“Every great journey begins with a single step.”

As I consider this quote and our journey to 500 ENERGY STAR awarded sites, I’m overwhelmed with what it took to get here, but it also makes me ponder which first step really started the process.

My first discussions about ENERGY STAR were how similar the program philosophy was  to our already established energy program. It was about how to raise the bar on energy efficiency on our buildings, and how we work towards long term sustainability and saving the company millions of dollars.

I pondered what contributes to our success today. Was it, our first ENERGY STAR store in Crossville, TN in 2009, followed shortly thereafter by our largest distribution center in Hagerstown, MD and our home office in Framingham, MA receiving the award? Was it, the public commitment by our CFO, John Mahoney at the EEI National Accounts Meeting in March 2010, committing Staples to 500 ENERGY STAR facilities by the end of 2012?  At that time we had less than 50 ENERGY STAR awards.

Whatever the true first step was, I think it fit very well with the ENERGY STAR process….it begins with a commitment. It took a lot of partnerships like working with Burton Energy Group to boldly commit to achieve 500 ENERGY STAR awards, and more importantly, we could not have done it without the support of our senior leadership team, Andrew Thorpe and my direct reports. I can’t forget the finance team for their capital support and the hard work and opportunities given to us by the North American Distribution network with their onsite managers and maintenance teams. It’s a true team effort, and I could not be more proud to work with these individuals and an organization like Staples.

This economic climate has made this a challenging journey that tested all of us. However, the ENERGY STAR process is perfectly suited to the pursuit of Staples environmental goals in a way that saves us money. The improvement in our portfolio’s kWh/Sq Ft over the period of 2008 to 2012 was over 15%, savings the company millions of dollars and allowing Staples to continue investment in new products and services that differentiate us in the market

We teamed with many partners along the journey; one resource that played an important role was Burton Energy Group. Together we considered which technologies and services were best suited for us, which sites we’d target for these technologies and services, and how to best leverage the free resources and great branding from ENERGY STAR across our program. We navigated the process of ENERGY STAR, ensuring the accuracy of our Portfolio Manager numbers and validating the performance of the site required to receive the ENERGY STAR award. It was very exciting for me to watch our progress as we took steps to keep moving forward.

As Staples celebrates its 3rd consecutive ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award as a Sustained Excellence winner, I could not be more proud of all our accomplishments.

As we move on to our next goal of 1,000 ENERGY STAR awards by 2016 and look for ways to further leverage our relationship with ENERGY STAR across our company and supply chain, I know that we have partners in ENERGY STAR and Burton Energy Group that are as equally committed to the challenge of making environmental leadership exist in a way that helps business thrive.

I have also heard it said that “the joy is in the journey.”  With great partners like Burton and ENERGY STAR, I could not agree more.  Here’s to the journey to 1,000!

Bob Valair, CEM
Staples, Inc.
Energy & Environmental Management
Office: 508-253-5484