Herman Miller celebrated Earth Day 2010 with the achievement of one of its key goals of utilizing 100 percent green energy for its worldwide operations. The company's initiative includes a set of environmental goals that target a zero operational footprint by the year 2020.
Beginning May 1, 2010, the company will join a small list of organizations worldwide that utilize 100 percent green energy, a feat primarily made possible by its employees.
"It started by providing an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to share their ideas about how to conserve electrical energy in the workplace," said Paul Murray, Herman Miller's Director of Environmental Health and Safety. "By documenting, tracking and auditing their ideas, we have generated enough savings to purchase 100 percent green energy."
Examples of energy saving ideas submitted by employees include utilizing sensors and timers for electrical devices, shutting off electrical devices when not in use, adjusting building temperature at certain times of the day, and changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, electricity generation can be one of the largest environmental impacts associated with an organization's operations. It suggests that purchasing green power is an effective way to reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use.
A U.S. EPA Green Power Partner, Herman Miller will primarily utilize Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), followed by Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), to achieve its 100 percent green energy goal. A REC guarantees that the renewable energy is harnessed from resources such as sunlight, wind or water flow and placed into the electrical grid. A PPA is a contract between an energy generator such as a wind farm and an energy user. In some cases, the company utilizes local utility green tariff rates for its locations abroad, including its operations in the United Kingdom. It also generates power from its own waste-burning Energy Center located near Herman Miller headquarters in Zeeland, Michigan.
Jerry Akers, Senior Energy Manager at Herman Miller, notes that the Michigan Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act also plays a significant role in the company's move to 100 percent green energy. "Because of this legislation we're able to complement our RECs with 100 percent wind power generated in Michigan through a PPA, which significantly contributes to our now operating at 78 percent carbon neutral," said Akers.
Murray believes that this achievement is significant, but it is only part of Herman Miller's larger vision for social responsibility, including the company's plan to become a 100 percent sustainable company. "Our goal is to create a better world for future generations and reducing our environmental footprint is one of several ways we are making that goal a reality," he said.