Warehouse & Distribution Centers

The operation of forklift and pallet trucks, lighting, air conditioning and refrigeration units that store food in our warehouses and redistribution centers requires considerable energy.

Refrigeration, lighting and battery charging operations provide our biggest energy savings potential. Refrigeration units typically account for half of our total energy consumption, with lighting and battery charging constituting the majority of the remaining load.

To ensure efficient operations, we regularly upgrade refrigeration equipment, freezer and cooler doors, dock doors, lighting and office air conditioning systems in our warehouses; take the opportunity to increase energy efficiency when one of our facilities expands or we reconfigure existing space; continually review building layouts to reduce the distance traveled by forklift trucks; and review all cost effective energy efficiency upgrade options during new and existing warehouse construction projects.


In 2006, we launched an Energy Management (EM) program focused on optimizing electrical energy usage at the Sysco Broadline, SYGMA and redistribution facilities that lie at the heart of our operations. This program aims to improve energy efficiency primarily by identifying and implementing more efficient processes and equipment upgrades. At the end of FY2016, 108 facilities were included in the EM program, representing approximately 85 percent of our warehouse footprint.

In FY2016, we implemented the following enhancements to the EM program to increase momentum in energy savings, which had plateaued in recent years. Our goal is to further reduce the energy intensity of locations in the program by 9.9 percent by the end of FY2018:

  • Complete 60 on-site facility commissioning events by the end of FY2018 which aim to identify savings and training opportunities. In FY2016, 23 facility commissions were completed and 19 are scheduled to be completed in FY2017. An example of the results of one facility’s commissioning event: its energy use prior to the commissioning event had been trending 5 percent higher than the prior year. Afterward, it experienced 10 percent+ energy savings;
  • Create and administer Sysco-specific energy efficiency training events and certification exam for facility personnel that focus on refrigeration and warehouse efficiency best practices. Five, one-day training sessions were held in FY2016 and were attended by associates from 95 different operating locations. Two additional training events will be held in FY2017;
  • Create and implement a three-tiered technical support plan for facilities that are not achieving monthly energy reduction goals. All facilities in the EM program have installed energy monitoring hardware to track real-time energy use. A baseline energy model establishes site-specific benchmarking that is monitored on an ongoing basis. If a facility shows evidence of negative efficiency trends, Energy Champions at the facility are notified, system checks are performed and if necessary, an action plan is created to return to baseline performance, or better.

As a result of our increased efforts, in FY2016 we reduced our energy intensity by 3.9 percent, exceeding our goals for both savings and energy use. At the end of FY2016, 108 facilities were included in the program and our EMP initiatives had generated cumulative energy savings of 42 percent since our baseline year of 2006, achieving more than $200 million in total avoided energy costs.


In FY2016, we also identified substantial energy and cost savings opportunities from installing LED lighting in all our warehouse freezers. In FY2017, we expect to complete installation at 15 operating locations and complete installation at all operating locations by the end of FY2019.


Our warehouses in Houston, TX; Central Texas; Long Island, NY; Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA and Riverside, CA use hydrogen-fuel-celled pallet trucks and forklift vehicles -- more than 700 fuel cell operated vehicles in all.

We have also installed 1 mega-watt (MW) solar systems at each of our Los Angeles and Riverside operating facilities. Reducing annual energy costs significantly, the combined systems contribute to annual energy and cost savings of more than 3.6 million kilowatt hours and approximately $350,000, respectively. That’s the equivalent of enough electricity to power nearly 400 homes each year!

During FY2016, we conducted a study of energy rates, incentives and solar output to identify additional locations to install solar systems. As a result, we expect to install an additional 1 MW system at our Sysco San Diego operating facility by the end of FY2017.


In FY2014, Sysco implemented a comprehensive recycling program across our U.S. Broadline facilities to remove recyclables from our solid waste stream, lower disposal costs and increase our recycling tonnage and revenues. We have designed a program that is "recycling-led" - meaning we consider recycling options first before discarding into landfills or incinerators.

A national "Green Team" is working to drive the success of the recycling program and ensure that Standard Operating Procedures are implemented across the organization. We expect to complete the full rollout of the program to all SYGMA, FreshPoint and meat companies by the end of 2017.

Through the end of June 2016, since inception of the program, we recycled nearly 19,000 tons of waste, saving approximately:

  • 317,146 trees;
  • 129 million gallons of water;
  • 8.6 million gallons of oil;
  • 10.9 million lbs. of air pollutants;
  • 76 million kilowatt hours,
  • 57,086 cubic yards of landfill space


Although they do not have a significant environmental footprint, we also aim to reduce impacts from our corporate offices including energy use, water and waste.

Sysco's Houston headquarters is LEED Gold rated by the U.S. Green Building Council for its environmental performance. Features include the use of natural light, high-efficiency glass to prevent heat loss and gain, low-energy lighting, more efficient ventilation systems and a heat reflective roof. Water-saving features include water saving fixtures in bathrooms and the use of native plants in the landscaping to reduce the need for watering. Office waste including paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastic is collected and recycled.

Similar features, including computer controlled air chillers, a heat reflective roof and automatic lighting sensors, have been installed at our Sysco Business Services (SBS) facility in Cypress, Texas.


Although we are not a significant water user, we do use water for refrigeration systems, washing vehicles and landscaping. We have identified water-saving opportunities including recycling water from vehicle washing stations and refrigeration units and using rainwater for landscaping at our offices. We have tested technology to capture and recycle condensation from cooling processes, and we plan to install this in future facilities.