GHG Emissions In line with Grainger’s commitment to mitigating climate risk and reducing our carbon emissions, we have set an internal climate target. We plan to reduce our absolute scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using a 2018 baseline. This target follows the guidelines set forth by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and it ensures that our internal actions align with the global goal of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

We also consider our scope 3 emissions impact. Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain, including both upstream and downstream emissions. For Grainger, the majority of scope 3 impact resides in the downstream energy used by the products Grainger sells during their lifecycle or use phase. For example, scope 3 would include the amount of emissions produced by running an industrial air conditioner or recharging the battery of a cordless drill. We continue to build on our supplier engagement program to understand how best to address value chain decarbonization.  We have begun to identify material issues of the suppliers who are most impactful to our business, in part by communicating more proactively with these key suppliers via quarterly calls and active feedback channels.

Energy Grainger’s distribution centers (DCs) account for roughly 34 percent of our operational square footage. Inherent to this footprint is the opportunity for efficient energy management. Grainger currently has 5.3 megawatts of solar panel installations at our DCs. These solar installations have resulted in 6.1 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy produced in 2020. Grainger is currently planning to expand our solar footprint across key facilities, which will help us achieve GHG reductions, provide additional clean energy independence and financial incentives, and lower operational risks.

Building management systems (BMS) also help us achieve our energy efficiency goals. When operating optimally, BMS allow our facility managers to provide the proper working environment for team members, while minimizing Grainger’s energy costs. Currently, 26 of our facilities have either been built with or retrofitted with BMS. On average, Grainger has realized a 10–15 percent reduction in energy use and expenses at our facilities after installing BMS.

Grainger has been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2007 and we operate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facilities. We use the USGBC’s LEED certification program to guide best practices for the design, construction and operation of our facilities. Grainger currently maintains 8.1 million square feet of LEED certified space through 17 North American facilities, representing 36 percent of Grainger’s total square feet in North America. Examples of LEED certified buildings across our network include:

  • The first LEED certified building in the MRO industry  
  • The first LEED certified DC in Monterrey, Mexico 
  • The largest LEED-CI Platinum project of 2015  
  • The world’s first LEED V4 data center  
  • Our new LEED Gold 1.5 million square foot DC in Louisville, Kentucky

Overall, Grainger’s facilities account for about 95 percent of our annual energy use in North America.

Recycling & Waste We strive to implement innovation and efficiency to achieve our sustainability goals. This includes assessing expanded facility recycling initiatives and business collaborators to reduce or eliminate superfluous waste streams, close material loops and spur additional innovation.

We are continually improving the recycling rate in our U.S. DCs by standardizing recycling processes and sharing best practices across our network. For example, teams are trained to use a color-coded system to separate and bale materials such as cardboard, plastic wrap and metal, and are encouraged to share and test ideas for ongoing improvements. DC leadership receives monthly progress reports on recycling to help ensure transparency and accountability. Local DC facility managers also include recycling metrics as part of their annual performance goals. In 2020, our U.S. DCs recycled 89 percent of all waste leaving the facility.

Water We monitor and measure our water footprint and always look for opportunities to reduce usage, such as installing water-efficient fixtures and landscaping irrigation at our largest facilities. Grainger’s total water consumption in the U.S. in 2020 was 409,797 cubic meters, a decrease from a 2019 total of 474,648 cubic meters.