Geoff & Michelle Greenfield - Third Sun Solar - Athens


When the Greenfields moved to Southeast Ohio, from Oregon, their first home had no electricity.  

Geoff says their rural home provided "the excuse we needed" to install a solar system in their home.  

Their neighbors were interested in solar, so Geoff began moonlighting in solar in addition to working full-time in affordable housing.  


At the same time, Michelle was working in small business development in Athens County.

They both quit their jobs, synthesized their skills, and started Third Sun to meet a growing demand for alternative energy.

Today, they have 34 employees and have paid out $10 million in salaries since forming in the year 2000.

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Geoff shows off the company's core values.  Short- and long-term decisions at Third Sun are driven by these values.

Corporations traditionally view their primary role as maximizing shareholder returns for their investors.  But Third Sun is organized as a "B-Corporation."  This emerging business practice takes a more holistic approach to commerce by taking into account the community, the environment, suppliers, customers, and shareholders all as important components of the corporate decision-making process.


Edison's quote greets customers and employees at the front of the warehouse.

Growing a solar business in Athens County is a paradigm shift from the days of coal and other extractive industries.  Now most of Third Sun's business is generated in the cities in Ohio, which means money is being imported into Athens, instead of being extracted from the local economy.  The Greenfields say they feel successful when they see an employee come to work in a new reliable car or purchase their own home instead of renting.  


In the earlier days of solar, panels were ordered from a catalog, as evidenced in Geoff's book collection.


One goal is to install enough solar panels by 2030 to put one coal-fired plant out of business.  This chart reflects their progress.