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PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway Inc. here yesterday won the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) for promoting green business practices and implementing significant environmental initiatives throughout its operations.
The award, bestowed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, honors Safeway for its Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Sustainability Initiative, a program focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of solar power, wind power, alternative fuels, green construction strategies, employee education, and consumer outreach.
"This award recognizes all the efforts made throughout Safeway to reduce our carbon footprint," said Joe Pettus s.v.p. of fuel and energy for the chain. "We are utilizing innovative and creative means -- from wind and solar power to energy efficient equipment and consumer education -- to make meaningful changes that are helping the environment. This award acknowledges a tremendous team effort."
California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor, The Governor's Award recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership for voluntary achievements in conserving the state's resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, and building public-private partnerships. Awards are given in eight categories. Safeway won for the Climate Change category.
Safeway launched the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Sustainability Initiative in 2006 to reduce its carbon footprint and improve air quality. Safeway's energy and fuel team calculated the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted annually by operating facilities and the transportation fleet, and implemented cost-effective measures to cut emissions.
For example, the company purchased 87,000 megawatts of renewable wind energy to power its 295 U.S. fuel stations, its corporate campuses in Pleasanton and Walnut Creek, Calif. and all of its San Francisco and Boulder, Colo. stores. The retailer is the largest retail purchaser of green wind energy in California and one of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies purchasing green energy nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Safeway's other changes in this effort include utilizing advanced technology in stores to reduce electricity use for refrigeration systems and installing no-heat freezer case doors that reduce electric consumption. The company also replaced exterior store neon lighting with LED lighting to decrease electricity usage, and installed fluorescent lighting and other high-efficiency lamps. These efforts reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 350,000 tons in 2006.
This year Safeway maintained the momentum by launching the first of 23 planned California stores run by solar power. According to Safeway, the solar-powered stores will remove 10.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air, the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road annually.
Along with the energy-reduction and carbon-emissions programs, Safeway operates an extensive recycling program as part of an overall environmental focus. The chain recycles nearly 500,000 tons of materials, such as cardboard, plastics, compostable materials, and other food waste each year -- equivalent to filling six football fields stacked 35 feet high.
California established The Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards program in 1993. It is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Resources Agency in collaboration with the State and Consumer Services Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.
Safeway operates 1,738 stores in the United States and western Canada, posting annual sales of $40.2 billion in 2006.