Green Colorado 2014: Communication/technology




Strategic graphic and Web communications


It’s no wonder that in addition to its award-winning work with nonprofit, educational and civic organizations, CEO Bob Morehouse says he is most proud that his team is determined to make a positive impact in the world.

To start, its 6,000-square-foot building is wind powered. Every event is zero-waste, and employees are encouraged to find alternative transportation to work. And through working with Eco-Cycle, Vermilion was able to get the company close to 90 percent zero waste.

The communications crew stands behind the City of Boulder’s goal to be fossil-free by 2050. “We want everyone in Boulder to be excited by this,” Morehouse says. Working hard to not only talk the talk, Vermilion has done its best to make its early 1980s facility more sustainable, from tinting windows to adding low-flow toilets.

“The bottom line is this is one of our central values,” Morehouse says, mentioning the team’s ongoing work with natural food companies and other “green” businesses. “We want to influence human behavior in a positive way. We want to be good citizens of the world.”



Software test lab


When the software lab relocated in 2012, the criteria for a new space was clear: “We wanted a LEED certified building,” says CEO Pete Dignan of the facility that tests apps and websites for functionality, security and accessibility. And so the office is now in a LEED- and Energy Star-certified building. Inside the environmentally friendly walls, a community-wide recycling program is enforced.

Eco Passes are provided to employees, who are encouraged to work remotely when or if practical, to reduce CO2 emissions. “It’s an additional draw that helps us stay competitive,” Dignan said.


Spirae Inc.

Distributed energy integration

Fort Collins

The 27-person Fort Collins-based company, started in 2002, specializes in the integration of scalable smart-grid solutions and distributed energy resources, the development of local and wide area controls, energy service platforms and power system simulations to customers around the globe.

Spirae uses active distribution management techniques to protect the grid from extreme highs and lows. “If you’re using solar energy and the sun doesn’t shine for days, we manage resources so there aren’t brownouts or blackouts,” Julie Zinn, Spirae’s COO said. “You’re immediately ready to ramp up with backup when the solar is ramping down.”

Spirae uses pioneering active distribution management techniques to integrate high levels of renewable and distributed energy while maintaining and improving reliable grid operations. The company’s technology was part of a microgrid pilot in Denmark, along with NRG Energy, Rocky Mountain Institute and Sungevity, that proved more reliable and cost efficient than centralized grids. Microgrids have the potential to make the electricity grid significantly more cost effective and reliable.

          In addition to its deployment services, Spirae offers grid-scenario simulation services through its InteGrid Test and Deployment Laboratory, one of the largest and most cutting-edge simulation labs in the world. The collaborative testing facility is co-owned with Colorado State University.


Sterling-Rice Group

Branding firm


SRG focuses on sustainability by participating in the City of Boulder’s 10 for Change Challenge, which encourages businesses to reduce energy use and implement programs and policies that show actionable investment in benefitting the planet. The company implemented a zero-waste program and enrolled in RTD’s Corporate Eco Pass program to encourage the use of public transportation.

Companies that don’t see themselves as part of a bigger ecosystem won’t be around for long, Buddy Ketchner, president of SRG contends, suggesting that customers have begun to look for companies that understand their responsibility to the world around them.

“Everything we do is interconnected,” he said.