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Leon Kaye headshot

Kohl’s Ramps Up Investment in Solar Energy 25% This Year

By Leon Kaye

Wisconsin-based Kohl’s Department Stores not only keeps expanding in a rough economy for retailers, it keeps investing in its long term operations. Already a leader in solar investment and energy efficiency, Kohl’s is adding even more locations across the U.S. to its impressive renewable energy portfolio.

Many of Kohl’s stores in California, Maryland and Connecticut already have solar installations, and while more locations in those states will score such retrofits this year, stores in additional states will see construction of solar arrays atop their roofs. Massachusetts, New York and Ohio will gain new solar arrays. By the end of 2012, over 150 Kohl’s stores in 13 states will generate 20 to 50 percent of its energy needs from solar energy.

Kohl’s solar program started in 2007 with a solar array on top of its Laguna Niguel, CA store. For the department store chain, not only does the investment in solar lead to immediate decreased electricity costs, but solar is a way to demonstrate the company’s stakeholder engagement. Whether ramping up recycling efforts, earning LEED and Energy Star certifications for its stores, or installing solar on rooftops, Kohl’s presents sustainability as part of the consumer experience and shows that it is an engaged business within the local community.

At the end of 2012, Kohl’s estimates that its total solar capacity will reach 74.2 million kilowatt hours of energy, the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the roads or canceling out the emissions of 6400 homes annually. As for the rest of its electricity consumption, Kohl’s offsets it with renewable energy credits (RECs). With over 700 stores Energy Star-certified and rising, Kohl’s commitment to solar is just one part of a holistic approach towards making the entire company’s operations, from the supply chain to the department stores’ floors, as responsible as possible.

Energy prices have stabilized for now, but they could spike at any time. While other retail chains’ financial performance has been lackluster, annual revenue at Kohl’s is $18 billion annually and climbing. Those solar panels could help keep Kohl’s very competitive in the coming decade and help hedge the company against any energy price shocks. With over 1000 stores nationwide, it will be curious to watch how aggressive Kohl’s strategy will play out in the coming years.

Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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