Managing Our Energy Use
Here are a few of the ways we're managing our energy use and increasing our efficiency:
We have 26 REI locations equipped with solar technology. We first installed solar panels on 11 REI stores in 2008 and increased our investment to 12 additional stores and our distribution center in Bedford, Penn. in 2011. With solar rooftop panels in place, a store can generate 10-100% of its own electricity. This investment makes great sense for REI because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces operating costs and mitigates our exposure to the volatile energy markets.
We continue our commitment to green power by purchasing energy generated from renewable resources such as wind and solar wherever possible.
There are two conditions that govern our choice of green power sources:
1. The source must be new renewable energy generation qualifying under the most recent Green-e certification requirements.
2. The product must offer a financial hedge against future energy price escalation, particularly risks associated with fossil fuel costs.
When we are unable to source direct contracts, we are committed to buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) or pursuing alternative energy investments to get the co-op to 100 percent renewable energy.
Data Center Retrofit
REI’s data center houses servers and backup systems for computers, software systems, REI.com and point of sale for more than 130 stores. Completed in 2013, our retrofit added “free cooling” via a rooftop evaporative cooling tower that keeps our servers at optimal temperatures. We also have improved efficiencies that increase business resiliency and stability in the event of a regional power outage.
Overall, the retrofit has resulted in a 93 percent reduction in the cooling energy used to operate the facility. This saves enough to power six REI stores – 2.2 million kilowatt hours each year.
We eliminated incandescent bulbs from our retail stores and replaced them with more efficient and longer-lasting lights. Most of our stores are built with skylights that offer natural illumination. Occupancy sensors and a centralized energy management system also help minimize the amount of time each day that our lights are in use.
Heating & Cooling (HVAC)
We're in the process of retrofitting the HVAC system in our stores and are on track to eliminate units that use Freon (R22), a substance harmful to the ozone, by 2020. We are replacing outdated units with safer, more efficient equipment. The new HVAC units are all connected to a sophisticated energy management system that optimizes their use.
These energy-smart HVAC investments offer another advantage: They improve the comfort and indoor air quality of our stores.