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Energy Efficiency and Renewables

With a large portfolio of facilities and vehicles, Staples recognizes the significance of the energy usage and carbon emissions impacts of its operations. Reducing these impacts has been a cornerstone of our sustainability initiative for many years. Staples’ energy management program is comprehensive, focusing on technological, behavioral and process-based solutions across our buildings and fleet. We leverage energy efficiency programs as well as incorporating renewable energy into our portfolio — all with the aim of reducing energy use and carbon emissions. We have several global and U.S. based goals to move the business forward in this area.

In the U.S and Canada, Staples’ buildings operate in compliance with the building codes relevant to the states and provinces where we operate. As the various regions continue to adopt model building energy codes with rising energy efficiency standards, so too does Staples. However, as covered in the content below, Staples also goes above and beyond to implement voluntary energy efficiency measures to protect the environment and drive cost savings. In Europe, Staples is subject to the European Energy Efficiency Directive in several countries where we operate. In these markets, we fulfill reporting requirements to local authorities, audit our facilities and work towards stated energy efficiency objectives. In the UK, Staples also participates in the Carbon Reduction Commitment

Driving efficiency through the ENERGY STAR® program

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Staples has partnered with ENERGY STAR since 1999. A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, the ENERGY STAR program helps companies like Staples save money while protecting the environment through the use of energy-efficient practices and products.

Through aggressive goal setting; participation in the ENERGY STAR Battle of the Buildings and other initiatives, Staples is leading the charge for more sustainable and energy-efficient buildings.

By the end of 2015, we had 527 active U.S. buildings that are ENERGY STAR verified. This number represents 38% of buildings that were open and active at the end of the year, a 5 percentage point increase over 2014. We have adjusted this calculation in 2015 and for the previous two years to more accurately include buildings that are open and eligible for certification and exclude any buildings that were previously certified but are now closed (which is 100 total locations as of the end of FY15).

Staples has received the honor of being recognized as ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for seven consecutive years, and for the fourth year received the prestigious award of Sustained Excellence by the EPA, honoring our commitment to energy reduction for a better planet.

Vision

Achieve zero carbon emissions in our operations and help customers pursue the same goal.

Focus Areas

Energy efficiency and effectiveness of facilities, fleet and logistics.

Long-Term Goals

  • Achieve ENERGY STAR® building certification for 50% of our U.S. facilities by 2020.
  • Reduce electrical intensity globally by 25% from 2010 through 2020.
  • Reduce total carbon emissions by 50% globally from 2010 through 2020.

In 2015, Staples signed the WRI Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and the American Business Act on Climate Pledge to signal our support for increasing renewable energy and reducing climate impacts.

Energy reduction initiatives for a greener future

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As demonstrated by our ENERGY STAR certified buildings commitment and progress, Staples is focused on reducing energy consumption through our entire organization. Here are some of the measures we’ve taken:

  • Converting lighting to lower wattage and more efficient fixtures, lamps and ballasts
  • Putting in lighting motion sensors for occupancy and daylight harvesting
  • Installing energy management systems for the control of lighting and HVAC
  • Installing variable-speed drives on HVAC equipment, air compressors and conveyors
  • Participating in energy consumption demand response programs

Electrical Intensity

globally (kWh/ft2)

electrical intensity

We also run our energy audit program to identify energy reduction opportunities in our stores and distribution centers, focusing on lighting, battery chargers, conveyors, HVAC and our energy management system.

Through our proven energy efficiency programs, we are demonstrating tangible progress against our goals to improve our energy efficiency. From 2010 to 2015, Staples reduced our global electrical intensity by 7.5% as a result of energy efficiency improvements. Our goal is to reduce the electrical intensity of our global operations by 25% by 2020 from a 2010 baseline. Although we are making progress, this goal will remain a challenge given that we are using more technology within our stores (increasing energy consumption) while also shrinking store size (decreasing square footage).

Using alternative sources of energy

While Staples’ energy reduction efforts are contributing substantially to reducing the company’s carbon footprint, we’re shrinking that footprint even further by producing our own solar power, using fuel cell technology and participating in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.

