Editor's note: Woodworking Network posted the news item below - Steelcase Matches Consumption with Renewable Energy Investment - on March 19 based on a press release issued by Steelcase Inc. dated March 13. We have since added the following two updates based on communications with representatives of Herman Miller and Steelcase dated March 25 and April 1 respectively.

FIRST UPDATE: Posted March 25

Second Update: Steelcase Supports 'First' 100% Green Energy ClaimOn March 21, Mark Schurman, director of corporate communications for Herman Miller, a Steelcase competitor based in Zeeland, MI, sent an e-mail to Woodworking Network Contributing Editor Wade Vonasek calling into question the accuracy of Steelcase's claim that "it is the first major company in its industry to purchase non-emitting renewable energy equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption."

"Noted your article cited Steelcase as first to achieve 100% green energy use, however we reached that milestone in 2010 and have maintained since," Schurman said. Schurman also sent a link to a press release issued by Herman Miller on April 22, 2010, since posted verbatim on Woodworking Network, headlined, Herman Miller Achieves 100 Percent Green Electrical Energy Use.

Woodworking Network's multiple attempts to obtain a comment or clarification from Laura Van Slyke, listed as the press contact on the Steelcase release, were unsuccessful.

Woodworking Network will post comments or clarifications from Steelcase if and when they are received.

SECOND UPDATE: Posted April 1

Second Update: Steelcase Supports 'First' 100% Green Energy ClaimWoodworking Network spoke with Angela Nahikian, head of Steelcase's sustainability team, on March 27. She explained that Laura Van Slyke of Steelcase's public relations department, was not able to respond to previous Woodworking Network requests for comment because she was on maternity leave.

Nahikian said that to the best of her knowledge, Steelcase is the first major office furniture manufacturer that is purchasing solely "non-emitting renewable energy" to achieve 100 percent of its electricity needs worldwide.

“Steelcase celebrates all those investing in the future of our shared energy resources," Nahikian said. "In making our sustainable investment decisions, we make strategic choices we believe will result in the biggest and most positive impacts. The choice we made to invest in non-emitting renewable energy, at such a significant scale, was very intentional and central to a much larger energy investment strategy. Though we are proud to have contributed to expanding the clean energy market over many years, and most recently in this way, lowering our reliance on fossil fuels remains an urgent priority.”

Mark Schurman, director of corporate communications for Herman Miller, did some additional fact checking and indicated that he understood the distinction Steelcase makes in its claim.

"(I) heard back from our guys and they did an inventory of all outstanding RECs (renewable energy certificates) and apparently we do have a couple of the earlier contracts purchased that are still in effect (though expiring in three months) that are generating energy using landfill methane off-gassing. This is a small portion of our total (largely wind) and is already scheduled to be replaced with more direct investment in wind farms in MI (an existing plan, not a new decision), but technically Steelcase PR is correct with their current claim."

Each of the Herman Miller and Steelcase spokespeople agreed that it is a good thing that the two companies are pursuing green energy through the renewable energy certificate program.

As Schurman put it, "so no apparent divergence in our respective approaches, just a matter of our being a first mover and using the resources available at the time. As we and others have been creating demand, and technology advances making wind and other renewables more accessible, we’re glad to see the growth in pure renewable RECs."

Woodworking Network has invited Herman Miller and Steelcase to contribute guest blogs about their respective green energy initiatives.

Steelcase Matches Consumption with Renewable Energy Investment

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Steelcase Inc., a developer and manufacturer of furniture products and services for workplaces, announced its long-term renewable energy investment is equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption, making the company the 15th largest 100% renewable energy purchaser in the United States, according to the U.S. EPA's Green Power Partnership.

Since the company began tracking its consumption in 2001, its larger energy strategy has resulted in a 60% reduction in energy use. Steelcase purchases its renewable energy credits (RECs) from a portfolio that includes newer projects and non-emitting sources like wind and hydroelectric energy in North America and Europe, and it is the first major company in its industry to purchase non-emitting renewable energy equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption.

“Our commitment to renewable energy is reflective of our passion for innovation and the environment. We're helping grow an industry that will ultimately benefit the entire world,” said Jim Keane, president and CEO of Steelcase Inc. “But as a reflection of our company values, we maintain a sense of urgency in limiting our use of fossil fuels. Steelcase remains focused on identifying innovative ways to build the energy efficiency of our operations, to reduce the embodied energy of our products, and to help our customers optimize their own real estate and energy use.”

“We congratulate Steelcase Inc. for using 100% renewable energy and taking a leadership position on the environment,” said Blaine Collison, director of EPA's Green Power Partnership. “The impressive green power commitment of Steelcase helps reduce carbon emissions and provides an excellent example for other organizations.”

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