At Graybar, sustainability is an expression of the company’s core values and its long-term view. The company’s sustainability plan includes acting as a responsible steward of its resources, reducing its impact on the environment, and providing sustainable solutions in the marketplace. As Graybar strives to maintain a strong and healthy company for future generations, it has taken action to better protect the environment by investing in its facilities and updating its business practices. These factors have resulted in what is believed to be the most sustainable year in Graybar history.
Providing Sustainable Solutions in the Marketplace
Graybar’s commitment to sustainability is apparent in Graybar PowerSmart®, a comprehensive set of energy-saving solutions the company offers its customers, which was significantly expanded in 2012. Graybar can perform energy audits and provide solutions that can help customers reduce operating expenses and boost sustainability. The solutions within Graybar PowerSmart® are designed to help customers improve their energy efficiency in several ways, including building automation and controls, power management and critical power, lighting and lighting controls and increased use of renewables. Graybar can leverage applicable utility rebates to help reduce costs, focus on meeting its customers’ return on investment goals and can deliver increased energy savings.
Graybar also offers a wide range of customer services that support sustainability, including recycling programs for lamps, ballasts and batteries, as well as programs for reducing and recycling packing materials.
Graybar made significant strides in greening some of its own facilities, old and new, in 2012. Graybar reevaluated its 30-year-old headquarters in St. Louis to see where it could improve energy efficiencies to reduce both operating costs and the impact on the environment. Graybar used its own solutions to perform energy and lighting audits to determine the energy use of its headquarters facility. Lighting specialists calculated baseline performance and identified areas where energy improvements could be made. The audits revealed opportunities to implement energy-saving lighting solutions with lighting controls, daylight-harvesting technologies and updated fixtures. Graybar also completed a full HVAC retro-commission using third party contractors, which optimized automation settings, balanced the HVAC components, and implemented variable speed drives. So far, electric utility consumption has been reduced by 19 percent and natural gas utility usage was reduced by 24 percent in this facility as compared to comparable periods in 2011. The building became Energy Star® certified in 2012. Graybar also cultivated about one acre of native prairie at another St. Louis facility, reducing the need for maintenance and enhancing the natural landscape.
Another major green milestone occurred in Tucson, Ariz., where Graybar opened its first facility built to Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED®) standards. The Tucson facility, which is LEED® Gold certified, demonstrates real-life application of sustainable products and solutions that Graybar provides to customers. The facility showcases technologically advanced and environmentally friendly products, including:
- 100 percent motion-activated warehouse lighting with efficient high-output T5 fluorescent lights to reduce energy
- Energy efficient and long-lasting LED lighting for parking and office areas
- A programmable, facility-wide lighting control and task lighting system, which boosts energy efficiency and employee productivity
- Daylight harvesting sensors, which automatically reduce artificial light levels based on daylight availability
- A 166kW solar power-generation system, which meets 88 percent of the building’s power needs
- Real-time solar energy production monitors, which track and reroute energy based on need
- Three highly efficient electric vehicle charging stations, which can charge vehicles in three to six hours
Graybar has also benchmarked all of its facilities nationwide by calculating an unaudited Energy Star® score. This data can be used to focus efforts towards improving energy consumption.
Extending Environmental Stewardship
Graybar’s employees are also doing their part to help green the company. In 2012, Graybar expanded its sustainability program by identifying four areas within the company that are touched by sustainability. Graybar identified these links as the “Four Spheres of Influence,” which include internal operations, external sales and marketing, supply chain management and employee training and human resources. The corporate Green Team selected individual champions to pilot programs and expand sustainability efforts in each sphere. For example, the Employee Training and Human Resources Sphere saw the development and launch of an online training module that educated every Graybar employee nationwide on the basics of sustainability, from general concepts to strategies they can use at both work and home.
Graybar strives to create an atmosphere that encourages sustainability and reduces the company’s impact on the environment. At two of its corporate offices in St. Louis, Graybar adopted single-stream recycling in an effort to reduce waste. This simple change resulted in an estimated 65 percent landfill diversion rate. This program was expanded to the company’s Regional Service Centers as well as the St. Louis District and branch locations. These additional sites have achieved an estimated landfill diversion rate in excess of 55 percent while simultaneously reducing operational expenses.
Over the past five years, Graybar has reduced greenhouse gas emissions of its automobile fleet by approximately 25 percent. The company recently selected the fuel-efficient 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Fusion Hybrid as the primary vehicles for its leased car program. In addition, Graybar strives to route its delivery trucks in the most efficient manner, which can reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Graybar was even named a “Hero of the Planet” by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2012, further validating the company’s sustainability programs.
Graybar is proud of current sustainability efforts and will continue to innovate ways to make business strong and sustainable for future generations while doing its part to preserve the environment. It’s how Graybar works to the advantage of its employees, manufacturers, customers, the community, and the environment.