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Burlington Stores, an off-price retailer, wanted to reduce emissions through solar power at its retail store locations. Burlington's unique business model presents a challenge to installing on-site solar to assist in reaching its renewable energy commitment. The largest challenge is that most of the retailer's locations are leased, meaning (a) lease terms are shorter than typical Power Purchase Agreement contractual requirements and (b) in the majority of Burlington locations, the retailer does not have ownership of the roof, resulting in limited ability for capital enhancements. This required collaborating with landlords that were considering a similar sustainable journey.
Burlington currently works with two solar development partners, who help educate and engage landlords on Burlington’s behalf. The solar partners lease rooftop space from the landlords, allowing retailers like Burlington to participate in the PPA aligning with their lease agreements. Burlington can receive discounted utility rates for the renewable supply and avoid energy-cost volatility, as the renewable energy is provided over a longer contract period. In some cases there is also the ability to receive Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs, on top of locking in a reasonable cost.
To date, Burlington has 7 active solar locations at stores in California, with an additional 2 stores in the pipeline. There are more opportunities on the horizon in California, as well as future opportunities to expand in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. The arrays, for which Burlington currently has data, produce an estimated 2,000 megawatt-hours per year, which translates to avoiding roughly 1.4 million kilograms of carbon emissions (CO2e) per year.
Burlington’s landlords gain the opportunity to promote their organizations’ sustainability agendas, to avoid rising electricity costs and to contribute to common area electricity. Additionally, the rooftop solar arrays have become an attractive asset to new tenants. For Burlington, it’s an opportunity to procure renewable energy from a direct source and to retain RECs. Burlington also can access solar power without long-term financial obligations, as the solar-array deals align with the lengths of the lease terms in place.
About Burlington Stores: Burlington Stores, Inc., headquartered in New Jersey, is a nationally recognized off-price retailer with fiscal 2021 net sales of $9.3 billion. The company is a Fortune 500 company and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “BURL.” The company operated 893 stores as of the end of the third quarter of Fiscal 2022, in 46 states and Puerto Rico, principally under the name Burlington Stores. The company’s stores offer an extensive selection of in-season, fashion-focused merchandise at up to 60% off other retailers' prices, including women’s ready-to-wear apparel, menswear, youth apparel, baby, beauty, footwear, accessories, home, toys, gifts and coats.
John Hodges is Director of ESG, Climate and CSR at Burlington. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org