By building more energy-efficient stores and facilities, conserving the energy and water we use, and purchasing renewable energy credits, we are pushing ourselves to reduce the environmental footprint of our business operations.
In 2008 we set a goal to reduce water consumption by 25% in company-operated stores by 2015. Since then we’ve identified a number of opportunities to use this precious resource more wisely and have spent the last few years testing, validating and implementing these solutions. We are proud to have exceeded our goal and reduced water use by 26.5% through retrofits to plumbing, water systems and enhancements to new store design. As we look to the future, we will continue to focus on strategies that can further reduce use of this precious resource.
Our work on water also extends into water consumption, protection and access to clean drinking water in coffee-growing communities. Through C.A.F.E. Practices and the resources our agronomists provide coffee farmers at our eight farmer support centers around the world, we can help increase their yield and quality while still reducing water used for coffee processing, protecting rivers and streams and ensuring workers have access to clean drinking water. We are also working with non-profit organizations to help improve livelihoods and quality of life in many coffee growing regions by investing in programs addressing critical community needs such as water access, sanitation and hygiene.
Our goals for energy conservation are similarly ambitious. In the past year we completed the installation of Energy Management Systems in in approximately 6,000 stores. Energy Management Systems optimize heating and cooling and will enable us to identify additional opportunities for savings going forward. We are also continuing to focus on driving energy savings in our stores through optimization of equipment and lighting specifications.
Some of our energy savings have been offset by the growth of our business into new sectors that have altered our environmental footprint in unanticipated ways. For example, the addition of heated food to our menu has required an increase in refrigeration and ovens, offsetting a portion of the gains from our existing energy efficiency measures.
But this doesn’t mean that we should aim lower. We’ve frequently asked ourselves and our key stakeholders if leadership is best reflected by setting aspirational targets that we may not fully achieve or by achieving 100% of targets whose path is fully defined the day they are set. As a company with constant innovation at our core, we choose to be aspirational, and to use these challenges to provide us with important learning opportunities to inform our next steps. We will continue to look for innovative solutions to further improve the energy performance or our stores, even while experiencing major transformations in our business.
Investing in Renewable Energy
In addition to reducing our energy use, we are also focused on advancing renewable energy sources through our purchasing practices. For 2016, we remained one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top ten purchasers of renewable energy in the U.S.
The Green-E certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) we purchase encourage the development of new clean-energy sources by providing wind-farm owners with additional revenue. This, in turn, helps the wind farmers sell electricity at prices competitive with power plants that use fossil fuels. We are proud to have purchased RECs equivalent to 100% of the energy used in our U.S. and Canada company-operated stores through 2016. We are working with our international market partners to identify and plan for purchasing more locally relevant renewable energy going forward.