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REI headquarters chosen top green company in Kent (again)

The corporate headquarters of REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) has been named the Kent Green Business of the Year – again.

Since winning the award in 2007 and 2008, REI continues to focus on minimizing its impact on the planet and reporting publicly on its progress at www.rei.com/stewardship.

Specifically, the company’s strategy includes five key areas: minimizing greenhouse gases, sustainable paper usage, reducing waste and optimizing recycling, and addressing product stewardship.

REI’s goals include being zero-waste-to-landfill and climate-neutral by 2020. As the company works toward achieving these goals, last year it recycled 88 percent of its operational waste by volume, such as paper, cardboard, glass, and wood pallets.

REI also managed its energy consumption; including retrofitting its headquarters campus with motion-sensor lights in meeting rooms and, at various retail locations, incorporating retrofits, day-lighting strategies and the installation of solar panels that generate 1.1 million kWh of clean energy per year.

REI encourages employees to bring batteries, cell phones and compact fluorescent lights from home for recycling. Employees are welcomed to submit green ideas and suggestions through an electronic suggestion box maintained by headquarters.

“We’re honored to be recognized for our efforts to reduce our impact, but recognize we have much work to do,” said Kevin Hagen, REI’s director of corporate social responsibility. “To achieve our steadfast commitment, we will continue to focus on collaboration as key to our long-term strategy.”

The co-op advocates collaboration as a means to shared solutions in its business, outdoor industry and community. For example, REI partnered with Renton-based Cedar Grove to bring a food waste compost program to its Kent campus, and actively participated in the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Working Group. Totaling more than 100 organizations, the group’s focus is to help the supply chain make informed product sourcing and product life cycle decisions. For REI, this includes its REI and Novara brand lines.

Employees also have been part of the picture. In 2009, REI hosted 485 REI-hosted conservation projects to help plant trees, restore trails, and clean parks and streams, which resulted in 107,000 volunteer hours. Locally, REI’s headquarters employees have engaged with Earthcorps and the City of Kent through lunchtime volunteer service projects in the Green River Natural Resources Area. Earthcorps also has partnered on multiple occasions with REI and the Friends of the Hylebos to host new employee orientation service project events. 

The City of Kent has been awarding the Kent Green Business of the Year since 2000. Previous recipients of this award include: The Boeing Company, REI, Worldwide Distributors, Emerald City Graphics, Staples Store No. 1357, Mikron Industries and Panasonic Services Company.

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