REI is on track to powering all of its stores and distribution centers by renewable energy, through a combination of renewable energy projects and certified renewable energy certificates (RECs).
With 26 solar electric systems generating energy and a strong program to invest in energy efficiency, REI now buys RECs as part of its energy strategy that powers more than 130 stores, two distribution centers and its headquarters.
While the company grew nearly six percent in 2013, REI says it increased its energy consumption by just 0.1 percent and reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 39.5 percent.
Prior to the REC purchase, REI was listed on US EPA Green Power Partnership’s “Top 30 Retail,” representing the country’s largest green power retail users. The EPA’s list will be updated in late April, and REI will be named a “100 percent green power” user.
In 2013, REI bought 54,959 Green-E certified RECs from a wind farm in western Texas. When electricity is produced from a renewable energy generator, like a wind turbine, there are two products–electricity and RECs. A REC is created for each megawatt-hour of renewable energy delivered to the power grid. It represents the environmental benefits associated with the generation of renewable energy.
REI purchases RECs from San Francisco-based 3Degrees, a provider of renewable energy marketing services, RECs and carbon offsets. 3Degrees supplies green power products directly to hundreds of businesses and manages utility green pricing programs with more than 170,000 participating customers. Demand created by 3Degrees and its partners supports hundreds of renewable energy projects that range from large-scale wind farms to innovative independent energy makers.
“It’s our responsibility to protect the natural places our customers and employees enjoy,” said Kirk Myers, corporate social responsibility manager at REI. “We intend to generate enough local renewable energy for our total electricity needs, but until then, RECs will be an important part of our energy strategy.”
In other 100-percent-renewables news, Interface announced in December that as of January 1, its manufacturing plant in Scherpenzeel, The Netherlands, would be powered by 100 percent biogas produced using certified 'green' waste from the food industry; and last month, SAP announced that it will power all of its data centers and facilities globally with 100 percent renewable electricity starting this year. The shift will help minimize the company’s carbon footprint as it moves to a cloud business model, and will help eliminate carbon emissions caused by its customers’ systems by moving them into a green cloud.