Retail chains like Wal-Mart and Walgreens are working to reduce energy use as part of their overall business strategy to cut operational costs. In these cases, Wal-Mart Puerto Rico has opted to transition its parking lot lighting to LED technology, while Walgreens has installed a geothermal system. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) also released a new sustainability guide to help supermarkets better understand sustainability in the retail sector.
Walgreens claims to be the nation’s first drugstore chain location to install a geothermal energy system for heating and cooling. The geothermal system is expected to reduce energy use at the Oak Park, Ill., store by about 46 percent.
Last year, The Village of Oak Park passed an ordinance requiring any retailer that wants to build a commercial property within its village limits to evaluate geothermal energy as a way to encourage retailers to be more sustainable.
Walgreens worked with Indie Energy, which specializes in designing and installing geothermal systems. The company’s Smart Geothermal technology system is said to significantly cut heating and cooling costs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Indie EnergyLoop system controls the heat exchange system with the building, and monitors and optimizes the exchange in real-time to provide maximum energy efficiency. It also allows the store to provide online, real-time proof of carbon and cost savings through an informational kiosk at the store.
Other “green” features of the store include a dimming system for sales floor lighting, polished concrete floors made from recycled content, LED lighting, lavatory sinks made entirely from recycled content, and hand dryers powered by lights in the lavatory.
Wal-Mart Puerto Rico made the decision to transition its parking lot lighting to GE Evolve LED area lights as a way to cut energy use and maintenance costs. By rolling out the lighting retrofits across 22 stores, the retailer expects to save up to 48 percent in electricity costs for its parking lot lighting, while cutting maintenance costs by 75 percent.
Newly constructed Wal-Mart stores in Puerto Rico also will use the energy-efficient GE Evolve LED Area Lights.
The LED parking lot lighting also is expected to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Wal-Mart Puerto Rico’s operations. In 2009, the Puerto Rico operations saved more 8.0M kWh, or $1.4 million, thanks to energy-efficient initiatives.
On average, nearly one-third of a Wal-Mart store’s energy consumption is tied to lighting, which is a key reason for the giant retailer to look at parking lot lights as a way to cut costs. In 2009, the Wal-Mart Superstore in Leavenworth, Kansas, was the first retail store to feature LED parking lot site lighting, based on specifications developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Retailer Energy Alliance.
Helping supermarkets better understand sustainability in the retail sector, the FMI guide, “Sustainability on the Shelves — A Guide for Category Managers,” provides a framework to help supermarkets respond to their company’s and customers’ demands for more sustainable products.
The guide provides questions and tools to help buyers understand and verify sustainability claims and select more sustainable products. It covers sustainability issues in five categories:
–Grocery: cereal, boxed goods, canned goods
–General Merchandise: home cleaning, personal care
–Fresh: meat, dairy, produce
–Beverage: bottled water, soda, alcohol, non-perishable juice, coffee, tea
–Seafood: fresh, frozen