Canadian Retailer - March/April 2010 - (Page 34)
E N V I RON M E N TA L S U S TA I N A BI L I T Y: G R E E N I NG T H E I N DU S T RY
Becoming greener all the time – together
For retailers that are keen to make a move toward environmental sustainability, it’s important to understand that they are not alone. Learning and borrowing best practices from contemporaries can only aid in the journey. BY MARY TERESA BIT TI
t’s an interesting time for retailers,” says Valerie Chort, Partner & National Leader, Sustainability & Climate Change, Deloitte. “Sustainability and all it encompasses—think social responsibility; ethics; community involvement; safety; the way you treat employees—is front of mind for everyone from business leaders to consumers to potential employees. And this is particularly true when it comes to the environment. It’s a big issue, and in today’s world of transparency companies need to take that seriously.” The fact is, says Chort, the environment will become increasingly important for retailers going forward. “That’s why it’s critical today to take a proactive stance when it comes to reducing your environmental footprint. For example, by reducing your energy use, it’s a cost savings today and you are going to be more nimble and efficient tomorrow because you’ve anticipated cost increases.” The question, of course, is where to start? Ms. Chort’s most immediate piece of advice is to stay focused on what is meaningful to you and your stakeholders. “Don’t get overwhelmed. Understand how much energy you are consuming and how much waste you are creating—your ‘As Is’ state. Then understand what is of most importance across all your stakeholders: customers, staff, suppliers. Once you have this piece, set goals and targets. Think of those goals and targets in terms of improving overall operational efficiencies and then set activities around those targets. It helps you think through why you are making specific choices and keeps everyone onside. And measure—that’s how you know it’s working.” Here’s a look at some initiatives put in place by four retailers—some small, some big, all focused on reducing their carbon footprint and improving efficiencies to cut costs.
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Mandating energy reduction initiatives amongst staff is a great start toward green.
Northern Canada Retail Division of Northwest Company
With 132 general stores selling groceries and everything from socks to snowmobiles in the Arctic North from the coast of Labrador to the border of Alaska, environmental sustainability and having respect for nature is part of Northern Canada Retail Division’s culture and 300-year heritage. But the high cost of energy and shipping in the North has brought it into sharper focus and has led to very specific actions. “Over the last three years we have focused on the energy consumption in our stores, warehouses and staff housing,” says Michael McMullen, Executive Vice President, Northern Canada Retail, from his office in Winnipeg. “We started by understanding what the environmental footprint was for each store. And then we took a three-pronged approach: No tech; low tech; and high tech. • No Tech involves a DIY or common sense approach that is easily put in place and inhabited by the daily actions of
Northern Canada Retail’s teams. “It’s about strong local ownership,” says McMullen. “For example, we have promoted only using lights as necessary. On almost every light switch in the company you will see the ‘Flick it Off ’ campaign covering over the switch. This boosts awareness.” Last summer, Northern Canada Retail also started its ‘Lights Out’ program, where it removed one-third of overhead lighting in 46 test stores. “We found that there was no safety risk and no impact on customers or staff.” • The Low Tech approach relies on relatively inexpensive adaptive technology. “Two years ago we switched entirely to CFL bulbs in all our stores, staff houses and warehouses,” says McMullen. “We also installed 500 programmable thermostats targeting the ambient temperature at a threedegree setback during non-store operating hours.” • The High Tech approach relies on progressive technology. “Our chilled and frozen sections represent high consumption areas in our stores,” says McMullen. “We replaced the entire refrigeration and chilled systems with systems that use reclaimed heat to power the units. “Our fiscal year is just wrapping up and we have spent close to $5.7 million in retrofits. The payback is anywhere from 4.5 to 7.5 years,” says McMullen. “In the short term it’s
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - March/April 2010
Canadian Retailer - March/April 2010
In Your Interest
Environmental Sustainability: Back to Basics
Human Resources Supplement
What's Your Impact?
Greening the Industry
Canadian Retailer - March/April 2010