As institutional shareholders sought commitments, Lowe’s announced it is ‘making progress towards reducing its carbon footprint’

Home improvement superstore Lowe’s announced Monday that it was making progress towards reducing its carbon footprint and increasing the energy efficiency of its stores.

The company announced that in 2014, Lowe’s set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and is on track to achieve this goal.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (the Fund) and Boston Common Asset Management communicated with the company in preparation for a possible shareholder proposal seeking lower emissions targets, but Lowe’s proactive steps made the formal proposal unnecessary, according to a statement from the Fund’s trustee, NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Lowe’s also announced it will study the feasibility of procuring renewable energy to power its stores.

“Lowe’s is to be commended for responding to shareholders’ climate risk concerns and lowering its non-renewable energy usage,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the Fund. “Climate change poses challenges throughout the marketplace and businesses in every sector need to take steps that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the environment.”

Keith Mestrich, President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, initiated similar conversations with Lowe’s to lower the company’s emissions.

“We believe all companies should make environmental sustainability a key focus in how they approach business. By aligning with the carbon reduction objectives outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Lowe’s is showing its commitment to the environment and to a future of sustainable growth and long term returns to shareholders.”

David Brook, a Lowe’s shareholder,  drafted the initial 2016 shareholder proposal to the company.

Ceres report found that 64 percent of the largest 600 U.S. companies have committed to reducing their carbon footprint, and almost a third have commitments to transition to clean energy.

To date, Lowe’s has reduced emissions by 18 percent because of infrastructure investments in its stores, including the following:

Variable Fan Drives installed in 368 stores
Building Management Systems in 198 Stores
LED Lighting Retrofits in 132 Stores
High efficiency HVAC rooftop units in 100 stores

Last year Lowe’s began the installing high-efficiency HVAC units to 100 stores.  Lowe’s achieved energy savings through these investments, while recycling over 4 million pounds of materials which would have otherwise ended up in a landfill, according to the company. Included in those materials were over 3 million pounds of metals, 560,000 pounds of compressors, and 63,000 pounds of refrigerant.

Lowe’s plans to assess how it can approach meeting the carbon reduction objectives outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Because Lowe’s understands the need to prepare for a low carbon economy in the future, Lowe’s is committed to continuing to engage stakeholders on this important topic and make regular disclosures over the next few years,” the company said in a statement. “… To further Lowe’s goal around carbon emissions, the company plans to assess the feasibility of clean energy deployment and update its future goals for reducing its carbon footprint. This will help evaluate the company’s public goals and develop a roadmap for additional actions Lowe’s can take to reduce its environmental footprint and help our shared Earth.”




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Frank Parlato

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