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Gap Announces Renewable-Energy Partnership With New Sustainability Goals

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The Gap Store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, circa 1969.

In an effort to increase its commitment to adopting more-sustainable operating strategies, Gap Inc. announced that it has partnered with Enel Green Power North America, a segment of the Rome-based renewable-energy firm Enel Green Power. Through the 90-megawatt wind-power virtual power purchase agreement, the San Francisco garment manufacturer says the step will help it reach its 2020 sustainability goals and set additional eco-friendly initiatives.

“We have a responsibility to reduce our climate impact. For Gap Inc., being a part of the climate solution means making strategic investments in clean-energy generation,” Art Peck, president and chief executive officer of Gap Inc. said in a statement.“Today we have secured a path to achieving our 2020 goal, but we must do more. I’m proud to commit to renewable energy for 100 percent of our stores, headquarters and distribution centers globally by 2030.”

With more than 3,300 stores around the globe, the apparel company is often limited regarding its energy sources due to management by building landlords from whom it leases retail space. The purchase of wind power from Enel Green Power will allow Gap Inc. to contribute to generating renewable energy that is the equivalent of more than 1,500 retail stores.

Over 12 years, Gap Inc. will source renewable wind energy from Enel Green Power North America, which will build the Aurora Wind Project, located in North Dakota. Anticipated to be in operation by the latter part of 2020, Aurora will have the capacity to generate approximately 1.3 terawatt hours annually. It will aid in the reduction of nearly 880,000 tons of CO2 each year.

During the selection and negotiation process regarding how to move closer to its sustainable goals and establish new initiatives, Gap Inc. consulted with Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services, a sustainable-energy-planning company headquartered in Louisville, Ky.

“We ran a rigorous RFP process with Schneider Electric and reviewed hundreds of project proposals from dozens of developers,” said Wilson Griffin, senior manager of sustainable innovation for Gap Inc. “We wanted to work with a reputable and experienced developer that had a project that met our business and sustainability impact requirements.”

Through this VPPA, the apparel company is buying renewable energy that will contribute to the larger electric grid to make a sustainable impact despite its retail stores’ reliance on traditional power. The clean power generated through the initiative allows Gap Inc. to reduce the impact of supplying energy to its stores, headquarter offices and distribution centers by half, which will be the annual equivalent of eliminating the effects of 60,000 passenger cars.

News of Gap Inc.’s VPPA comes on the verge of its 50th anniversary of the first store opening on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, during August of 1969. From its early days the company has attempted to contribute to the greater good, with the launch of the nonprofit charitable branch—the Gap Foundation—in 1977, the release of its first corporate social-responsibility report in 2004 and the introduction of goods to support HIV-AIDS-awareness through Product (Red) in 2006.

Photos courtesy of Gap.