In 2001, Klein was looking to move to new location and purchased the Rolladium roller skating rink where he had skated as kid. “It was a 17,000 square foot building just off Highway 101. I loved the maple wood floors. It also had a huge domed roof and liked the openness that it would provide. “Many people thought I was crazy moving into an old roller rink but sometimes you have to take a risk. I paid 2.9 million dollars for the property. I then put about 2.3 million dollars in improvements from a new electrical systems to seismic upgrades to adding a huge air conditioning system,” said Klein
“In addition, ATT was looking for a company to be the fiber optic hub for the neighborhood and we jumped at the chance. That allowed to us to have incredible online speed which was unheard of at the time. It’s a massive system. Today we are running about 40 MB per sec! It’s another key to our success,” said Roach.
They also purchased a back up power system that runs about 80 percent of their power if the power goes out. All their files are backed up to a 15 terabyte RAID as well as an offsite facility every night.
BarkerBlue is trying to change the face of traditional blueprinting, by leading the way with their use of digital online ReproMAX DFS and PDM platform systems, the product of a partnership between ReproMAX, McGraw Hill Construction, and Adenium Systems.
“We are enabling owners, builders and architects to share and utilize information digitally as much as possible with industry-leading tools only available at BarkerBlue. We realize, however, that sometimes they must print out paper documents and we want to ensure that when they do, we’re doing as much as we can to minimize the impact on the environment. To that note, we are using recycled paper for all the construction plans and small documents. 30 percent recycled bond all the time. And the best news, there’s no additional charge for this environmental benefit,” said Roach.
Other sustainable moves the shop has made include banning paper plates and cups from the kitchen in favor of permanent flatware, low-flow toilets, fluorescent lighting which was instituted by the company’s project coordinator, Echo Wodarczyk. But the biggest move was when they went to solar power last year. The idea to go solar was presented to Klein two years ago by Roach. “I was a little skeptical at first, but I trusted John’s judgment.”
BarkerBlue’s $1.5 million solar array was completed late last year. The 155 kilowatt AC rated solar array, consisting of 856 Sanyo 200HIT Hybrid solar modules, covers the entire building.
Roach worked closely with a team at Sunlight Electric, the San Francisco-based solar design and retail company that installed BarkerBlue’s $1.5 million system. Rob Erlichman, the chief executive of the 6-year-old solar company, said Klein and Roach presented the “desire to make smart business decisions and an open-mindedness to looking for creative solutions” that Sunlight Electric looks for in a client. The 1949 building didn’t hurt, either.
“The historic building presented both challenges and opportunities,” Erlichman said. “The challenge, however, was introducing 21st-century technology to a 20th-century structure. Sunlight Electric met this obstacle by installing nearly half a mile of structural reinforcement wood to make sure the equipment wouldn’t pull out of the roof,” Erlichman said.
The resulting 155-kilowatt solar power system began generating power by mid-December, meets approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of the company’s power needs, saving them “easily” $65,000 annually in operating costs, Roach said.
“The panels create enough energy to power 22 homes, and they keep 270,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air each year, according to the company, which displays live feeds of the system’s energy production 24 hours a day on our website, www.BarkerGreen.com,” added Roach.
And when the building uses less power on holidays and weekends, the excess energy generated by the solar panels is fed back into the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. grid, supplying clean energy to the surrounding neighborhood. Roach said he hopes BarkerBlue’s highly visible solar efforts will inspire similar actions in others.
The hill-like roof, a new a new landmark for Silicon Valley commuters on Highway 101, is a testament to modernity, covered almost completely by solar panels, which helped the company win its first sustainability award earlier this year. BarkerBlue was presented with the San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce Green Business Award. A week later, the company was certified as a green business by the Bay Area Green Business Program.