U.S. Department of Energy recognizes REI distribution center for energy efficiency

280,000-square-foot solar panels, 'hypershairs' for employees and robotic fulfillment technologies help cut energy costs and environmental impact.

280,000-square-foot solar panels, 'hypershairs' for employees and robotic fulfillment technologies help cut energy costs and environmental impact.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized Better Buildings Alliance partner REI for the energy productivity advances made in its Arizona distribution center located in Goodyear, Ariz.

Supporting 40% of the co-op’s stores and employing more than 200 people, the center has achieved an annual energy savings of 18% and annual cost savings of $170,000 from the baseline in the first two years of operation. The Goodyear distribution center is REI’s Better Buildings Showcase Project.

To achieve its goal of net-zero energy consumption, REI installed a 2.2-megawatt solar system which is expected to power the entire facility, bringing REI’s overall annual energy savings to 100%. The solar array covers 280,000 square feet of roof space and the city of Goodyear’s power station is adjacent to the facility, which helps reduce energy loss through transmission.

REI installed a non-evaporative cooling system which eliminated the need for cooling towers, saving millions of gallons of water every year. The distribution center put energy efficiency directly in the hands of its employees by adding hyperchairs that give staff the ability to control their own microclimate with individual fans and heating elements. Additional energy and cost savings are expected for 2019 as a result of retro-commissioning work completed in late 2018.

The REI facility is the industry’s first omni-channel 1-touch fulfillment system, which enables one person to process items eight times faster than at a typical distribution center by using robotic shuttles to move products. In partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation and The Nature Conservancy of Arizona, REI has supported modernization of irrigation infrastructure to conserve water and enhance flows for recreation and wildlife, protect farmland and limit development and water extraction in sensitive areas, as well as removal of invasive plants to restore river habitat.

REI joined DOE’s Better Buildings Alliance in 2015. Since becoming a partner, REI has actively participated in program events, including webinars, meetings, and working groups to share energy efficiency best practices with peers in the retail sector.

More than 900 organizations now partner with DOE in Better Buildings and have saved more than $3 billion in energy costs to-date. Through Better Buildings, DOE partners with leaders in the public and private sectors to make the nation’s homes, commercial buildings, and industrial plants more energy-efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices. Greater efficiency saves billions of dollars on energy bills, reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and creates jobs.

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