Sustainability Blog

Annie’s Inc. is a subsidiary of General Mills, headquartered in Berkeley, California.  Annie's is known for their Mac and Cheese and commitment to organic ingredients.  Their 2016 Sustainability Report states that 60 million pounds of organic ingredients were purchased and 88% of Annie’s sales came from “Certified Organic” or “Made with Organic”  products.  In addition, Annie’s announced a plan to “add ~20 farms and ~3,000 acres of domestic organic dairy production over the next 3 years” as part of their Organic Valley partnership.

Tiffany Tran is a Senior Sustainability Analyst with Annie’s and has been working on their sustainability initiatives over the past two years.  Tran has recently been working on Annie’s Responsible Manufacturing program.  Per their 2016 report, 71% of manufacturers disclosed their environmental impacts with Annie’s.  Auditing suppliers allows an organization to address a larger scope of environmental impact.  In addition, Annie’s is evaluating their packaging strategy to use less material and incorporate more recycled content with 80% of products carrying the How2Recycle label.  

Tran spearheaded an energy efficiency project at their office headquarters in April 2016.  The inspiration for this project came from an after-hours office visit.  According to Tran:

“I was in the office over the weekend and I could hear the HVAC systems running.  That led to us conducting an energy audit.  We discovered that a few of the systems, which were supposed to be turned off during non-occupancy hours, were running 24/7.  We addressed this issue with programmable wireless thermostats that ensured the systems turned off outside of office hours.”

Tiffany and her team subsequently implemented two additional initiatives: raising the server room’s cooling temperature and installing time clocks for ceiling fans.  These initiatives, combined with the wireless thermostat, reduced electricity usage 30% and natural gas 68% in a one year period.  Their efforts won Net Impact’s 2016 “Climate Disruptors” award.

Energy audits can be conducted by any member of an organization and do not have to be the responsibility of facilities managers or building owners in the case of leasing.  Audits may identify positive measures ranging from simply turning the lights off to installing solar panels.  The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provides a free Office Energy Checklist with techniques to reduce the energy load of an office--simultaneously reducing environmental impacts and saving money for an organization.