Walking on the Sun: Shoresh Sandal Factory Converts to 100% Solar Power

Shoresh, a maker of beloved local sandals that are de rigueur for post-army hikers, has become the first manufacturing company in the country, and one of the first in the world, to go offline and become totally dependent from its own solar energy. .

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar called the shift to sustainability “pioneering in the fullest sense” when she visited Shoresh’s 8,000 square meter (86,000 square foot) plant in the northern Israel in September.

Company director Yoram Gill, who goes by the name Yoki, told a climate solutions conference on Wednesday that the microgrid model developed at the plant was an example for small and medium-sized businesses to move on. to zero emissions in just three years.

Founded by Gill and his wife Daniella as young backpackers in 1989, the distinctive sandals-in-a-bag company, known internationally as Source, now has annual revenues of NIS 250 million (71.3 million dollars) and employs 300 people at its Tirat Factory Carmel.

According to Gill, the plant consumed one million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. (A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy used when a 1,000-watt device operates for one hour.) The company’s vehicles consumed 30,000 liters (nearly 8,000 gallons) of gasoline per year and 150 tons of waste was sent to landfills every year.

All of this was generating nearly a million kilograms of greenhouse gases, Gill said, and costing the company more than a million shekels ($285,000) a year.

Working with the Heschel Center for Sustainability and the Department of Energy’s Office of the Chief Scientist, who provided half the funding, Shoresh converted to a microgrid model – a small-scale power grid which operates independently.

The company has installed photovoltaic solar panels on all possible surfaces and purchased solar batteries to provide electricity when the sun is not shining.

Yoram ‘Yoki’ Gill, founder and chairman of Shoresh/Source, Israel’s first off-grid company powered entirely by the sun, at an event attended by Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and current and former members of the Knesset, at the factory in Tirat Carmel, northern Israel, September 22, 2022. (Liron Cohen Avivs for Shoresh/Source)

He replaced all company vehicles with electric vehicles and installed solar-powered charging stations.

And he ensured that the waste was sorted at source and that as much as possible was sent for recycling.

Anything that cannot be recycled must be crushed and stored in the hope that the company will obtain permission to install a waste gasification facility on site.

Yoram ‘Yoki’ Gill, founder and chairman of Shoresh/Source sandals, greets Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and dignitaries at the production plant in Tirat Carmel, northern Israel, September 22, 2022. ( Liron Cohen Aviv, for Shoresh/Source)

Gasification is a chemical process in which waste materials are heated in a low oxygen environment to break them down into a gas called syngas. Gill wants to use it to generate electricity during the winter.

The factory also monitors energy consumption to keep it to a minimum.

“Our emissions went from 100 to zero percent, and we saved a lot of money,” Gill said at the conference, which marked the Department of Environmental Protection’s launch of Zero Hour, which , he says, will help companies plan and implement strategies to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Net zero refers to a situation where a country or company reduces its carbon emissions as much as possible and offsets what it emits. This can be done by investing in projects that reduce emissions or sequester (absorb) carbon dioxide from the air and use it in industry or convert it into a form that can be buried for a long time.

Adam Ajzensztejn, director of environment and sustainability at Teva Pharmaceuticals, said his company decided two years ago to put more emphasis on climate action and resilience to climate change.

As part of this, it became the first company in Israel to set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions, Ajzensztejn said. Emissions from its factories and energy suppliers must be reduced by 25% by 2025 and 46% by 2030, compared to a 2019 baseline. Emissions from its supply chain must be reduced 25% by 2030 compared to 2020.

Trucks drive past Teva’s pharmaceutical logistics center in the city of Shoham, Israel, October 16, 2013. (Dan Balilty/AP)

The company has also aligned its reporting on environmental, social and governance issues with the Financial Disclosure Task Force. Led by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and chaired by Michael Bloomberg, it sets out the types of information companies must disclose about their exposure to climate change risks.

“ESG and climate change are no longer on the sidelines,” Ajzensztejn said. “It is a vital activity for the company and it is important to start. You’ll find it’s a lot easier than you think and Zero Hour will help businesses get started.

The Dizengoff Center, awarded a Green Globe in 2015 by Life and Environment, Israel’s umbrella organization for green nonprofits, was represented by co-owner and co-CEO Dan Pilz. The mall, which opened in Tel Aviv in 1977, was Israel’s first mall and is now the most sustainable, according to Pilz.

Dan Pilz, co-owner and co-CEO of the Dizengoff Center shopping mall in Tel Aviv. (Guy Hamoy, for the Dizengoff Center)

The company reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from 7,274 tonnes in 2014 to 2,591 in 2021, and aims to become net zero by 2028, Pilz said. Among the measures it has already taken are replacing all old electrical equipment, switching to natural gas and composting half a ton of organic waste on site every day.

Solar power will allow the mall to reach net zero, he continued, adding that emissions were offset by planting trees – 13,000 so far. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

Reducing emissions saved the Dizengoff Center 1.5 million shekels ($430,000) a year, Pilz said. “It’s not about cuddling the trees. It’s business.

A guide explains how crops can be grown hydroponically (in water, without soil) on the roof of the Dizengoff Center shopping mall in Tel Aviv. (Center Park, Dizengoff Center)

The state’s National Transport Infrastructure Company, known as Netivei Israel in Hebrew, has meanwhile completed the bidding phase for the use of land in and around three highway interchanges for solar panels , according to Adi Gamliel, the company’s director of sustainability and ESG, and chairman of the Forum for Sustainability ESG Directors in Government Companies in Israel.

The first will be built in Gedera, in central Israel, and two others will follow, in Beit Kama in the south and Yagur in the north.

Architect’s impression showing how land in and around a major intersection in Gedera, central Israel, is to be used for solar panels. (Netivei Israel)

Netivei Israel also piloted the embedding of crushed rubber from old tires into the asphalt of two roads in the Hadera region of central Israel. Gamliel said that after a winter and a summer, the rubber-reinforced surface proved to be more elastic and more resistant to extreme temperatures than ordinary asphalt. Repaving would be required at longer intervals, which would help reduce maintenance costs, he added.

In the absence of green road standards in Israel, the company adopted an American standard to build the country’s first accredited green road, Route 77 from Tel Kashish to Ramat Yishai in northern Israel, Gamliel continued.

Gamliel told The Times of Israel he was working with the Environmental Protection Ministry to develop an Israeli standard for green roads.

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