Catching the Drift

Catching the DriftCatching the Drift

A t the confluence of the Mill and Quinnipiac Rivers, rising above Fair Haven’s Criscuolo Park and plentiful power lines, stands a 150-foot, 100-kilowatt wind turbine named “Gus(t).”

Gus(t) belongs to the adjacent Phoenix Press, a printer and binder of journals, catalogs and manuals founded by brothers Brian and Kevin Driscoll. Supplying one of the greenest commercial printers in the nation, the turbine is in an ideal location for harnessing air currents coming off the two rivers and the Long Island Sound, and from traffic on the nearby Q Bridge. Gus(t) provides enough energy to run almost half of the entire electrical grid of Phoenix’s block-long brick building and warehouse, including two of the operation’s printing presses.

Before erecting the turbine in February 2010, Phoenix was already way ahead of the curve in terms of corporate responsibility. Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, the Press prints on recycled paper with the industry’s most environmentally-friendly inks. Its propane-fueled forklifts and electric hand-trucks have a relatively light carbon footprint. The aluminum plates in Phoenix’s presses are reused. And the company’s commitment to greenness follows plenty of the staff home. For one example, co-founder Brian drives a hybrid.

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Gus(t) really sets Phoenix apart, though. “We’re going above and beyond what other printers are doing by virtue of having the turbine,” says Kevin Driscoll, Jr., son of co-founder Kevin. Other printers say they’re gust-run, but their energy comes from somewhere far away, with firsthand verification impossible. “A lot of other printers like to claim that they are 100% wind-powered, but only because they’re buying wind-energy credits,” which relies on a network of energy companies to ensure that that actually means something. Phoenix’s renewable energy, on the other hand, is generated about 100 feet away.

The Driscoll brothers never intended to become trailblazers. It was a bid to cut energy costs that led them to research alternatives to conventional power. The building’s age—and the local shorebirds’ penchants for dropping clams onto their roof—ruled out going solar. Settling on wind energy as the most sensible choice put plans for the turbine in motion.

As a result, the brothers have reduced their energy costs by as much as $35,000 annually, and increased revenue by attracting customers seeking sustainable companies to work with.

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Phoenix Press also prides itself on being the quintessential family-run local business. Many of its forty-odd employees are named Driscoll and grew up in Fair Haven, not far from the Press’s location at the south end of James Street. Kevin, Jr., for one, has been working there since high school. “I grew up with this business; for most of my life, I’ve been involved with the printing company,” he says.

When it came to naming the turbine, the Press engaged locals. Back in 2010, the company sponsored a contest among all K-8 classes in New Haven to name the behemoth. Cold Spring School’s Jessica D’Errico came up with “Gus(t).” Runners-up included “Win(d)ston,” “Spinderella” and “Kilowally.”

Gus(t) is a landmark in Fair Haven now. For those who don’t know Criscuolo Park’s name, it’s “that park by the turbine.” Meanwhile, visitors to the Press rarely have trouble finding their destination or confirming that they’re where they want to be. Fair Haven may even be home to twin turbines one day, as one of the Driscolls’ long-term goals is to build a second, which they intentionally left room for when installing Gus(t).

“Spinderella” gets my vote.

Phoenix Press
15 James Street, New Haven (map)
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
(203) 865-5555
www.phoenixpressinc.com

Written by Will Gardner. Photo #1 by Will Gardner; photo #2 by Dan Mims.

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Will Gardner is a writer and instructor who has written for The Portland Mercury, The Stranger and the Dallas Observer. He relocated to New Haven two years ago and has already visited 53 of Connecticut's State Parks, and refuses to move until he sees them all. He also has an unhealthy obsession with the Bee Gees.

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