Sundog uses approximately 20,000 gallons of water per day making tie dye t-shirts and we wanted to find a way to make that more eco-friendly. After 25 years of innovation and thinking outside of the box CAS Shiver – the owner and Top Dog at Sundog Productions had a plan.

It’s important to understand the dilemma Sundog was facing: In order to properly rinse the excess dye out of the fabric after curing the shirts, the water needs to be approximately 180 degrees. This water arrives at the factory in Fairfax, Virginia via underground pipes that keep it at a steady 53 degrees. Previously we would heat this water conventionally using natural gas boilers. Now, using geo-thermal exchanges and the process described below, Sundog dramatically reduced it’s carbon footprint:

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Steps to heat the Sundog water:

1. Fresh water arrives at the Sundog Productions factory via the Fairfax water supply at a constant 53 degrees. The first step in heating the water is actually dual purpose; heating the water while cooling the factory. The system is designed that the water flows from the front of the building to the back through a series of smaller tubes and radiators. As the water flows through the building it will absorb ambient heat from the air in the factory, which is considerably hotter than average, due to the screen-printing dryers used to cure the ink used for printing the t-shirts. These dryers are running at approximately 350 degrees. Although this process will not raise the water temperature by much, it begins the process. The more important step is to help lower the air temperature and dehumidify the building without any effect on the environment.

2. This fresh water then travels through coils of stainless steel tubing submerged in a 3000-gallon discharge tank, which has collected the hot used water discharged from our laundry facility. This water is approximately 150-170 degrees. The fresh water contained in the coils is then heated to approximately 90-100 degrees through this process.

3. Our fresh city water has now been pre-heated, and ready for the next phase, which is made possible by the SUN! Sundog installed 600 solar tubes on the roof of our factory to capture the radiant heat of the sun. This energy is used in a collection tank in our building. The fresh water continues its journey through coils of stainless steel tubing installed in the tank absorbing the heat and continuing the heating process. At this point the water is now approximately 120-160 degrees and we haven’t used one BTU of energy to achieve this temperature.

4. The final leg of the journey is through our natural gas burner, which fully heats the water to the necessary 180 degrees and is then held within insulated tanks to preserve the heat until the water is used.

Because Sundog uses this “GREEN” process to heat its water, the company estimates that it avoids CO2 production of about 80 tons a year. Jack Levenson, development director from Amidus, a clean energy company headquartered in Maryland, headed the solar installation. He explained the savings to be equivalent to “an annual planting of over 20 acres of forest or over 300 cars being taken off the road.” The new facility saves 3.75 million British thermal units (Btu’s) per day by focusing on GREEN and sustainable solutions. This will “reduce our carbon footprint through the use of geothermal and solar energy systems and eco-friendly dyes,” – CAS Shiver, Owner & Top Dog.