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TEEA 2015 Winner: Innovative Operations/Management

Management-prioritized stewardship projects establish company as statewide leader.

One hundred and ten years after the opening of a little grocery store in Kerrville, H-E-B has established itself as one of the largest privately held companies in Texas. With stores from Laredo to Houston and McAllen to Waxahachie, its strategies for conservation and environmental stewardship have the potential to impact nearly all corners of the state.

H-E-B stands above most with a recycling track record alone that spans the last 30 years. The company’s focus is broad—incorporating energy and water conservation in many of its stores and selecting some locations to serve as testing sites for new technologies. In this way, they are able to identify the feasibility of expanding the use of equipment like water-cooled, self-contained refrigerated cases or propane-cooled, energy-efficient freezers. Going beyond just a testing phase, H-E-B currently has six LEED-certified stores and has seen a 12 percent decrease per square foot across all stores in energy use over the last decade.

Understanding that not all efforts can be applied at each store, the company has worked to tailor conservation practices to the region. In San Antonio, border, and Gulf Coast locations, H-E-B installed recycling units at car washes, continuously cleaning and reclaiming used water for a reduction in water use of 73–80 percent. Austin, San Antonio, and Houston stores give customers access to electric vehicle charging and H-E-B’s “Made in Texas” line offers the opportunity for Texans to shop locally wherever they might be.

Outside of in-store efforts, H-E-B donates 5 percent of pre-tax profits back to the communities, including contributions to environmentally focused nonprofit organizations such as Keep Texas Beautiful and the Nature Conservancy. Because its commitment to take care of Texas is woven into the fibers of its operations, HEB has served and will continue to serve as an environmental leader across the state.