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REI Goodyear Distribution Center Recognized By Department Of Energy For Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy is recognizing outdoor company REI for its efforts to make a facility in Goodyear as efficient as possible.

REI built one of its distribution centers in Goodyear three years ago with a goal of being a net zero-energy facility.

Inside REI’s distribution center in Arizona is what looks like a gleaming, metal Willy Wonka-esque factory, if Willy Wonka's factory was a solar-powered, LED-lit facility of automated conveyor belts and bags of product whooshing through the air.

The 375,000 thousand square foot facility takes in millions of products from manufacturers and distributes them directly to customers and stores.

Director of Distribution Brad Ziker says the warehouse plan is open source.

“It's part of our effort to be sustainable is sharing what we do here. I think whether it’s with the Better Building program or through just showing them how we’ve done it, how we went about the process, we’re very open about that.”

The DOE recognized REI’s energy-efficient design through its  Better Buildings Challenge, directed by Maria Vargas.

“So my goal is to shine a light on who’s leading the way and what they’re doing, and why it’s working, so other people don’t have to start from the very beginning and figure this out all on their own.”

Vargas says up to 30 percent of the energy created for warehouses can be wasted. She expects that with the popularity of online shopping, more distribution centers like REI’s will be built in the future.

The warehouse's original factory design includes hundreds of robot shuttles that move products around.

“The kinds of things that were done in this distribution center are applicable across the country, they’re applicable to other distribution centers, but also other manufacturing facilities and other kinds of facilities,” Vargas said.

The warehouse includes a solar array and a self-contained, water-based cooling system, designed to use energy as efficiently as possible.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the distribution center's energy efficiency status. 

Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.