You may hate its coffee, you may hate that it drove your favorite mom-n-pop coffeehouse out of business, you may just hate its bland ubiquity — but you gotta give Starbucks props for its latest initiative. Today the java giant announced that it will buy enough wind energy to meet 5 percent of electricity needs at its North American stores.

From the company’s press release (not yet up online, the slackers):

“Starbucks is mindful of the long-term implications that climate change has on the environment,” said Sandra Taylor, Starbucks senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Because the energy used at our retail stores makes up nearly 50 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions, this is a natural starting point for us. By supporting renewable energy sources we believe we are taking a step in the right direction and encourage other businesses to do the same.” …

The move to purchase renewable energy for its company-operated retail stores — generated by approximately 11 large-scale windmills — is estimated to cut emissions by two percent. It also catapults the company into the current top 25 U.S. purchasers of renewable energy.

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(That last fact strikes me as remarkable. Just by agreeing to buy 5 percent green power for its stores — not its production plants or business headquarters or whatnot — Starbucks will become one of the top 25 buyers of clean energy in the U.S.? There are that few big buyers? Damn.)

Sure, it would be easy enough to point out all the bad things Starbucks is doing, and all the good things it isn’t doing — environmentalists have made an art form out of skewering corporations for their sins and failings. But we aren’t so good at giving positive feedback. So from me, to the corporate coffee chain that I never patronize: Hey, nice work, keep it up.

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