Unpeeled: Why We Keep Looking Forward to a Sustainable Future

For some companies, sustainability is just an item to check off a to-do list. Executives begrudgingly incorporate energy-saving programs to avoid fines, and sweep any failed efforts under the rug. At Gills Onions, this narrative couldn’t be further from our truth. For 12 years, sustainability has been a life force of our facilities – always driving us to grow the best onion, with the lowest environmental footprint.

The Beginning of Sustainability at Gills

Every good program has a solid foundation of principles that help its participants reach their goals. From the beginning, our sustainability program has been anchored by three guiding pillars:

  • Efficiency and Conservation
  • Zero Waste
  • Energy Generation 

These three pillars have helped us eliminate a massive share of emissions over the years, and continue to give our team clarity when evaluating new projects and business decisions. 

Laura Hamman, Sustainability Manager, gave some more insight into this decision-making process. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘does this support our mission and vision?’” she says. “If there’s a dissonance, we have to dig a little deeper.”

This means that even initiatives that aren’t focused on sustainability are guided by the pillars of conservation, zero waste, and energy generation. Efficiency is always at the forefront of our minds!

How Our Sustainability Program Has Evolved

While our initial AERS program started us off on the right foot, technology has evolved over the years, and it is paramount that we continue to evolve as well. 

We’ve evolved in our sustainability efforts by partnering with a Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program. Over a two-year period, we saw a 21% reduction in annual energy consumption (nearly doubling our 12% goal). By working with Cascade Energy and the Southern California Edison Company in this SEM project, we were able to find new ways to approach efficiency in our facility. 

With the success of this two-year SEM program, we’ve been invited back for a second round, and we can’t wait to see more results.

Gills Sustainability Continues to Evolve

Like any initiative, constant assessment is a requirement for the success of our sustainability program. Making a few changes and then shifting to autopilot is simply not an option when it comes to energy conservation.

“It is a conscious decision,” says Hamman. “Something that worked in the past may no longer be a solution now, so being able to be nimble and adapt to new conditions is key.”

We are committed to continually evolving our program, and this next round of SEM will no doubt bring about new challenges and opportunities.

We’re thrilled to have the SEM team’s expertise on our side as we look at optimizing compressed air and refrigeration and working toward decarbonization in our fuel sources.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way?” Contact the Gills sales department to learn more.