Architecture & Design, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Furniture maker signs renewable energy deal

September 14, 2018
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Herman Miller Meridian Storage with Layout Studio Hive 1
A metal Meridian Storage set with Layout Studio Hive 1 furnishings. Courtesy Herman Miller

An office furniture company is offsetting its energy usage at a manufacturing campus in the region via a new renewable energy agreement.

Zeeland-based Herman Miller said this week it signed a four-year electricity supply agreement in March with Baltimore-based Constellation, a retail energy supplier.

Herman Miller’s agreement with Constellation will offset the energy usage at its Spring Lake manufacturing operation by supporting 100-percent renewable energy generation at the Harvest II wind project in Elkton in Huron County. Harvest II is managed by Exelon Generation, which is part of Constellation's parent company, Exelon Corporation.

“This project will help us meet our sustainability goals and doesn’t negatively impact our business,” said Gabe Wing, director of safety and sustainability, Herman Miller.

“We will continue to reduce our carbon footprint through energy-efficiency projects and supporting green energy projects like Harvest II where the market allows.”

Agreement details

Through the agreement, Herman Miller is opting into the Constellation Offsite Renewables (CORe) retail offering, which will match the manufacturing location’s annual electricity use with renewable energy certificates from the Harvest II wind project.

Herman Miller will continue to power its Spring Lake campus via a mix of renewable and traditional energy sources via Consumers Energy, but its energy payments will go to fund green energy production at Harvest II.

The agreement is expected to supply Herman Miller with about 25,000 megawatt hours of wind energy annually, which offsets enough energy from other sources to power more than 2,700 homes for one year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. That’s about double the number of homes in Spring Lake.

Herman Miller’s Spring Lake campus is responsible for about a quarter of Herman Miller’s global energy consumption and is the biggest consumer of electricity in Spring Lake.

Structured similarly to standard retail power agreements, CORe allows businesses to gain access to renewable energy without the hurdles that accompany off-site renewable power purchase agreements.

“The key feature of Constellation’s CORe program is that organizations can more easily purchase renewable energy at smaller scale and shorter terms than a traditional PPA,” Wing said. “Supporting programs like this will help make affordable renewables available to a much wider set of customers, which aligns with our sustainability goals.”

Earthright Strategy

This investment in renewable energy is one component of Herman Miller’s Earthright Strategy — a commitment to “creating a better world” by 2023.

In 2016, Herman Miller began a partnership with Zeeland-based Foresight, an energy management firm, to evaluate and implement procurement strategies across all facilities and business units to reduce costs and increase its renewable energy consumption.

The renewable wind energy contract with Constellation is one result of the partnership.

Spring Lake plant

Herman Miller’s Spring Lake campus is made up of two vertically integrated steel manufacturing facilities that fabricate, powder coat and assemble numerous products, including height-adjustable tables, filing and storage systems and desks.

Herman Miller

Founded in 1905, Herman Miller (Nasdaq: MLHR) is a global manufacturer of furnishings and offers related technologies and services.

In fiscal 2018, the company generated $2.38 billion in revenue and employed nearly 8,000 people worldwide.

Constellation

Constellation is a retail supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services for homes and businesses across the continental U.S.

Its family of retail businesses serves about 2 million residential, public sector and business customers.

Constellation is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). The parent reported 2017 revenues of about $33.5 billion and has more than 32,700 megawatts of owned capacity.

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