SEATTLE – As the nation’s leading outdoor retailer, REI works to protect the environment and the places its members love to play. Energy use is one of REI’s largest impacts on the climate, and the company has committed to having all of its electricity come from clean renewable sources.
With 26 solar electric systems generating energy and a strong program to invest in energy efficiency, REI now buys 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.
“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.”
REI’s annual RECs purchase has the same greenhouse gas reduction benefits of removing nearly 8,000 cars from the road or switching more than 990,000 incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents.
What’s a REC?
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. In 2013, REI bought 54,959 Green-E certified RECs from a wind farm in western Texas. To learn more, visit REI’s infographic at http://www.rei.com/features/infographics/renewable-energy.html.
REI purchases RECs from San Francisco-based 3Degrees, the nation’s leading 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.
“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 of 3Degrees. “Their leadership builds demand for renewable energy and helps protect the great outdoors today and for future generations.”
Company-wide Energy Strategy
REI is committed to addressing its operational impact, which includes energy reduction. Its energy strategy is composed of increased efficiencies such as lighting retrofit projects, solar generation and renewable energy. Since 2006, REI has purchased some of its electricity from utility-provided green power that meets rigorous procurement criteria.
While the company grew nearly six percent in 2013 over 2012, REI increased its energy consumption by just 0.1 percent and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions 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.
REI annually publishes a stewardship report to provide visibility to its social and environmental efforts. The 2013 report will be available in late April at http://www.rei.com/stewardship/report/.
REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than 5.3 million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 131 stores in 33 states, as well as REI.com and REI.com/outlet. Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual patronage refund. Membership in the co-op also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.