Industry Transformers

2015 will be a very exciting year for CSG’s prestigious content writers and industry experts

This year, our editors have unanimously agreed on a select collection of topics. Industry Transformers will highlight companies & executives who have managed to stay relevant in this ever changing environment. They will outline how businesses and people must evolve, adapt, and transform in order to become top leaders in the marketplace.

Enjoy our second topic: Green Initiatives

Apparel & Department Store Retailers

Kohl’s Corporation is committed to being green. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded its 2015 Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award to Kohl’s in recognition of the company’s continued leadership in protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency initiatives. In addition to this year’s award, Kohl’s received Sustained Excellence Awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as Partner of the Year Awards in 2010 and 2011.

Kohl’s has been an EPA Energy Star member since 1998. Kohl’s currently has more than 950 Energy Star-certified locations totaling more than 80% of its stores nationwide, the highest percentage of certified stores among U.S. retailers. In 2014 alone, 122 Kohl’s stores received Energy Star certification.

Kohl’s uses the Energy Star portfolio manager to track energy performance of all facilities, assess opportunities for enhanced energy performance, and implement best practices. Kohl’s Corporation has set a goal through the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge to reduce its energy use in more than 112 million sq. ft. of occupied building space by at least 20% by 2020. Towards this goal, Kohl’s achieved 12% reduction in energy use in 2013 and another 4.3% reduction in 2014.

Discount, Dollar, & Hardware Retailers

In late 2012, Ikea announced an aggressive, comprehensive plan to become energy and resource independent by the year 2020. The plan included provisions to focus $2.4 billion in resources to finance elaborate wind and solar projects. Here the company planned to install more rooftop solar panels, build wind farms and switch from incandescent light bulbs to significantly more energy efficient LEDS.

IKEA is a European-based global retailer, which strictly monitors current and potential suppliers spanning the world. Supplying IKEA is a very competitive sport in which winners are carefully judged on grades of product quality, price and the potential for enriching the environment. This latter qualification is measured both by reviewing the supplier’s production facilities and product offerings for environmental impact, as well as measured consequences of respective shipping processes. Ultimately, IKEA combines the environmental impact of all of the above.

IKEA is never one to rest on its laurels, even those as lofty as focusing on complete energy independence just a few years down the line. Now Ikea is engaging in a project at a location in Emeryville, California, where the company plans to install a fuel cell system. This would be IKEA’s latest initiative to intensify the company’s focus on emerging energy technologies and would create the first Ikea in the world to convert biogas into electricity through a clean electro-chemical process.

The fuel cell system will be installed, commissioned and activated by this summer, 2015. Combined with the solar energy system installed atop the store in 2011, these fuel cells will help generate more than a majority of the store’s energy onsite. The basis for this project and indirect plans for its financing emerged from the aforementioned plan announced in 2012 to be completed by 2020.

IKEA’s dedication and devotion to green sustainability and its foresight for projects based on future technologies can be seen here, as money was dedicated nearly three years ago to accommodate this then unforeseen test concept. Also included in that planning process is budgeting for possibly numerous, unforeseen consequences.

Drug Store & HBC Chains

In the retail drug industry, one company stands out amongst the rest in becoming a more energy efficient and ‘green’ retailer. Walgreens has made many strides in the past few years with its solar technology and ‘green’ initiatives. More than 80% of its stores have linear fluorescent lighting fixtures, hundreds of locations are powered by solar systems, and 5,000+ of its store base use LED cooler/freezer lighting, low watt fluorescent bulbs and energy management systems.

Perhaps the most impressive of Walgreens’ achievements has been the creation of what it called the nation’s first net zero energy retail store. The store, located in Evanston, IL, claims to produce an equal or greater amount of energy than it consumes. It achieves this through a combination of 850 solar panels, two wind turbines, and a geothermal system buried deep below the ground –revolutionary characteristics of a retail establishment. The store generates electricity by using daylight harvesting while also utilizing energy efficient building materials and carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment to help reduce consumption.

In addition to its ‘net zero’ retail store, 15 Walgreens distribution centers have achieved net zero waste, meaning waste expenses are less than recycling revenues.


Grocery & C-Store Chains

A grocery store is the center of a community, a place where everyone goes; a place where people get all of their food and supplies; it is a place that has a large impact on everyone’s life, whether they realize it or not. It isn’t a place to go for discretionary or frivolous spending, it has essential items that every human needs. Because of its ominous understated importance, its role in sustainability and green initiatives is unprecedented. This responsibility goes much further than just providing organic foods. This responsibility includes paying attention to where these foods come from, how they got to the store, what pesticides are on the foods, how they are kept fresh in the store, what happens to them once they reach their expiration date, what happens to the scraps from the in-store restaurant, what the actual store is made of, the list goes on and on. Literally every aspect of a supermarket has the potential to become green.

