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Clif Bar Raises the Bar for Sustainability

Credits: ©2011 Clif Bar & Company

What happens when a company actively pursues sustainability using five bottom lines: its business, its brands, its people, its community and the planet? One thing is certain for Clif Bar & Company – its headquarters green building has been greened from the ground to the sky by renovating an older warehouse and placing a huge solar array on the roof. American snack food producer Clif Bar is cooking up its all-natural food bars with the power of the sun now that the company has installed the largest smart solar array in North America. The 530-kilowatt array at Clif Bar’s green-designed Emeryville, California, headquarters features more than 1,900 Suntech 270-watt solar modules. Clif Bar’s array is expected to generate six to eight percent more power than a standard array due to its built-in Tigo Energy Maximizer Solution. Tigo’s product leverages control at the module level to increase panel monitoring and safety, and this is the first distributed power electronics system to be deployed on a substantial commercial project (as of February 2011). Clif Bar’s green building, designed by ZGF Architects, facilitates its business and manufacturing goals, contributes to the health of its employees and provides a strong community connector to the city of Emeryville. In addition to the latest solar technology, the building includes an on-site childcare center, a 40-foot bouldering wall and the use of many repurposed materials from shipping container wood to blue jeans that support the company’s sustainability mission and unique company culture. (Scroll to bottom for additional resources)


Clif Bar Solar Array

Clif Bar & Company - American maker of all-natural snacks - works out of a 115,000 square foot energy-efficient headquarters in Emeryville, California, with an advanced 530 kilowatt “smart-solar” photovoltaic system on the roof and parking structure. ©2011 Clif Bar & Co.

Clif Bar’s Sustainable Building: Rooftop Solar to Recycled Denim
Clif Bar & Company has the largest “smart” solar array in North America on its headquarters roof and parking structure, providing nearly 100 percent of the office electricity needs. Additional solar thermal panels on the headquarters roof provide 70 percent of the heat needed for hot water. The solar power, in addition to energy conservation efforts in its R & D kitchen and energy-efficient office equipment, makes Clif Bar & Company’s new headquarters one of the first buildings in the state to comply with the 2008 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Designe dby ZGF Architects, to further soak up the California sun, the building’s “biophilic” interior design brings the outside world into the work space. Four atrium gardens integrated into the interior of the office space bring sunlight and rain to the plants and greenery in the gardens. The glass garden walls, plus extensive exterior and clerestory windows, flood the open floor plan with natural light. Reused materials can be found throughout the new headquarters. Much of the wood was reclaimed from sources such as container crates, railroad ties and barns, while recycled denim was used to make 380 sound-absorbing panels. Repurposed bikes, kayaks, snowboards and surfboards serve as artwork suspended from the ceiling. Clif Bar & Company’s new headquarters was built by San Francisco-based DPR Construction and designed by ZGF Architects, based in Portland, Ore. Earlier this year, Architect Magazine named ZGF Architects one of the nation’s top 10 green architect firms. The building houses a 6,700 square foot childcare center. The center consists of specially designed inside and outside areas for five distinct age groups, from infants to five year olds. A music room, fitness toys (“pint-sized” treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike and bench press) and outdoor playground help to provide kids with a balance of structured- and free-time. An expanded wellness center features a weight room with a 40-foot bouldering wall, a yoga room, dance studio, shower/locker facilities, access to five on-site fitness trainers and two massage rooms. On-site bike parking, two massage rooms and a hair salon are also available. Organic breakfast and lunch meals are provided in Kali’s Kitchen, an employee-operated lunch room that sources organic ingredients from regional farms. Adding to the community feel of the space is a theater which houses an elevated stage, customizable lighting, professional sound board and seating for 350 people.

Clif Bar & Company Environmental & Community Sustainability
Clif Bar & Company uses organic ingredients in all their products. All CLIF BARS do not contain ingredients sourced from GMOs, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. CLIF BARS are also certified kosher and free of animal products. In 2001, Clif Bar formalized its commitment to environmental sustainability. The company transitioned to organic ingredients, eliminated shrink-wrap (which saved 90,000 pounds of plastic and $400,000 annually), and invested in wind energy to offset fossil fuel usage. In 2006, Clif Bar announced their “Cool Commute” program, which gives employees $6,500 (taxed) to switch to bio-diesel or high-mileage hybrid cars to reduce their fuel consumption. As a bio-diesel incentive program, "Cool Commute" was the first of its type nationwide. In 2008, the company added a bike incentive to the Cool Commute Program providing employees up to $500 to purchase a commuter bike or to make commute friendly retrofits to an existing bike. In May 2010, Clif Bar announced the CLIF BAR 2 Mile Challenge, which aims to promote biking over driving for distances of two miles or less. The program donates $25,000 each to three charities (The Alliance for Biking and Walking, Trips for Kids, and the Alliance for Climate Education) with an additional $25,000 bonus to the charity that receives the most votes from people who pledged to participate in the program. Additionally in 2008, the company launched the Cool Home Program which provides employees up to $1,000 annually to make eco-improvement to their homes such as insulation, solar panel installation, new windows, etc. In April 2009, Clif Bar joined BICEP, a coalition of 18 companies (which includes Nike, eBay and The North Face) with the goal of passing progressive climate and energy legislation. In 2010 Clif Bar committed $500,000 to promote organic seed research and conserve crop genetic diversity. The company facilities include a gym, rock climbing wall, yoga room, and massage rooms. Employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work, get two and a half hours of paid exercise each week, and have access to free personal training. In 2001, Clif Bar implemented "Project 2080", which had an initial goal of donating a collective 2,080 employee volunteer hours to community service (the number of hours worked by a full-time employee in a year). As the company has grown, so too has the annual target for community service hours; in 2009, Clif employees donated 5,621 hours. As an extension of “Project 2080”, Clif Bar initiated “In Good Company” in 2008. The program organizes employees across several companies to assist in community development in New Orleans.

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  Clif Bar Solar Press Release OCT 2010 (209 kb)


Clif Bar & Company (California, USA)

Tigo Energy (California, USA)

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (USA)