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5. ‘Green Power’ Strategies: Understanding the Growing Market for RECs

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In this independent on-demand briefing, Kathy Loftus of Whole Foods, the EPA's Green Power Partner of the Year,  discusses how they have incorporated RECs into its sustainability strategy an how they are communicating their REC purchases.  Steve McDougal of 3Degrees and Eric Paul of AltaTerra explain the basics of RECs, best practices for purchasing, and the future of the REC market.   

Corporate and Institutional ‘Green Power’ Strategies:
Understanding the Growing Market for Renewable Energy Certificates

Kathy Loftus, Global Leader for Sustainable Engineering, Maintenance and Energy Management, Whole Foods Market
Steve McDougal, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, 3 Degrees
Don Bray, President, AltaTerra Research


To meet sustainability goals, appeal to green consumers, improve employee relations and address investors’ environmental concerns, corporations and other institutions are increasingly purchasing renewable energy. Often they are doing so in the form of voluntary renewable energy certificates (RECs), which represent the generation and delivery of green power to the U.S. grid. In fact, from 2005 to 2009, commercial and institutional REC purchases increased more than 350%. And, as stakeholder demands for corporate sustainability grows, many corporations and institutions customers are trying to better understand how their organizations can utilize RECs, and participate in the REC market.

In this briefing, leading sustainability and green power experts will cover the basics of voluntary renewable energy certificates, offer best practices for purchasing RECs, review best practices for communicating the impact of renewable energy purchases to stakeholders, and discuss the future of the REC market. Whole Foods Market, a national grocery chain, has utilized RECs to offset 100% of their purchased electricity use. Whole Foods is the third-largest RECs purchaser in the U.S. purchasing more than 750 million kWh of green power annually. Whole Foods Market was recognized for their leadership and impact on the green power market receiving the EPA’s Green Power Partner of the Year award for the third time in 2010.

RECs arethe primary method of acquiring green power for commercial customers, accounting for more than 80% of their renewable energy purchases. Key questions among potential corporate and institutional buyers include:

  • How do RECs lead to the development of new renewable energy projects?
  • How can your organization participate in the REC market?
  • What percentage of electricity should you match with renewable energy purchases?
  • How do you effectively integrate renewable energy purchases into your sustainability strategy?
  • What is the relationship between off-site renewable energy purchases and on-site renewable energy installations?
  • How do you effectively communicate the impact of your renewable energy purchase to stakeholders, and prevent accusations of "greenwashing”?

Providing a customer perspective, Kathy Loftus from Whole Foods Market will discuss how the company has incorporated RECs into its corporate sustainability strategy, what factors they considered when buying RECs, and how the impact of their renewable energy purchase is communicated to stakeholders. She will also discuss the benefits their organization has realized from purchasing RECs, including how RECs are supporting their green building, greenhouse gas emission reporting and reduction and other sustainability efforts.

Steve McDougal, co-founder of 3Degrees, will present a high-level discussion on the basics of purchasing RECs and answer large institutional buyers’ most commonly asked questions:

  • How do RECs help organizations realize their sustainability objectives?
  • What is the difference between the compliance and voluntary REC markets?
  • What are current REC prices? How are REC prices set? How do prices vary by technology and region?
  • What other criteria do customers need to consider when purchasing RECs?
  • How do RECs compare to other green power purchasing options and on-site renewable generation?

Don Bray, president of AltaTerra Research, will start the briefing by introducing and providing an overview on renewable energy certificates and discuss who is purchasing RECs and why.


Renewable energy certificates (RECs), also known as renewable energy credits or green tags, represent the environmental attributes associated with clean energy generation unbundled from the commodity electricity. Each REC represents the generation and delivery of one megawatt-hour of renewable energy to the power grid. Examples of the resources used to generate renewable energy include wind, solar, biomass, and low-impact hydro.

Who Should Attend

  • Corporate and institutional sustainability staff and managers
  • Corporate and institutional facilities and energy managers
  • Regulatory and PR staffers
  • Sustainable business professionals
  • Organizations considering purchasing green power or installing renewable energy
  • Consultants

About the Presenters

Kathy Loftus is the global leader for sustainable engineering, maintenance and energy management at Whole Foods Market. Ms.Loftus is an engineer and coordinates strategic energy procurement, efficiency upgrades, engineering and maintenance best practices, and green building efforts for the Whole Foods Market chain. Her work includes coordinating program partnerships and efforts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Prior to joining Whole Foods, Ms. Loftus was director of business development for EnerNOC Inc., where she worked with commercial, industrial and institutional national accounts to implement improved energy management strategies across their diverse facility portfolios. She also spent eight years as director of energy and environmental management for Shaw's Supermarkets Inc., where she was active in the EPA Energy Star and Green Power Partners Programs, and the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) retail advisory committee.

Steve McDougal is 3Degrees’ co-founder and vice president of marketing and business development, Steve leads the firm’sGreen Power and Carbon Balancing Servicesgroup and supervises its marketing efforts across the U.S.

In 2007, Steve led the formation of 3Degrees, a spin-off of 3 Phases Energy. Before this, Steve served from 2003 to 2006 as director of business development at 3 Phases Energy. During this time, Steve led national direct sales and marketing efforts to large Fortune 500 corporations, successfully adding many household name brand companies to the firm’s list of green power customers.

Steve was honored at the 10th National Green Power Marketing Conference in 2005, when he accepted the Green Power Beacon Award in recognition of his team’s ground-breaking work building large-scale corporate demand for green energy in the U.S.

Don Bray is co-founder and President of AltaTerra Research. He has led a broad range of market research and consulting engagements in corporate sustainability, green IT, carbon management, and renewable energy systems. He is a frequent author, speaker, and discussion moderator on emerging solutions for energy efficiency and enterprise sustainability. Prior to AltaTerra, Don was a Managing Partner with Accenture. Over 22 years with the firm, he led numerous business consulting and systems integration engagements with leading technology companies, and played an instrumental role in building Accenture’s Silicon Valley practice. Don earned his master's in engineering management from Stanford University, and a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California at Davis.

Reference Materials

You will receive a full copy of the presentation slides in PDF format and on-demand access to an event recording.



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About AltaTerra Research Briefings

AltaTerra Research Briefings are designed to provide independent professional education on critical market developments in efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable business. Recognized experts from the business community, institutions, and government share information and insights in an accessible conference session format that is interactive and non-sponsored (unless otherwise specified). Briefings typically begin with an overview, then move into greater detail, and close with a moderated audience question-and-answer (Q&A) period. After the live briefing, on-demand access to the recording, including audio and presentations, is provided to registrants and available for sale.

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