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Home Depot Does A Big Energy Deal, But It Does More Behind The Scenes

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When you have a big retail space, it makes a lot of sense on the surface to cover the whole roof in solar panels. After all, there’s space and generating renewable energy is a good thing. But even the largest stores can only cover around half of their electricity needs taking that approach. Even adding solar over the parking lot can only take you so far. On top of the space limitation, there’s the issue of efficiency. Putting energy back into the local grid is less efficient than larger utility-scale energy projects because most of the grid’s losses are near the end where the power is used.

So, it makes a lot of sense to see what Home Depot announced in a press release a few weeks ago. The Home Depot made a groundbreaking announcement — it will be procuring 100 MW of solar energy from the National Grid Renewables’ largest complex to date, located in Denton County, Texas. This mega-solar farm and its utility-scale electricity storage project can generate enough power to meet up to 8% of Home Depot’s total electricity needs.

Home Depot has reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability by pledging to produce or procure 100% renewable electricity equivalent to the needs of all of its facilities by 2030. This extends Home Depot’s previous goal to attain 335 megawatts of alternative energy sources by 2025. By embracing renewables, the company is taking a massive step forward towards reducing its carbon footprint and making sustainable decisions for future generations.

“Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth,” said Ron Jarvis, chief sustainability officer for The Home Depot. “With this purchase, we are getting a step closer to our goal to produce or procure 100% renewable electricity equivalent to the needs of our facilities. We anticipate about three-quarters of our alternative and renewable energy capacity will come from solar energy by the end of 2023.”

The Noble project is a major renewable energy initiative situated in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). It consists of 275 MW solar and 125 MWh energy storage, estimated to reduce up to 450,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

Since 2010, The Home Depot has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint by enhancing operational efficiency and investing in renewable energy resources. Thanks to these efforts, electricity usage within US stores is now 50% lower than before. Additionally, more than 80 stores have installed rooftop solar farms and over 200 sites are utilizing fuel cells for electricity production — all incredible steps towards a greener future.

Home Depot’s Other Sustainability Efforts

Toward the end of the press release, Home Depot started talking about its other efforts to lower its impact on the environment. In the area of power generation, Home Depot is currently utilizing solar power from a 75 MW facility, and has committed to an additional 50 MW of capacity. The company is sourcing energy from a 50 MW wind farm as well. This combined renewable energy source will generate enough electricity for more than 500 stores annually.

Home Depot also included a link that made me feel a lot better about shopping with the company for my home improvement supplies, where it described some of its other efforts.

Making sure that the products it purchases are sourced responsibly is a crucial part of its business model. That’s why its Responsible Sourcing Standards demand that all suppliers and factories follow international and local laws, rules, and regulations in regards to manufacturing or distribution services provided. Additionally, regular audits are conducted around the world to guarantee compliance with these standards.

Probably the most important industry Home Depot subjects to standards is the lumber industry. Since 1999, Home Depot has taken proactive steps to look after endangered forests and future generations by issuing the wood purchasing policy. Consequently, it has been working tirelessly to educate lumber suppliers globally on sustainable forestry practices. The firm requires that wood come from certified sources, and it has made a number of changes to wood sources to increase forest sustainability.

It has also cut back on its electricity usage. In 2021, Home Depot triumphantly completed its multi-year initiative to upgrade American stores with energy efficient LED lighting. An incredible 383 stores were retrofitted throughout the fiscal year, illuminating all store aisles across America and its neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada. These US shops now consume about 30% less electricity than those that rely on traditional lighting sources.

In warehousing, it has switched forklifts to renewable energy sources, cut back on the use of wood freight pallets, and sells extra cargo space on its trucks to make its shipping more efficient (and lucrative). Plus, with the space saved cutting back on pallets, the shippers can fit in more goods and less packaging for each load.

Finally, it’s got programs to encourage buyers to choose more sustainable products. In some cases, it’s about finding products from cleaner sources, but in other cases, it’s about helping customers know what products will save them energy at home after the sale. On top of that, it is encouraging suppliers to use more sustainable packaging and reduce harmful waste products.

Taking A Wider View Of Sustainability

One thing we need to be careful of as we move to renewable energy is the temptation to stop there. Buying big quantities of solar energy, putting up flashy rooftop solar installations, and other projects that look impressive can gain a lot of press and attention. While those things are important and need to happen, we need to not forget that there are many other things we can do to increase sustainability along with the energy transition.

Clean energy is good, but the energy you don’t use to begin with is even better. Getting more work per unit of energy, even for something as simple as putting a few more things in a truckload, adds up to some real energy savings even if there are no new technologies or highly visible projects involved.

When we seen these big press releases with big clean energy numbers, it’s important to make sure that there’s a deeper commitment to sustainability than just throwing money at the problem in a few simple and flashy ways. Fortunately, Home Depot passed our test on this, so its solar press release means a lot more.

Featured image provided by The Home Depot.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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