Starbucks Misses Energy Efficiency Targets

March 24, 2015
Starbucks is having trouble meeting its goal to reduce energy use 25 percent by 2015, according to its recently issued annual sustainability report.

Starbucks is having trouble meeting its goal to reduce energy use 25 percent by 2015, according to its recently issued annual sustainability report.

Last year, the company improved its energy performance only 4.6 percent over its 2008 baseline, using 6.49 kWh/square foot per store in the U.S. and Canada. By comparison, the stores improved 7.1 percent from 2012 to 2013 and used 6.32/square foot per store.

It was not for lack of trying. Starbucks built 98 percent of its new stores to LEED specifications last year. The company also put in place 4,000 new energy management systems to improve efficiency of store heating and cooling, installed efficient lighting, and built stores to take  advantage of natural lighting.

So what’s the problem? It turns out it’s those sandwiches and other edibles. It takes energy to prepare food, and Starbucks is serving more food.

Customers are not only eating lunch at Starbucks more and more, but they like their sandwiches heated…as well as their muffins and pastries.

It’s not exactly clear from the report what Starbucks plans to do about this. (Let them eat cake, cold?) But the company says it’s trying to figure it out.

“This doesn’t mean we should aim lower,” The report said. “We believe in the importance of setting aspirational targets rather than settling for less ambitious targets, as well as learning from our experience to inform next steps.”

The good news. A large portion of the energy is from renewables (or renewable energy credits). Starbucks bought more than a half billion kWh of wind power over the last year. In all, 59 percent of its power came from green energy. By the end of 2015, the retail chain hopes to source 100 percent of its energy used in US and Canadian stores from renewables.

So readers, any suggestions about how Starbucks can reach its 25 percent goal?

Comment on this article below, or join our LinkedIn Group, Energy Efficiency Markets.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

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