Natural Power Initiative
In 2005, we launched our Natural Power Initiative. This initiative committed us to engaging in business practices that would lower our Greenhouse Gas emissions and accelerate the development of a renewable energy economy. For this initiative we began measuring our energy use, improving our energy efficiency and “greening” the electricity we did use through the use of renewable energy certificates (RECs). In addition, as part of this initiative we also worked to raise awareness among our customers, partners, and industry peers of the importance of minimizing energy use and the benefits of wind power and other forms of renewable energy.
Tracking our Impact
We first had to figure out where we use energy and create a system for measuring this energy consumption. This process would enable us to assess our current environmental impact and measure any future changes (both increases and decreases). With help from The Climate Registry we were able to calculate our energy use and categorize it into different scopes.
Currently we track:
• Electrical energy use at our California headquarters
• Electrical energy and gas use at our store in Boulder, CO
• Electrical energy use at about 200 retail stores that carry prAna products
• Electrical energy use at the homes of our employees
We also track our indirect emissions from company vehicles, business travel and the daily work commuting of our employees. To accomplish this we track the mileage for our company vehicles and adjusted our expense reports so that we can track all of our employee business travel. And in early 2010, we began our TO & FRO program that easily allows employees to track the emissions generated from their daily commute to work.
Reducing our Impact
Calculating energy usage was just the first step in the initiative. The second step was to then reduce our energy consumption.
Here is what we have done so far:
• We had an energy audit of our head office and distribution center to identify areas where we can reduce our energy use, several of which we are currently addressing.
• We also put in place an incentive program for both our Vista office and Boulder store to encourage employees to commute to work using mass-transit, bicycles, carpool and other methods of transportation that have a low environmental impact.
• We have educated our employees on how their behavior impacts our energy use, and ways they can change their behavior to lower energy use while still doing their job.
Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)
After calculating our energy use and taking steps to lower it, we then worked to “renew” or green the energy we did use. We did this by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (REC, pronounced: rěk) equivalent to our annual electricity consumption. A REC represents the right to the environmental, social, and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source. While this might seem an abstract concept, it is really no different than buying a bonds or stocks – except instead of claiming rights to interest or future cash flows, you are instead claiming rights to environmental benefits. RECs have been recommended as a way to support the development of renewable energy by groups ranging from respected environmental advocacy groups including The Union of Concerned Scientists, the Environmental Defense Fund and The National Resource Defense Council.
While it might seem intimidating, figuring out the number of RECs you need to balance out your electricity use is a straightforward process. At prAna we calculate the amount of electricity used at our California headquarters, our Boulder store, at the homes of our employees and at the approximately 200 retailers who sell prAna’s products. Once we got this figure we then purchase RECs representing the generation and delivery to the electric grid of wind power equal to this amount of electricity. Since prAna launched its Natural Power Initiative program in 2005 these purchases have prevented the emission of an estimated 71,961 metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This has the equivalent climate impact of removing 13,180 average cars off the road or protecting 16,355 acres of forest.
Our REC purchases (and the REC purchases of other individuals and organizations) provide wind farms and other renewable energy project operators with a revenue stream that is helping make renewable energy generation as profitable as fossil fuel energy generation. As a result, more banks are willing to finance renewable energy projects, more engineers and developers want to build them, and more companies want to operate them – moving us all one step closer to a renewable energy economy.
Our Natural Power Initiative energy measurement, reduction and renewal efforts, along with our work to raise awareness of how others can minimize their environmental impact, have exceeded our expectations. Many of our customers, partners, and industry peers are now also measuring their carbon footprints, implementing energy efficiency initiatives, and using RECs to lower the environmental impact of their operations. And, we are fortunate enough to say that Natural Power Initiative efforts have been recognized – in 2006 prAna won the EPA’s Green Power Leadership award.
But this is only the beginning. Moving forward, prAna will continue to measure its GHG emissions, minimize its energy use, and “green” our electricity through the use of RECs. And we hope that if you have not done so already, you will join us.
If you would like to learn more on about how or your organization can use RECs to protect the environmental and support the development of energy, visit the EPA’s Green Power Partner website. You may also contact our REC partner and supplier, 3Degrees, which was recognized by the Department of Energy as one of its 2009 Green Power Suppliers of the Year.
prAna continues to be a member of the Green Power Partnership program. We are listed amongst the program’s members who off-set 100% of their USA facility emissions.
• Calculate your household emissions
Use this calculator to get a rough estimate of your personal or family’s greenhouse gas emissions and explore the impact of taking various actions to reduce your emissions.
• Learn how to reduce energy use in your office
Read the handout we created for our employees to educate them about the impact their behavior has on reducing our overall energy use.