GREEN REPORT: Sustainable Stores Make More Green
From recycling paper to a complete redesign, being environmentally friendly has benefits
By Samantha Clark -- Video Business, 6/23/2008
Going green not only is good for the soul, it can be good for the wallet.
Dan Butler, VP of retail operations for the National Retail Federation, says that research done by the group's Sustainable Retailing Consortium suggests that environmentally friendly choices often bring down costs while boosting both consumer and employee loyalty. The main consideration, Butler says, is that retailers should do only those steps that make sense for their individual businesses.
Whether you're a retailer with one location versus 50 locations or thousands of locations, you can make a difference in your footprint, Butler says.
The same things that many retailers do at home can be done at work with little effort, such as encouraging employees to print on both sides of paper; installing recycling bins; and making sure water faucets and lights are turned off.
But that's not all.
Butler suggests doing a light audit at night after the store is closed. Shut off the lights as normal, then walk around in the dark with a flashlight and look for power lights that will give away electrical items that are still on, such as computers, printers and power bars. The savings in electricity will pay off over time. Lights also can be changed for energy-saving units.
Many utility companies offer customers the choice of purchasing green energy. But some retailers are taking extra steps.
Abt Electronics, one of the greenest electronics retailers around, according to Butler, powers much of its store with a natural gas generator, but it also is building a windmill and installing solar panels.
It's harder when you're a [smaller retailer] to afford it, but it'll pay off in the end, says Michael Abt, president of Abt Electronics.
These are long-term investments that Butler says can pay for themselves in four to seven years. There are a lot of new systems in the market now, and people should take the time to look around, he says, adding that store size will be a consideration.
Store design also can play a big part. Using more natural light can save energy. However, Butler says there's an added benefit: Research has shown that consumers respond more to natural light than artificial light.
Many companies also offer eco-friendly shelving units. Ecowood Retail Displays, for example, sells ready-made and custom-built shelving made of reclaimed and sustainable wood.
Once your store is green, let customers know. NRF members reported seeing a rise in business after their environmentally friendly habits were revealed.
©2008 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.