For nearly a quarter century, Steve Sullivan’s Acme Bread has been baking nationally acclaimed artisan breads. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Acme works closely with farmers each year in selecting its organic grains. Working in three shifts around the clock, their bakers turn out 7,500 sourdough loaves by hand every day to meet ravenous customer demand.

Apparently not content to simply make the best bread possible, Sullivan has set a new standard for the baking industry and indeed all industry — to change its energy policy by getting off the electrical grid. Last year Sullivan acquired a 4,400 square foot building adjoining its Berkeley headquarters and is retrofitting it with solar panels at a cost of $425,000.

“Whether it pays for itself in three years or 10 years, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’re fortunate to be in a position not to worry about that.”

Sullivan is also exploring ways to re-direct heat from the ovens to offices and to the proofing areas where the bread rises before baking. He also plans to convert his 18 delivery trucks to biofuel over the next 8 years and possibly manufacturing his own biofuels.

“It seems irresponsible not to take any steps that are practical to bring your company in line with what makes sense,” he said. “When there are (sustainable) choices to be made, then whenever it’s feasible, we make them.”

How cool is that?

The Coolest Bakery on the Planet