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How This Company Is Chopping Its CO2 Impact Without Changing Infrastructure


In the wake of a year of devastating hurricanes and wildfires, commercial property owners and tenants are hungry to find ways to reduce their environmental impact. In part, it is about doing the right thing. After all, buildings account for more than a third of American carbon dioxide emissions, which are linked to climate change and increasingly severe weather events. But also, being eco-friendly is simply good for business. 

To simultaneously reduce emissions and boost their consumer appeal, companies can work to make their own spaces more sustainable, adding green space or retrofitting with green tech or building materials to offset their carbon footprint. For businesses, programs that get customers directly involved are yielding big results. 

At convenience store chain 7-Eleven, a sustainability-focused customer loyalty program called RENEW has helped offset emissions for over 100 million gallons of fuel since the initiative launched in September 2017.

Powered by reduced emissions program provider GreenPrint, 7-Eleven RENEW works similarly to a traditional loyalty or rewards program: Customers are engaged to help meet a goal every time they patronize the business. But in this case, rather than earning points toward rewards for themselves, customers know they are doing something positive for the planet and their individual community — no dramatic lifestyle change required.

When customers purchase fuel at select 7-Eleven gas stations, the RENEW program calculates the tailpipe emissions for each gallon pumped, then invests proportionately in certified carbon-reduction projects, such as reforestation, greenscaping projects, wildlife protection and renewable energy initiatives. 

“We’re in an era of consumerism where people are concerned about their environmental impact, and they see sustainability as a service,” said Jason Murray, 7-Eleven vice president of operations for Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin and Northern California. “Companies that can make doing the right thing feel like an extra offering rather than an extra step for consumers are going to have a competitive advantage.” 

The first 7-Eleven locations to launch RENEW were in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Wisconsin. By the following September, the program had expanded to Northern California and Canada. Today, more than 230 fuel locations in the U.S. and Canada participate.

The program has taken on great significance for the 80 participating locations in California, where wildfires devastated more than 5 million acres of forest land over the past five years. 

The Camp Fire in Northern California burns in this Nov. 8, 2018, satellite image from NASA

After an estimated $11B in damage and losses for the Northern California community in 2018, local businesses are searching for ways to give back to their wildfire-ravaged communities. For 7-Eleven, the program was already in place; the company was able to leverage RENEW in that region, where it is now working with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant thousands of trees to support reforestation efforts. 

"Members of our staff, along with our customers, have experienced the devastation of these fires,” Murray said. “We are a part of the Northern California community and want to do everything we can to help revitalize this incredible area.”

Today, nearly half of Americans say they prioritize eco-friendly products when they shop, and 90% of millennials say they will patronize companies with social and environmental practices they trust. While retailers have been the first to see the business advantages of going green, apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants and retail developments could benefit from following suit.

“The success of 7-Eleven RENEW so far is proof that consumers want ways to give back,” Murray said. 

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and 7-Eleven RENEW. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.