Ahead of schedule, Target hits an important climate goal

It's one of the greener corporations in the country, and it's not stopping.

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Target set a goal of installing solar panels on 500 of its stores by 2020 back in 2015, and the company recently announced it achieved that goal. The retail chain completed its 500th installation at a store in Napa, California.

This accomplishment will help Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, get closer to its goal of having 100 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2030, which the company announced it aimed to do last summer. Target is already a quarter of the way to achieving that goal.

John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target, said in a statement that the company is committed to sustainability.

“At Target, we’re committed to making our operations even more sustainable to create a better future for our guests, team members and the planet,” Leisen said. “Ambitious energy goals have helped us accelerate our progress and reach major milestones. And we’ll continue to invest in technologies, partners and resources to help us achieve even more.”

These solar panel installations will help the Minneapolis-based company generate over 240 megawatts of energy from renewable sources. The company says this is not only good for the environment but will help it reduce its energy costs.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in a statement that Target has been a leader in adopting renewable energy.

“For years, Target has led the way on corporate solar adoption, helping to create a cultural shift in how top companies power their operations,” Hopper said. “Companies such as Target have the power to make lasting change and we’re thrilled to see Target double down on their commitment to solar energy.”

The SEIA has listed Target as one of the top U.S. corporate installers for five years in a row. The only two companies that are currently ahead of Target on that list are Amazon and Apple.

This isn’t the only way Target is working to become more sustainable. The company is trying to achieve a goal it set in 2017 of only producing products with 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2022. Target is one of the largest purchasers of cotton in the United States.

On top of that, Target teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2018 to work on improving water management. The company is attempting to reduce how much water it wastes.

See also: Solar panels waste a lot of energy. Scientists have a plan to capture it.

Sheila Bonini, senior vice president, private sector engagement at WWF, explained at the time that freshwater is a valuable resource that companies like Target can work to preserve.

“Freshwater resources are more precious and vulnerable than people realize. Challenges, such as climate change, population growth, changing consumption patterns, are putting our freshwater systems increasingly at risk, and the need for action to address these issues is abundantly clear,” Bonini said. “Target’s approach provides a holistic vision to drive solutions that will bring us closer to a sustainable and water-secure future.”

The company’s competition is also taking solar energy seriously. Kohl’s is also working to reduce its environmental impact, with a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% 2024. Some have hit snags.Walmart’s plan to source 35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 ran into problems in 2019 when some of the Tesla solar panels it had installed started fires.

Considering Target has nearly 2,000 stores and is one of the largest retailers in the United States, efforts like this can have a major impact. Of course, the world isn’t just Target: environmental goals set by the United Nations will need companies and governments across the globe. But the more companies that buy in on renewables, the better.

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