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Case Study: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Multi-Year Carbon Offset Purchase

Since its humble beginnings as a Vermont coffee shop, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), now
with $2.6 billion in sales, has achieved industry leadership through its “Brewing a Better World” initiative
that blends corporate social responsibility with high quality coffee products.

Among its sustainable practices, GMCR has pledged to mitigate 100% of the measured greenhouse gas emissions that they cannot avoid through onsite reductions from energy efficiency and renewable energy use. For its CSR efforts, GMCR has been named one of Corporate Responsibility Magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens," Forbes and Audit Integrity’s “100 Most Trustworthy Companies,” and CRO Magazine's “2010 Responsible CEO of the Year.”

Since 2003, NativeEnergy has helped GMCR achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals. With our
Help Build™ carbon offsets, GMCR helped fund the Alex Little Soldier Wind Turbine, one of the first
Native American-owned turbines in the U.S. Since then, GMCR has helped build more than 11
NativeEnergy projects.

"We have made a conscious decision to buy forward stream offsets because our purchase helps
to build new projects that need up-front funding to be built. This ensures that our purchases make
a difference by enabling new project construction. While these projects reduce emissions as they operate over time, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are a long-term problem, and helping to
build clean infrastructure is an essential part of the solution.”

– GMCR, 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report

1. The Challenge

In 2003, the sustainability team at GMCR faced a core dilemma: their company’s growth had increased their carbon footprint. GMCR implemented strong efficiency and carbon management efforts, but recognized that due to current limits, part of the carbon footprint would remain. They needed to find a genuine, socially-conscious way to reduce these emissions.

To take a continued step toward reduction, GMCR committed to a single purchase of offsets from the award-winning Greensburg Wind Farm in March 2009. As a Greensburg Charter Supporter, GMCR provided critical upfront funding for the 12.5 MW wind farm that helps a tornado-ravaged community rebuild as the “greenest town in America.”

Paul Comey, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at GMCR, expressed cautious interest:

“When NativeEnergy first brought the Greensburg project to us, we were intrigued because the devastation had been pretty catastrophic. The thought of a totally renewable city really intrigued us. As I thought about what part of our offset portfolio Greensburg should be, I was thinking it probably should not be a major part.”

2. The Solution

As a Charter Supporter, Mr. Comey was able to attend the Greensburg groundbreaking ceremony in October of 2009. While there, he signed a turbine blade, visited with the community members and NativeEnergy staff, and even built a relationship with the local Green Bean Coffee Co., which now serves GMCR coffee.

After attending the ceremony, Paul began to see how Greensburg could further the company’s pledge on addressing climate change.

“I have got to say, after coming to the groundbreaking and seeing what’s going on in Greensburg, I’ve rethought things. I really want to push forward and make Greensburg a major part of our carbon offset portfolio.  What the people are doing here—the motivation, the way folks are working together—is a model for how we can go forward in the country, and at Green Mountain Coffee we want to be a leader in advancing that model.”

In late 2009 and early 2010, GMCR decided to play a bigger role in the Greensburg Wind Farm and agreed to a multi-year contract for over 50 percent of the offsets from the project.

3. The Results

By choosing a three-year contract for Greensburg, GMCR was able to build a known price for carbon into their budgets, which has several benefits:

  • It enables GMCR to play a larger role in helping build the Greensburg Wind Farm.
  • It allows GMCR to accomplish the pledge they made to mitigate their effect on climate change.
  • It achieves a greater goal for GMCR by supporting local communities.

Recognized for its strong community benefits, the Greensburg Wind Farm was named 2011 “Wind Project of the Year” by Renewable Energy World. As Mike Dupee, VP of corporate social responsibility, described after attending the project dedication ceremony in the spring of 2010:

“This project had a special appeal because of the community impact as well… The Greensburg community really went through a tough time two or three years ago. They’ve transformed the community into what they call ‘the greenest town in America’ and these, I think, are the best kind of offsets where you create the environmental benefit and create some serious social and community values.”

With NativeEnergy carbon offsets, GMCR was able to reduce its corporate greenhouse gas emissions and directly help build a community-based project that that is creating a better world.