In 2015, Target, one of the top US corporate solar power installers for 5 straight years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), committed to achieving 500 solar power installations by 2020. In December of 2019, Target announced that it reached its goal (a little bit ahead of schedule). Target completed its 500th rooftop solar installation in California, appropriately enough considering that it is the #1 state in the country for solar power.
“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. 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.” — John Leisen, VP of Property Management, Target.
Target’s 500th solar roof installation took place in Napa, California. In total, the solar installations helped Target add more than 240 megawatts of solar across their buildings. This equals the power needed for nearly 46,000 homes in the US. Target chose solar because it wants to meet energy needs in a way that is good for the communities where it operates and the environment while also reducing the cost of its energy. One rooftop solar installation generates enough energy to offset between 15% and 40% of one of Target’s property’s energy needs.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, says that Target has led the way on corporate solar adoption for years. It has helped to create a cultural shift in how top companies power their operations. “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.”
Target is also involved in other projects that are focused on creating a sustainable future. It is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to build on existing water management aspirations. Target believes that clean, drinkable water and sanitation are human rights and should be accessible for all. It used WWF’s water risk assessment to review its water use reduction efforts across its manufacturing supply chain, stores and distribution facilities. This helps it create a holistic approach that acknowledges water as part of a bigger global system of megatrends.
Target also wants to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2022. Cotton is used in many of its products — who hasn’t gotten a cute shirt at Target? Target is actually one of the largest users of cotton in the United States.
Target also points out that there really isn’t an industry-standard definition for “sustainable cotton,” so Target created its own. “To us, sustainable production uses water and chemicals as efficiently as possible, with methods that support soil health, and promotes ethical working conditions.”
Another thing Target is working on is a chemical strategy that will be “one of the most comprehensive in the US retail industry,” according to Jennifer Silberman, chief sustainability officer at Target. Usually, when one thinks of Target, we don’t think of chemistry, but chemicals are in almost everything we do. Our bodies are even made up of them. Its grocery brand, Simply Balanced is one way Target is integrating this chemical strategy with policies and goals for its products.
It’s great to see Target taking on issues such as sustainability. All corporations should, in my opinion, do something to contribute to our environment in a positive way. I really like the idea of Target taking on the cotton industry and creating a definition for sustainable cotton. We often take for granted the things in our day-to-day lives — our clothing, our toothbrushes — that we use and interact with every day. We don’t think about where they come from or how they get to us. These steps matter, and it’s great to see Target aiming to impact the way some of these steps are taken.