Beyond the Meter - Episode 4: The Home Depot Sustainability Approach

 

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The Home Depot Sustainability Approach, with Craig D’Arcy and Craig Noxon

One of the high profile corporate renewable energy initiatives in the news recently has been the unveiling of Home Depot’s sustainability goals. Home Depot is among the increasing number of corporations working to make renewables a significant part of their energy procurement strategy. But for Home Depot, this new direction is not fueled by a desire to become sustainable, it began because it makes financial sense. 

On this episode of Beyond The Meter, join host John Failla and his co-host Craig Noxon, Vice President for Enterprise Sales at REC Solar, a Duke Energy Renewables Company as they speak with Craig D’Arcy, Director of Energy Management for Home Depot. You’ll learn how Home Depot started its journey toward the use of renewables, how early successes encouraged further efforts, and how both the financial and efficiency benefits of using renewable energy has motivated them to keep innovating. The Home Depot approach is a great example of how corporations can make use of renewables and increase the bottom line at the same time.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:05] The background and role of each participant in regards to renewable energy
  • [3:25] Home Depot’s energy management strategy: key elements
  • [5:41] The primary drivers for the Home Depot strategy
  • [8:13] Comparing Home Depot’s approach to the work other companies are taking
  • [11:56] Technologies Home Depot has employed, renewable energy and otherwise
  • [16:57] The role renewable energy plays for Home Depot
  • [20:42] Which programs are most important to Home Depot (on-site or off-site)?
  • [25:11] The challenge of getting stakeholders aligned toward renewable energy
  • [27:50] Tips for those trying to get the attention of the C-suite for sustainability efforts
  • [29:35] Advice about how to enlist the financial teams to help make the case
  • [32:36] What’s next for Home Depot’s energy management strategy?
  • [35:54] The challenges of energy providers in light of renewable energy innovation
  • [40:36] Energy as a service concepts: Do they work for large companies?

Home Depot’s energy policy goals made renewables a viable option

There are typically three drivers behind a corporation’s consideration of renewables as an energy source. The first is cost, the second is the company's conscious sustainability goals, the third is increased resiliency. Craig D’Arcy says there is no doubt that all three play some role in Home Depot’s approach, but the first attempts to roll out renewable energy projects were entirely focused on the financial benefits. Renewables simply made financial sense for increasing efficiency and bottom-line profitability.

As early successes with renewable projects were achieved, they were able to investigate other options and expand their efforts toward sustainability. It's led to their sustainability story becoming public, which has driven internal excitement and created momentum for the renewables side of their energy procurement strategies. Listen to hear how Home Depot continues to consider all sorts of energy solutions, including any renewable sources that make sense for their broader goals.

3 critical elements of the Home Depot sustainability approach

When thinking of the renewable energy movement, it’s common to assume that those pushing for the use of renewables are only concerned about global issues of sustainability, but there’s incredible motivation to implement renewable energy alternatives from a variety of standpoints. In the case of Home Depot, three primary concerns guide their energy decisions...

1 - Foremost, Home Depot views everything they do through caring for their stores so that associates and customers are served well

2 - Every energy sourcing project must make sense financially

3 - Leadership has passed down a mandate to be as innovative as possible to accomplish those first two, which makes their decision-making technology and structure agnostic

Listen to hear how this plays out for Home Depot as Craig D’Arcy explains the fit renewable energy has in that three-pronged approach.

Sustainability efforts are significant for Home Depot's future

No company can survive if it is not profitable. Home Depot is no different, so it is no surprise to find out that from a financial standpoint, renewable energy is being leveraged to lower the net rates paid for energy throughout the company. But the benefits of renewable energy go far beyond that...

Home Depot has become known as a sustainability brand, recently releasing its own science-based targets for its energy policy, which includes renewable energy as a significant part. And finally, renewable energy provides natural, beneficial hedges against volatile energy pricing in the markets. Power Purchase Agreements with energy providers enables this hedge and has proven to be a huge benefit to the company.

Advice for convincing the C-suite to consider sustainability projects

  • The C-suite of any company must be on board if a move toward sources of renewable energy is going to take place. Both Craig D’Arcy and Craig Noxon offer their advice on how to secure the buy-in of company executives.
  • First, map out the process. Have a clear projection of how and why renewable energy sources will be investigated, selected, and implemented. 
  • Next, understand what the stakeholders care about and be sure your roadmap adequately addresses those concerns. In doing so, work hard to uncover potential landmines and head them off proactively. 
  • Finally, be sure you know how are you going to sell the upside of procuring energy from renewable sources. Bottom-line benefits for the company will be a significant and compelling consideration for anyone in the C-suite.
  • Home Depot’s sustainability efforts provide an excellent case study from which other corporations can take their cues - and this conversation provides keen insight into the why, how, and what of moving toward renewables as at least a portion of a profitable energy procurement strategy.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Craig D’Arcy and Craig Noxon

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