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Brockton company spurred to go green

Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti is flanked by Sign Design owners Ron and Whitney Ferrigno during a celebration of the company’s new solar-paneled roof (below). Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti is flanked by Sign Design owners Ron and Whitney Ferrigno during a celebration of the company’s new solar-paneled roof (below).
By Meena Ramakrishnan
Globe Correspondent / September 29, 2011

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Three years ago, custom sign and graphics company Sign Design came up with a green initiative to revamp its operations. Last Friday, the Brockton firm unveiled a 12,500-square-foot solar-paneled roof that would enable it to generate 54,000 kilowatts of electricity per hour, or about half the power consumed in the entire building.

That’s enough wattage to energize 400 computers or four homes for a year, said company co-owner Ron Ferrigno.

“The solar panels are really what kicked off the idea of, ‘Let’s have a whole green initiative,’ ’’ he said following the unveiling, attended by Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti and local Chamber of Commerce officials.

Since the roof was installed with the solar panels in May, Ferrigno said, it has spurred several other green changes. Sign Design, located on Liberty Street, became one of the first few companies in the country to use a more environmentally friendly latex ink and energy-efficient roll printer for banners, vehicle wrap graphics, and posters. The latex ink replaces solvent ink, and Ferrigno says the quality is twice as good.

The traditional print processors have also been swapped for two UV (ultra-violet) ink printers, which print in a higher resolution; the new machines eliminate the use of release liners and excess waste that cannot be recycled.

Additionally, all light fixtures in the company’s building have been replaced with high-efficiency lamps and valances, and recycling trash cans sit in every facility. There has also been a push to recycle manufacturing materials the company couldn’t in the past. Those include aluminum, PVC, steel, acrylic, and Lexan; fluorescent tubes, ballasts, transformers, and other electrical parts; and office paper, printer cartridges, packaging materials, and kitchen waste.

“All of this translates into a greener, safer work place with less waste - safer because of the latex ink we use and greener because of the new technology,’’ Ferrigno said.

The total cost to install the solar panels came to about $700,000. Over time, Ferrigno says, the company’s energy-saving measures will translate into reduced overhead costs, which are passed on to customers in savings. This summer, Sign Design said it saved around $4,000 in energy costs - a 53 percent decrease from last year.

Ferrigno co-owns Sign Design with his wife, Whitney. The business began in Brockton in 1988 and moved to 170 Liberty St. in 2003 from previous locations on West Chestnut Street and Mill Street. About 90 percent of its customers are located within a 50-mile radius of the city.

Meena Ramakrishnan can be reached at mramakrishnan@globe.com.