American Renewable Energy Company Aids Green Growth in West Java

Earlier this year, CI’s Anton Ario blogged about our Green Wall project in Indonesia supported by Daikin Industries, which seeks to reforest degraded areas and bring electricity and piped water to rural communities in West Java. This project recently received some enthusiastic volunteers from halfway across the globe.    

Viridian staff replaces water pipes in West Java, Indonesia

A team of volunteers from Viridian, an American renewable energy company, tour the national park to become familiar with the area where they will be conducting sustainability projects in West Java, Indonesia. (© Joe Epstein/JoeEpsteinPhotography.com)

When top sales executives surpass targets set by their company, they are often rewarded with prizes like cash bonuses or trips to luxury resorts. But things are different at Viridian.

This American renewable energy company has a unique way of rewarding its top salespeople. Viridian recently sent 35 staff members to West Java, Indonesia — not only giving them the trip of a lifetime, but also helping to benefit local people.

The area in and around Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park isn’t just home to gibbons and rare birds; the forest-covered volcanoes and rushing rivers are also the site of 500 rural communities.

Viridian staff meet with villagers, West Java

Viridian associates install solar panels and teach residents of a local village to use a solar power system as one of their sustainability projects in Indonesia. (© Joe Epstein/JoeEpsteinPhotography.com)

Most local people are farmers who work in rice fields and vegetable gardens. They are highly dependent on nature’s benefits. In addition, the region includes the watershed that provides the more than 10 million people residing in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, with their primary source of fresh water.

With support from the CI-Indonesia team, Viridian’s visiting staff took part in various activities as part of the restoration of the national park.

Viridian staff installs solar panel

A Viridian staff member installs a solar panel. (© Joe Epstein/JoeEpsteinPhotography.com)

Following a kick-off ceremony at the Bodogol Center for Conservation Education, the participants were divided into teams participating in four main activities: planting 1,000 native tree seedlings, installing solar panels within the park, improving water facilities and leading an environmental education presentation at a nearby elementary school. On the second day, the participants would be regrouped, so that all of them would experience different activities at different sites.

Wearing yellow T-shirts bearing the tagline “7 Continents in 7 Years” and the logos of CI and Goal Zero (another partner of Viridian), the participants were very enthusiastic about taking part in the restoration activities. One female participant in the tree planting group took a picture of and kissed each seedling she planted.

Viridian Senior Vice President Meredith Berkich said that Indonesia is the third country the company has visited, after Brazil and Ghana.

“This is the third year of our ‘7 Continents in 7 Years’ program,” she said. “Like its name, we plan to contribute to the improvement of local communities and their environment in seven continents within seven years, and let our employees see firsthand how valuable the provision of power and fresh water can be for communities.

Indonesian man and water pipe

A local man tests out the new water pipes installed by Viridian volunteers. (© Joe Epstein/JoeEpsteinPhotography.com)

Down the valley in the Bodogol area, A group of about 10 people — made up of local community members and Viridian staff, including CEO Michael Fallquist — were hard at work replacing two kilometers of old water pipes. The new water pipes will benefit at least 100 families in Bodogol.

Meanwhile, over at the Babakan Kencana Elementary School, it was not business as usual; three Viridian staff were the special guest teachers that day. They began the class with songs and dance, followed by interactive sessions on what will happen to threatened species if deforestation continues to happen. After a drawing session, the entertaining class was topped off with the screening of a movie entitled “Turtle World.”

environmental education in Indonesia

Viridian volunteers teach an environmental education lesson to Indonesian schoolchildren. (© CI/photo by Primatmojo Djanoe)

As part of our effort to inform young Indonesians about the value of the forests where they live, CI-Indonesia and the Javan Gibbon Foundation will continue to implement this environment education class as part of the school activities for at least six months.

After three days, the Viridian employees returned home to the U.S., but their lasting impact was evident in the newly installed solar panels and water pipes that remained. These enthusiastic visitors had shown that one of the best ways to honor your own hard work is by giving back to those in need. I hope other companies are taking notice.

Linda Chalid is the terrestrial communications coordinator for CI-Indonesia.

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