Freedman Seating Company, 4545 W. Augusta Blvd., announced plans, Nov. 3, to launch a new solar “Green Initiative” project at their facility.

The company, which produces seating for area buses, trains and other vehicles, has expanded on its ongoing conservation efforts that began three years ago when it installed retrofit light bulbs.

Among the changes the firm has made as part of its latest energy conservation effort: It has installed solar panels across the roof to decrease the amount of electricity used, sensor lighting to avoid wasting power unnecessarily, power factor correction to decrease inefficient power usage, and recycling many of its unused office supplies, including paper, steel and bottles.

The Freedman Company began considering the solar initiative in the spring of 2010, realizing that it wanted to expand its energy conservation efforts within the facility.

There was initial hesitancy from Freedman management, however, because to fully implement the program could cost the firm upwards of $200,000.

Nevertheless, the firm, working with business partners InBalance and Op2Mize, the company was able to contract the plan at an affordable rate.

“We were fortunate enough to have contractors willing to work with us. We also were offered rebates through the energy company to aid with the costs, and [37th Ward Alderman Emma] Mitts helped us obtain the necessary permits to make the initiative happen,” said Freedman Executive Assistant Elena Sullivan.

“It truly has been a collaborative effort.”

Although the initiative is not expected to yield a significant economic impact on the company, the projected annual energy savings, according to Freedman Seating Company, will be the equivalent of the removal of emissions from 61 passenger vehicles.

But Freedman Company says it isn’t finished on this front.

“We’re looking for ways to further the effort,” said Sullivan.

“Our ultimate goal is to become a zero waste to landfill company,” said Sullivan.

Freedman Seating Company, in operation for 119 years, has been located in the 37th Ward since 1999. It is a family-owned establishment that currently employs 550 workers, most of whom reside in the Chicago area.