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Lululemon Signs onto Renewable Energy

Lululemon Athletica will meet its goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity across its direct operations in North America this year.

Enel Green Power North America announced Wednesday it had signed a 15-megawatt virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with the Vancouver yoga brand. Through the VPPA— the athletic apparel company’s first—it will buy the electricity delivered to the grid by a portion of an upcoming wind farm in Texas. The energy purchased is equivalent to the electricity needed to power all 380 stores, six offices and five distribution centers Lululemon operates in North America, Enel said.

The deal, while on the one hand meeting Lululemon’s renewable energy commitment, also supports the opening of Enel’s Azure Sky Wind and Storage project in Throckmorton County, Texas. The facility, slated to be operational in the first half of next year, will include a 350-megawatt wind component and 137 megawatts of battery storage. It is expected to generate more than 1,300 gigawatt-hours each year. According to Enel, the project’s battery storage facility will be one of the world’s largest when it opens.

“The agreement with Lululemon… demonstrates how companies with a distributed operational footprint can leverage solutions like VPPAs to achieve their emissions reduction goals, while also supporting the addition of new renewable energy to the electric grid,” Georgios Papadimitriou, head of Enel Green Power in the U.S. and Canada, said in a statement.

This past October, Lululemon unveiled its first-ever “Impact Agenda.” The plan outlined 12 multi-year goals covering critical social and environmental issues. The roadmap consisted of broad commitments like “scal[ing] inclusive access to wellbeing tools” and “innovat[ing] sustainable materials.”

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Each of these general goals encompassed smaller, more specific targets—including the commitment to source 100 percent renewable electricity across its direct operations by 2021. For its operations globally—the VPPA deal Enel only covers North America—Lululemon plans to achieve this goal through the purchase of renewable energy credits.

Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald reiterated the company’s Impact Agenda as he discussed the retailer’s latest earnings with investors last week. Specifically, he highlighted the company’s budding partnerships with mushroom-based leather producer Mylo, carbon emissions recycling firm Lanzatech and its most recent partnership with Genomatica, a materials disruptor that transforms plant-based ingredients into materials like nylon.

“Science clearly shows the urgent need to act now,” Esther Speck, vice president of sustainable business and impact at Lululemon, said in a statement. “That’s why, among others, we’ve partnered with Enel Green Power North America to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and reduce our emissions footprint.”

Lululemon is not the first apparel retailer to partner with Enel. In 2019, Gap Inc. signed a 90-megawatt VPPA with the renewable energy company.  At the time the company said the deal would generate enough wind energy to power the equivalent of more than 1,500 Gap Inc. retail stores.