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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Kohl's Is the Largest Retail Host of Solar Power In North America

Kohl’s released its first CSR report this week, which highlights its sustainability accomplishments in 2010. One of Kohl’s biggest achievements is in its use of renewable energy. The department store chain is the “largest single retail host of solar electricity in North America,” according to the report. In 2007, Kohl’s entered a 20 year power purchase agreement with SunEdison. By the end of last year, 100 of the company’s stores in California, Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland had solar power systems.

In California alone, Kohl’s stores with solar power systems generate 25 megawatts (MW), which is equivalent to the power used by 3,087 California homes. Each solar power system provides 40 percent of a store’s power.

In 2006, Kohl’s joined the EPA Green Power Partnership. In 2009, the company purchased more than 1,367,376,000-kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits (RECs) for use in 2010. Purchasing RECs offsets the energy used by Kohl’s stores that do not have solar power systems.

As a member of the EPA Energy Star Program, Kohl’s measures the energy performance of its stores, scoring them on a 1 to 100 scale. Stores with a score of 75 or more are eligible for the Energy Star label. Commercial buildings with the Energy Star label use about 35 percent less energy and emit one-third less carbon. By the end of 2010, 500 Kohl’s stores were Energy Star labeled and the company was named the 2010 Energy Star Partner of the Year for Energy Management by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Over 140 Kohl’s stores are LEED certified, and 72 stores and one office building achieved LEED certification last year. An estimated 20 percent of the building materials used by Kohl’s stores are locally manufactured and harvested from within 500 miles of new store sites. Efficient plumbing fixtures in new stores reduced water use 20 to 30 percent.

Other achievements include:

  • In 2007, Kohl’s joined the EPA SmartWay Shipper program, and in 2010, nine of its top 10 carriers earned the highest rating of 1.25 in the EPA SmartWay program. Kohl’s achieved a total rating of 1.19 for miles traveled last year.

  • Last year, Kohl’s won the EPA WasteWise Gold Achievement Award for Green Purchasing and Organic Material Reduction. The award recognized Kohl’s efforts to use more recycled content, and reduce waste. Kohl’s recycled 77 percent of all waste generated. Kohl’s uses 100 percent recycled content for its gift boxes and restroom paper, and uses 20 to 35 percent recycled content for its merchandise bags.

  • In May 2009, Kohl’s started a program to measure the sustainability of 322 of its top merchandise vendors through a formal sustainability survey process. The vendors receive a survey quarterly. By the end of last year, the top 322 supply vendors scored an average 51 points on the survey. Any vendor scoring below 30 points “fell into an unacceptable sustainability rating and has been challenged to improve its commitment to resource conservation.”

“Over the last several years, in the midst of the company’s continued growth, we’ve worked to formalize these initiatives and set goals that will truly have a positive, long-term impact for our business and our communities,” said Ken Bonning, Kohl’s executive vice president of store planning and logistics. “We know that sustainability is an ongoing, comprehensive process that requires commitment from associates and business partners, and this report is one of the ways we can share what we’re doing and where we’re going.”
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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