Most supermarket chains have some sort of green initiative or sustainability report, but there are a few that have gone above and beyond. These top companies include Kroger, Whole Foods, and Wegmans.

Kroger is the first company that comes to mind because of its continual quest to have zero waste stores. To date it has almost 1,000 stores that participate in some sort of waste diversion program. Outside of its zero waste initiative, its 2014 Sustainability Report outlines its activities to improve its transportation methods with fleet efficiency, reduce energy waste and carbon footprint, provide donated meals and food to charities, and ensure sustainable seafood. This past December, the company became the only grocery retailer to be granted Elite Member status in the Energy Star Certification Nation by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Whole Foods puts its focus on the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Some of the activities included in this are: providing complete transparency on where their produce comes from, banning plastic grocery bags, providing recycling areas for customers and employees, and being the first major retailer to offset 100% of their energy use with wind energy credits.

In December I wrote on Wegman’s innovative approach to waste. It’s Pittsford, NY, store began donating an average of six tons of food scraps per week to a local farm, which in turn converted that waste into electricity. To be exact, it created enough electricity to power the entire farm, equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power 400 homes for one year. An added bonus is that not only does this waste create electricity, but it is also good for the environment and instead of emitting Methane gas, it is converted into energy and less harmful byproducts. As of now, twelve of Wegman’s stores participate in this program.

The idea of ‘going green’ could be considered just a trend to some or a waste of money to others, but at the end of the day it is a topic that is becoming more and more important to consumers. Shoppers are often choosing stores that are known for their sustainability efforts. They want to be able to say they shop at the store that is working to improve the environment, because that in turn means they did something to improve the environment. As the millennial generation gains more buying power, this will become more than a trend, but a necessity and way of life. Therefore, whether it is converting lights to LED Lighting, donating left over scraps to energy farms, providing more efficient distribution routes for trucks, or doing many little things at stores to help the environment, the supermarket industry has the greatest opportunity to do good and should take advantage of it.



Restaurant Chains

Going, Going, Green
From the first cup of freshly brewed coffee in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market, Starbucks has continued to be one of the top environment-friendly companies on the planet. A leader in pioneering sustainable solutions, Starbucks provides its consumers annual sustainability reports that focus on the company’s many efforts to global sustainability. Starbucks remains completely transparent in the categories of LEED® Certification for its stores, opportunities for recycling and reducing waste, and water and energy conservation.

LEED® Certified
According to the company’s website, Starbucks is “creating more eco-conscious stores on a global scale from the design stage right through to construction and operations.” In 2005, Starbucks built its first LEED-certified store in Hillsboro, OR. Green practices inside each store include recycling coffee grounds, using low emitting materials for sealants, paints, flooring, etc., and saving nearly 50% in lighting power by using efficient LEED fixtures.

Recently, Starbucks Corporation announced that it opened its 500th LEED-certified store. Additionally, 98% of new U.S. company-operated locations opened in 2014 were built to LEED standards. Globally, the percentage stands at 64%.

Recycling & Reducing Waste
When spelling the word “Starbucks,” the company spells it with three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Starbucks’ website states:

We are working to shrink our environmental footprint and meet the expectations of our customers by reducing the waste associated with our business, increasing recycling and promoting reusable cups.

By collaborating on innovative and ongoing improvements, Starbucks continues to find ways to reduce waste generated by its stores, encourage all consumers and neighbors alike to recycle, and promote the use of reusable cups – personal tumblers, coffee cups, or even Starbucks’ very own $1 reusable cup – by offering discounts since 1985.

Water & Energy Conservation 
In 2008, Starbucks announced a goal to reduce water consumption by 25% in its company-operated stores by 2015. Now that it’s 2015, Starbucks can officially say it is in reach of achieving its original goal with a savings of more than 23% over baseline levels (recorded in 2014). Starbucks’ water conservation efforts include “installing efficient fixtures; monitoring consumption to identify spikes in water usage and targeting leak repairs; and upgrading the water filtration systems in our stores.”

On the energy front, Starbucks installed energy management systems in 4,000 stores to optimize heating and cooling in 2014. According to the website, Starbucks is constantly searching for renewable energy resources and remains “one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top ten purchasers of renewable energy in the US.”