understand why everyone doesn't do this. You (invest) more money upfront, but in the long term you're using a lot less energy," Hill said. "In the long run, it pays for itself and it's a win-win all the way around."

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