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Natural savings:Businesses get a look at solar power, bio-products
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Fred Weil, left, with Image Group of Georgia, talks with Randy Sheppard of Merial Select, about the bio-based products made at Image Group during a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce event on Friday. The cup Sheppard is holding is an example of the company’s bio-based products. - photo by Tom Reed

When it comes to going green, many business owners may be at a loss of where to start, but on Friday, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce helped point them in the right direction.

During the group’s sixth annual Regional and Environmental and Safety Assembly, Justin Kemp of Queen Capital Group LLC was one of many who gave attendees advice on finding that starting place.

"The first step is to do a complete audit of your business," he said. "You want to take a look at energy efficiency and how many kilowatts of energy you are using. (With solar energy, you) also want to see if you have a good area with southern exposure, or good direct sunlight.

"The goal of the audit is to see what would work best for you and make the most common sense for your bottom line."

Queen Capital group specializes in helping clients reduce energy costs by using alternate sources like solar energy.

Using solar power during peak industry hours can save companies money on power bills by reducing the amount of billable electricity usage, Kemp said.

"One of the benefits of being a green business (is) that the process can reduce operating costs," Kemp said. "It can be a little costly on the front end, but in the long run it can help save you money."

And saving money isn’t the only benefit. Solar energy also benefits the environment.

"Generating solar energy means less consumption of fossil fuels and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," Kemp said.

Another environmentally friendly vendor at the event was Image Group of Georgia.

"All of our products are bio-based, meaning they are made from biological materials like corn and soy," said Fred Weil, president of the Dahlonega company. "We have everything from pens to counter tops."

Unlike traditional plastics, Weil’s products begin to biodegrade in a much shorter time period.

"We have mugs that are made 100 percent from corn materials. Instead of taking 500 years to break down (like traditional plastic), if you happen to throw this in a ditch somewhere, it’ll start to (decompose) in around 18 months," Weil said.

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