Herman Miller Reaches 100% Green Energy Use Goal
Herman Miller, Inc. has achieved one of its key 2020 Perfect Vision goals of using 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 only a few organizations worldwide that use 100 percent green energy, a feat primarily made possible by its employees.
"It starts by providing an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to share their ideas about how to conserve electrical energy in the workplace," says 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 Green Power Partner, Herman Miller will primarily use 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 uses 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 near the company's headquarters in Zeeland, Mich.
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," says Akers.