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Starbucks' Extra Shot of Energy (Efficiency)

Starbucks strikes again! Not only has the company made headway in fair trade purchasing, its forest carbon program, and the cup recycling industry in recent years, but now it's hosting an energy efficiency competition among ten of its own stores to see who can cut electricity use the most in 30 days.

The competition, sponsored by the coffee company and Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington State, is part of a one-year project to utilize energy data to influence behaviors and reduce energy consumption. The goal: to determine what triggers can successfully prompt actions and whether people will continue to be mindful of conserving energy once the competition has ended. While the non-profit Portland Energy Conservation Inc. is assisting with the design of the project, California-based technology start-up Lucid is providing its "Building Dashboard" platform to monitor and measure energy savings in each location. The Lucid tablets will display electricity use throughout the day with energy data collected by smart meters, updated every one to five minutes. Lucid will simultaneously be collecting water and gas consumption data, however, these numbers will not be included in determining the winner of the competition. The results will be made public upon completion.

“Lucid looks forward to working with the project team to quantify the impact that real-time resource-use feedback can have on the retail environment,” said Michael Murray, Lucid’s chief executive. “We hope the measurement and verification process that is developed during this pilot will demonstrate that behavior change can provide significant and persistent energy savings in buildings. In the future, we hope to see other utilities implement behavior-based energy efficiency programs.”

The program encourages Starbucks employees to identify conservation strategies that will reduce the amount of energy required to run their stores, while at the same time not impacting customer service. For Starbucks, the pilot continues its leadership efforts around energy conservation and green business. “We have committed to reducing energy and water use in company-owned stores by 25 percent by 2015,” said Jim Hanna, director, environmental stewardship at Starbucks. “This pilot project demonstrates our ongoing desire to meet our customers’ expectations of providing a premium experience while at the same time constantly evaluating our environmental performance.”

Though the coffee giant has taken serious hits from environmentalists in the past regarding unsustainable practices, Starbucks does appear to be leagues ahead of other coffee chains in terms of sustainable initiatives. Other environmental stewardship projects currently underway by Starbucks include:

  • Working on strategy programs and guidelines with the U.S. Green Building Council so 75 percent of all new company-owned stores will be certified under the LEED green building standard.

  • The purchase of 50 percent renewable energy (in the form of renewable energy certificates or RECs) to power its global company-owned stores, and is well on its way to achieving its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2015.

  • Expansion of front-of-house recycling with programs in 18 markets, helping move toward the goal to provide all customers access to cup recycling by 2015.

  • Working with Conservation International to expand efforts to protect carbon-absorbing tropical forests in coffee-growing regions in Chiapas, Mexico, and Aceh and North Sumatra, Indonesia.

  • Reduction of water consumption by 25 percent company-wide by 2015.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Samantha Neary

Samantha is a graduate of Boston University with concentrations in English, Biology and Environmental Policy. After working in higher education textbook publishing for some time, she turned to the freelance writing world and now reports on corporate social responsibility, green technology and policy, and conservation for TriplePundit.

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