  • Today, Staples has 30 facilities hosting a total of 33 solar arrays in the U.S., which generated more than 18 million kWh of clean energy in 2015. These sites have produced more than 100 million kWh since program inception. In 2015, Staples purchased 3% of its U.S. electricity needs in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
  • As an early adopter of fuel cell technology, we continue to operate fuel cells at our distribution centers in Ontario, CA, and Rialto, CA — in both cases, the fuel cells are complemented by solar power installations.
  • Staples is ranked as a top U.S. company for installed solar capacity in the “Solar Means Business” 2015 report, including being ranked in the top for retailers.

Improving our transportation network’s environmental performance

Given the multi-faceted nature of our business model – we have retail, online and Advantage customers – Staples’ transport supply chain is similarly complex. After our suppliers deliver the products we sell to our warehouses, Staples then manages the delivery of these goods to our stores (for retail) and our customers (for online and Staples Business Advantage®). We work with third-party trucking and delivery/courier partners, and also own our Staples delivery fleet. In all cases, the transport of products results in consumed fuel, carbon emissions and outbound packaging.

Staples has consistently worked to improve the sustainability of its delivery practices. Initiatives such as electronically limiting the top speed of our U.S. delivery trucks to 60 miles per hour, using idle management technologies to shut off engines after three minutes of idle time, and piloting and using cleaner vehicle technologies like fully electric and natural gas powered trucks in our U.S. fleet have helped Staples to improve our long-term fuel economy trend. Currently, Staples U.S. is using a combination of a fleet of leased trucks and third-party delivery carriers.

Where it is feasible, we are striving to partner with our delivery partners to implement sustainability initiatives in final mile delivery. Part of our work to encourage delivery partners to ship more sustainably is through our participation as a Shipper Partner in the EPA’s SmartWay program, which signals our intent to work with trucking partners committed to reducing the environmental impacts of their fleet.

Staples acknowledges that our nearly 75,000 associates around the globe produce their own energy and emissions impacts as they commute to and from our facilities via car, bus and train, or travel for their jobs. While we have not yet quantified these impacts, we do aim to provide opportunities for associates to reduce these by providing resources for ride-sharing, supporting bike-to-work days and allowing telecommuting. In fact, Staples’ Home Office has been recognized for multiple years for offering and promoting sustainable commuter options by the Excellence in Commuter Options Awards. In several of our northern European countries – the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark – Staples held bike-to-work and carpooling events on Earth Day 2015.

Reducing our carbon emissions

Carbon Emissions (scope 1 & 2)

globally (metric tons CO2-e)

carbon emissions

In early 2015, the GHG Protocol released updated guidance for calculating emissions from purchased electricity (a significant portion of Staples’ carbon footprint). Because this is the de facto carbon accounting standard, Staples has adjusted its carbon reduction goal, accounting practices and reporting to align with this widely accepted standard in this reporting year.

In our response to the 2016 CDP Climate Questionnaire, we reported emissions from purchased electricity in two ways – the “location-based” approach, which uses emissions factors based solely on geographic region, and the “market-based” approach, which uses supplier-specific factors and takes into account renewable energy purchases (neither approach accounts for project offsets). We have also included both “location-based” and “market-based” numbers in our Performance Summary, and have restated numbers for previous years (going back as far as 2010, our baseline accounting year).

We are also adjusting our carbon reduction goal to reflect the “location-based” accounting practice and are providing updated numbers for all years in the goal period (2010–2015). While this “location-based” reporting method does not account for renewable energy purchases (like the renewable energy certificates purchased in the U.S. and Canada), it does reflect energy efficiency improvements, which is a significant area of focus for Staples (as demonstrated by the steady decline in emissions from 2010 through 2015 in the above chart). We also feel that our inventory of supplier-specific emissions factors is not yet robust enough to yield meaningful “market-based” emissions calculations; however, we can revisit if that changes in the future.

Our global carbon emissions decreased to 396,580 metric tons in 2015, a reduction of 28 percent from our 2010 baseline.

See our Performance Summary and CDP Climate Questionnaire response for more details about our carbon emissions calculations and methodology, climate strategy, and perceived climate risks and opportunities.

Our energy reduction program continues to save energy at facilities in North America and internationally. In the U.S., this results in over $1 million in operating expense savings annually, and an average of 5 percent reduction in electricity use over the last three years.

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