Despite its goal to become carbon-neutral by 2020, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative, has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent in 2008, according to its third annual stewardship report. Yet, the company is on track to meet its zero-waste-to landfill by 2020 with a waste recycling rate of 84.8 percent.
In 2008, REI’s greenhouse gas footprint grew by 11 percent (from 104,000 tons in 2007 to 115,000 tons in 2008), primarily due to growth of the co-op, which included opening nine stores, according to the report.
A significant impact in 2008 was the first full year of operation for the Bedford, Pa., distribution center, which added 525,000 square feet (over 13 percent) to its overall building footprint, which also contributed to the increase in its total energy usage.
To help meet its climate neutral goal, REI equipped 11 stores with solar panels, generating 1.1 million kWh per year of clean energy. In 2008, REI’s green power electricity contracts with local utilities and its self-generated energy through solar power provided 24 percent of our retail stores’ electricity needs, according to the report.
In addition, REI Adventures is one of the largest climate-neutral travel businesses in the country through the purchase of certified offsets, said the company. The carbon offsets purchased in 2008 were equivalent to reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of REI by 37,759 tons of CO2.
Other environmental highlights in the report cover recycling, sustainable paper purchasing, and green building designs.
In 2008, REI recycled 84.8 percent of its operational waste generated including cardboard, wooden pallets, cans and bottles. The company purchased 85.1 percent of all paper from acceptable sources including 25.6 percent certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The company is also focused on green buildings. REI’s Boulder, Colo., store earned LEED Gold certification and its new Bedford, Pa., distribution center received LEED Silver certification. A second green building prototype store in Round Rock, Texas, features solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, water conservation and low-impact building materials.
In addition, more than 250 REI-brand products have earned its ecoSensitive label that consists of a high percentage of recycled, rapidly renewable and/or organic fibers.