Late last year, the California Public Utilities Commission set an ambitious goal for all new commercial buildings to be zero net energy (ZNE) by 2030. Fortunately, advances in technology have made the transition to ZNE both eco-friendly and profitable.

Keeping with their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and advanced manufacturing, the City of Fremont gladly embraced this challenge and became home to Silicon Valley’s first retrofitted ZNE manufacturing facility. During the second half of 2017, Fremont-based Sonic Manufacturing, one of the largest electronic manufacturing factories in the Bay Area, received sustainable modifications designed and built by Mynt Systems. Their experience serves as a prime example of how manufacturing can be clean and going green can be profitable.

Without interrupting Sonic’s manufacturing operations, Mynt Systems organized and executed the three-phased solar energy and efficiency remodel for the 85,000 square foot manufacturing facility owned by Sharp Development. After the third phase was completed in December 2017, the retrofitted facility sported new HVAC equipment, LED lighting, window film, a TPO Cool Roof, and 1,030 kW of solar on the roof and carports. The investment for these upgrades totaled $3.5 million with simple payback possible in just under five years.


Aerial photo of rooftop solar panels on the Sonic Mfg. ZNE facility in Fremont.


While Sonic Manufacturing and Sharp Development’s eagerness to reduce their carbon footprint is one intriguing element of this project, ZNE retrofitting offers an additional assortment of economic benefits to building owners and tenants alike. Most notably, Sharp Development is now eligible to receive a $1.1 million tax credit, $6 million of added value to the property, and $12.2 million in accumulated savings over 25 years. Sonic Manufacturing, the building’s tenant, will also benefit from the retrofitting, saving $421,000 annually in utility costs and gaining an improved working environment. Additionally, these energy savings are equivalent to taking 95 million gallons of gasoline off the road. We like to refer to these successes as “triple bottom line” results, as they positively impact the planet, profit, and people involved.


Aerial photo of rooftop and carport solar panels on the Sonic Mfg. ZNE facility in Fremont.


Intrigued by the multitude of positive effects stemming from this project, IndustryWeek’s Senior Editor Adrienne Selko penned an article recognizing Mynt Systems, Sonic Manufacturing, Sharp Development, and the City of Fremont as leaders in the ZNE movement.

Adrienne commends Mynt Systems’ replicable model that reduces energy usage while simultaneously benefiting the building’s tenant and owner. By working in conjunction with both parties, the model gives building owners the opportunity to convert their facilities to ZNE without disrupting tenants’ manufacturing productivity.

The Fremont Economic Development team played an important role in this initiative. Setting the pace for the green revolution, the City of Fremont provided fast-track permitting throughout this process. Usually, obtaining permits for remodels of this scale could take anywhere from six month to two years. However, Fremont’s process made the phased remodel possible to complete in a timely manner so that Sonic Manufacturing and Sharp Development could capitalize on the economic benefits as soon as possible.

For a comprehensive outline of these triple bottom line results for all parties involved, take a look at the following infographic that details the benefits of this 100 percent clean-powered manufacturing facility.