Lowe’s Companies is a home-improvement retailer with nearly 2,200 stores in the United States and Canada. The Mooresville, NC company employs 300,000 people and had sales in 2021 of $96 billion.
In 2021, it cut its scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gases by 42% over the last five years. It, therefore, beat its goal of cutting those emissions by 40% by 2025. Its new objective is to cut emissions by 60% by 2030 from 2022 levels.
“As one of the world’s largest retailers, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to protect the planet we all share. Across our operations, we reduced absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 42% over the past five years and achieved an 11% reduction in total energy consumption from 2020 to 2021,” says Marvin Ellison, chief executive of Loews, in the company’s annual report.
Scope 1 covers direct emissions at corporation operations. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the purchase of electricity generated by others.
The retailer now focuses on science-based net-zero targets — ones that keep temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century, compared to the pre-industrial levels. “The new target will include near and long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for Lowe’s full value chain, including Scopes 1, 2, and 3,” says Ellison.
Scope 3 refers to the company’s supply chain. That includes suppliers of wood and pulp, copper, steel, and iron. It also involves petrochemicals.
— investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy;
— Reducing operational waste while minimizing the environmental impact of our operations;
— ensuring that 100% of its suppliers have sustainability goals, and
— guaranteeing that 100% of its wood products are responsibly sourced.
Please detail your climate achievements and what is next.
Lowe’s is focused on improving operational efficiencies and transportation-related energy use. It leverages technology and data analytics to make its building complexes more energy efficient. To that end, it has retrofitted 1,000 building management systems across the country. That has reduced its energy consumption by better managing its electricity load and using automated quality controls.
It has also expanded its LED retrofit program. In 2021, every store in the United States and Canada had LED fixtures installed. That program led to an 11% reduction in energy consumption from 2020.
Moreover, “Our first renewable power purchase agreement, the Mesquite Star wind farm in Texas, produced more than 280,000 MWh of energy in 2021, its first full year of operation,” the company says. “This production helped reduce our carbon emissions by more than 4% from our 2016 baseline.
“In addition, in 2020,” it adds, “we partnered with Swift Current Energy to source an additional 250 MW of energy from the Black Diamond Solar Project in Illinois, which is expected to become operational in 2024. Lowe’s continues to be a member of the Clean Energy Buyers Association to evaluate and explore new opportunities and technologies across renewable energy markets.”
Please explain your policies on product sustainability.
Loew’s selects suppliers that value human rights and sustainability. Lowe’s has a “responsible sourcing team” to help it choose suppliers. For example, in 2021, it joined Forests Forward, which helps companies develop long-term and near-term strategies to reduce their forest footprint.
“Lowe’s recognizes the impact the world’s forests have on the ecological and climate processes upon which biodiversity and human life depend. Since one of Lowe’s primary products is lumber, enhancing sustainable wood sourcing practices for Lowe’s and our wood supply chain is one of our top priorities,” the company says in its sustainability report. Its primary aim is to reduce deforestation.
“Our Wood Sourcing Policy details our commitments to procure sustainable and certified wood products,” it adds. “As we continue to update and improve our wood purchasing program, we are committed to achieving the goal of 100% of wood products purchased from a responsible source by 2025.”
And your impact on water and transportation?
As a retailer, Lowe’s water consumption is modest. But it is still mindful of its water use, given that it is scarce in certain regions. To control its water use, it uses HydroPoint smart irrigation controllers at most stores. It also closely monitors its chemical disposal to avoid contaminating water supplies. It published a Water Stewardship Policy in 2020 as a guide for its supply chain to guide our organization’s water management decisions across our entire value chain.
As for transportation, it tries to ensure that its delivery trucks are filled to avoid subsequent runs and reduce CO2 emissions. By maximizing its trucks and optimizing its delivery routes, it says that it completes drop-offs in less time and uses less fuel.
“For domestic deliveries in the United States and Canada, we utilize freight transportation via our intermodal program whenever possible to maximize load efficiency and minimize fuel consumption and emissions,” it says. “In 2021, we saw a significant reduction in the number of available truck drivers in North America, further increasing the importance of leveraging intermodal transportation wherever possible.”
Lowe’s is also experimenting with electric vehicles at stores and distribution centers. “These vehicles would replace traditional combustion engines and reduce our fuel consumption and Scope 1 emissions. In addition, we are partnering with vendors to introduce EV charging stations at our stores for customer use.”
What are your waste management policies?
The retailer is committed to cutting its environmental impact by using recycled content, which involves what it would otherwise send to landfills and extends to its packaging. That includes strategic labeling that informs consumers on how they can recycle the boxes — something it started in 2021.
Lowe’s seeks to recycle and reuse products to divert waste from landfills. It partners with suppliers to improve recycling and waste diversion, measure waste streams, and conduct waste audits. It stores such waste streams as cardboard, plastics, and scrap wood. “We also operate in-store recycling centers for customers to recycle items, including compact fluorescent lamps, rechargeable batteries, plastic planter pots, and cell phones.”
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