The new solar panel array at our distribution center in Henderson, Nevada – installed 100 days ahead of schedule, despite the challenges of COVID-19 – is a triple win: It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, provides on-site power generation and creates shade for employees.
The panels are an eye-catching symbol of Levi Strauss & Co.’s commitment to sustainability, and an important step toward meeting our goal of using 100% renewable electricity in our owned-and-operated facilities by 2025 (part of our science-based targets?for reducing carbon emissions across our direct operations and global supply chain). They’ll provide about 20% of the facility’s electricity needs and help make the case for investing more in solar.
“What I really like is that it’s a statement – the carports are noticeable from the main parkway,” said Victoriano Molina, director of strategic projects for the Global Distribution & Logistics team. “We’re setting the standard and making a statement.”
While installing the panels during the COVID-19 pandemic did bring some additional challenges, the teams took advantage of having fewer employees at the facility to fast-track the project and finish more than three months ahead of schedule.
And – perhaps most important of all to the employees who work there – the panels were built carport-style to provide shade that is particularly welcome in an area where temperatures above 100 degrees are common in the summer. In fact, that was one of the reasons that the company decided to build the panels over the parking lot, rather than on the roof.
“Employee feedback has been phenomenal,” said Ben Elwood, director of distribution operations for the Global Distribution & Logistics team. “Their vehicles are cooler and steering wheels are no longer blistering hot.”
Sustainability is nothing new to the Henderson distribution center. The building is certified Platinum Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) and was the largest distribution center to receive that accreditation at the time of its initial certification. The sustainable design features range from a reflective white roof and motion-sensor lighting to energy-efficient kiosks with healthy snacks.
And LS&Co. kept its green approach throughout the solar panel installation process. All of the soil that was excavated for the project was recycled – including 502 tons of dirt that was repurposed to fill the Raiders football team’s new training facility in Henderson. Another 29 tons of asphalt and 63 tons of large rocks were recycled as well.
“We hope the success of this project shows our peers and suppliers – if we can do it, you can too,” said Liza Schillo, a senior manager on LS&Co.’s sustainability team. “We’re happy to partner and share our learnings, and we’re excited about the opportunity for ripple effects.”