Meijer Renewable Energy Evaluation and Strategy

Client Organization: 
Project Location : 
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Summary of Project Idea: 

Meijer, Inc. is a growing multi-billion dollar retailer with over 200 stores, five distribution centers, and six food manufacturing plants in six states. With support from a 2015-16 SNRE Master’s Project, Meijer characterized its environmental footprint and developed a sustainability plan that includes a commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations. Electricity use is the largest component of Meijer’s carbon footprint. Due to its current energy management strategy, the Meijer use intensity benchmarks favorably against industry measures such as Energy Star.  Approximately 70% of current store locations are eligible for an Energy Star Rating. In addition to the work of Meijer’s energy management team to improve efficiency at Meijer stores, utilizing electricity from renewable sources will provide the opportunity to further reduce Meijer’s carbon emissions. Additionally, recent cost reductions or incentive programs for some technologies may provide a feasible return on investment to support a business case for capital expenditures.  

Goals & Objectives

The purpose of this project is to identify and evaluate opportunities to expand the renewable energy portfolio of Meijer, Inc. through onsite electricity generation or participation in credit programs (e.g. renewable energy certificates, power purchase agreements, or utility investments).  The first objective is to conduct an evaluation of alternatives for Meijer’s renewable energy strategy with regards to technology availability, suitability by location, cost, and benchmarking against other retailer initiatives.

The second objective is to develop a decision-making tool to calculate detailed project costs, performance metrics, and the expected impacts to Meijer’s carbon footprint for the most preferred alternatives, and present final recommendations for Meijer’s renewable energy strategy.  

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance

Meijer has identified that the use of electricity from fossil fuels is the most significant contributor to the company’s overall carbon footprint. Meijer’s energy management team has continuously and successfully implemented projects to reduce electricity use and improve efficiency at stores. Increasing the use of renewable energy sources for electricity is a critical step for Meijer to further reduce the carbon intensity of its operations. 

Specific Activities & Duration

One to two students will identify opportunities for Meijer to participate in renewable energy credit programs within Meijer’s regional footprint. Students will evaluate policy, cost, and carbon footprint implications of participating in these programs. One student will also review publicly available information to benchmark the renewable energy initiatives of other regional and national retailers. Concurrently, two to three students will identify feasible technologies for installation at Meijer properties. These will be evaluated based on expected performance, suitability by location, and cost. Students will identify applicable incentive programs or policy considerations and propose candidate sites for the appropriate technologies. Students will work with Meijer Energy and Environmental teams to select two to four demonstration projects from the proposed alternatives, and will calculate key decision making metrics for these projects. Meijer will support one full-time student intern during the summer of 2017.

Integrative Approach:

The project will require students to integrate skills related to policy, business, engineering, energy resources, and carbon accounting. Students will develop independent deliverables in order to present cohesive and comprehensive recommendations for Meijer’s renewable energy strategy. 

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Greg Keoleian
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Chun Yin (Anson) Chang
  • Geoffrey Murray
  • Xiaodan Zhou
Project Status: 
Past Project