Why not make green by going green? Improving your store’s energy efficiency can not only help the environment, it can also boost your profits. According to Alyssa Quarforth, program manager for commercial properties at Washington, D.C.–based Energy Star, a division of the Environmental Protection Agency, a 10 percent reduction in energy costs can boost net profit margins by 16 percent. That’s equivalent to a $44-per-year increase in sales per square foot at the average supermarket. Here are some ways to lower your store’s energy use and cash in on your eco-efforts.
1 | Track energy performance.
“Information is very empowering,” Quarforth says. Understand how your store stacks up against the competition and see what you can do better. Energy Star offers an online Portfolio Manager that can track your store’s energy use, give it a rating against other groceries in the country and help you set baselines and goals. Try the free application at energy star.gov/istar/pmpam.
2 | Establish a maintenance program.
Quarforth suggests taking an inventory of your building to note how it uses energy, and then have regular meetings with your maintenance person to discuss goals. Some basics: Make sure filters are changed regularly, thermostats are calibrated, temperatures are reading correctly and lights are off when no one is in the building.
3 | Install sensors.
Lighting and plug loads (anything plugged into a wall) constantly suck up energy. Install sensors that turn lights off when no one is in an aisle, or make sure electronics are unplugged when not in use to quickly trim energy costs.
4 | Upgrade lighting.
Lighting accounts for 23 percent of an average store’s electric energy. New LED lighting is now surpassing the quality and efficiency of fluorescent and incandescent lights, and LED lighting can be used in place of standard aisle lighting or anywhere else in your store.
5 | Monitor refrigeration
systems. According to Energy Star, what sets grocery stores apart from other food-sales businesses is the high dependence on refrigeration. Make sure to keep fridge and freezer doors shut, maintain appropriate temperature settings, clean cooling coils, check door seals and maintain equipment. Also, follow the example of other stores’ energy-saving success stories: Go to energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=grocery.sb_grocery to see case studies of various stores nationwide.