GRAND RAPIDS — Office furniture titan Steelcase Inc. recently achieved a significant carbon emission-reduction target while also announcing a new one for the coming decade.
The Grand Rapids-based global manufacturer said this week it has achieved carbon neutrality for its own operations through energy efficiency and renewable energy contracts. The company now looks to ride the momentum by becoming carbon negative — or, “climate positive” — by 2030.
By expanding on its existing renewable energy commitments, Steelcase worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the last decade, removing as much carbon from its operations as it emits.
The company — which has 12,000 employees and generated $3.4 billion in revenue last year — plans to continue cutting emissions across its expansive operation while investing in renewable energy. This means slashing absolute emissions from its operations by 50 percent by 2030 and cutting indirect emissions from business travel and waste that is generated within operations.
“It was a really comprehensive roll out of the strategy with this multi-pronged initiative built into it,” Steelcase Energy, Climate and Renewables Supervisor Maeve Tropf told MiBiz. “It’s a huge feat for the company — a historic moment. Everyone internally is incredibly excited about it and ready to get to work. We know there is a lot of work ahead.”
Other measures Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) plotted out to achieve carbon negative status include advocating for climate and energy policy and empowering employees and suppliers to champion the effort of transition to a low carbon economy.
“We’re super excited to be taking suppliers along with us on this journey,” Tropf said. “We’ll be reaching out to our supply chain and asking suppliers from both purchases and transportation/logistics to set their own science-based targets. Hopefully it will have this ripple effect.”
The concept of business sustainability is nothing new to Steelcase. In fact, furniture manufacturers in West Michigan have been key players in the business sustainability movement throughout the state for decades, with Steelcase standing at the forefront. Nationwide, the corporate sector has been a key driver of renewable energy development through power purchase agreements.
“This seems like a very natural progression for the company, but even beyond that, it’s woven into our DNA,” Tropf said. “We’re founded by environmentalist founders. One of our core values is to protect the environment. So, really, even outside of sustainability, this is just a paramount issue for the company all together.”