To grab the attention of customers and employees, walk the walk

Okay, no one would be surprised to see a solar panel awning fastened to the façade of the Full Spectrum Solar office building on East Washington Avenue. After all, the Madison-based contractor specializes in designing and installing solar energy systems for homes and businesses. But when Director Burke O’Neal explains that the unimposing awning produces more than enough electricity to power the company car – a hybrid Chevy Volt – it requires a second glance.

In fact, the Full Spectrum Solar office reveals a lot about the company and its core values in renewable energy. The skilled and creative work of the engineers and mechanics is visible everywhere – from the solar rooftop to the repurposed vintage radiators to the exposed boiler and copper pipes that create a modern focal point in the conference room. The parking lot is framed with native prairie rain gardens and planters to catch storm water runoff, and natural light pours into the open office through heat-efficient windows.

“We wanted to make our building a real showcase for what’s possible in renewable energy and sustainability,” says O’Neal. When building out the space in 2010, Full Spectrum Solar took it as a collective challenge to “walk the walk” by creating a low-energy yet high-comfort work environment. As a result, Full Spectrum Solar’s office, fleet, and sustainable business practices have caught the attention of customers and employees alike, giving the contractor a distinct competitive advantage.

“Our customers appreciate that our core values are aligned with theirs,” says O’Neal. He says that it strengthens the connection and level of trust with customers. It also has helped to secure competitive contracts for progressive customers who take into account factors like employee wellness and social responsibility in the evaluation process. As for employees, O’Neal says that there’s a great sense of employee pride and ownership with respect to the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Full Spectrum Solar is in a growing segment of businesses that recognize the unparalleled benefits of embodying their core values inside and out. By practicing what they pitch, businesses can heighten their credibility and resonate more strongly with potential customers and employees.


It seems obvious; you wouldn’t visit a toothless dentist or a bankrupt accountant, right? Simply put, companies should act in line with their core values. Pragmatically put, it’s work. Even for the most well-intentioned business, transforming a corporate value statement into real and permanent action across the organization requires planning, effort, and accountability. And this is where many organizations get stuck.

Here at Sustain Dane, we work directly with schools and businesses like Full Spectrum Solar through our MPower Champions Program, giving them the resources and a little nudge to take action on their core values of sustainability and energy stewardship. Through this effort, we realized that internally, we can and should do more to drive our own core values forward.

Therefore, as we assist 19 leading Madison-area businesses this year in implementing sustainability projects, we have committed to “walk the walk” by putting our name on the list as an MPower Business Champion. This means that, in addition to facilitating the program for outside businesses, the Sustain Dane team will also be looking closely at our own energy consumption, employee wellness, and more. Throughout 2013 and beyond, we’ll use the MPower program’s proven framework to discover new, more efficient ways to practice our values and carry out our mission of improving the Madison region through sustainability and resilience.

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