REI Commits to Sustainable, Renewable Energy

(3BL Media/Just Means) - REI, the outdoor retailer, has announced a commitment to sourcing all of its electricity from renewable sources. The company already has 26 solar electric systems generating clean power and a program designed to invest in energy efficiency. Now, REI is buying certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) as part of its strategy to green the energy that powers more than 130 stores, two distribution centers and its headquarters.

REC is a credit unit that equals a megawatt-hour of renewable energy delivered to the power grid. In 2013, REI bought 54,959 Green-E certified RECs from a wind farm in western Texas. Now the company will purchase RECs from San Francisco-based 3Degrees, a leading provider of renewable energy marketing services, RECs, and carbon offsets.

3Degrees supplies green power products directly to businesses and manages utility green pricing programs with more than 170,000 participating customers. Through its client base, 3Degrees supports hundreds of renewable energy projects that range from large-scale wind farms to innovative independent energy makers.

REI’s annual RECs purchase is tantamount in terms of GHG prevention to removing nearly 8,000 cars from the road or switching more than 990,000 incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents. “REI’s commitment to renewable energy makes a strong statement and is a very visible demonstration of environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility that will touch millions of people,” said Steve McDougal, president at 3Degrees. “Their leadership builds demand for renewable energy and helps protect the great outdoors today and for future generations.”

Energy efficiency is part of the package REI has put together to decrease its environmental impact and the results of the strategy are starting to make a difference. While the company grew nearly six percent in 2013 over 2012, its energy consumption grew by just 0.1 percent and its greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 39.5 percent. Prior to the REC purchase, REI was listed on U.S. 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.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the natural places our customers and employees enjoy,” said Kirk Myers, corporate social responsibility manager at REI. “We are encouraged that our overall energy use has been essentially flat in recent years, while we have grown significantly and connected more members and customers to the outdoors. 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.”

The company’s next sustainability report will be available in late April, with more detailed information on its social and environmental efforts.

Image credit: REI