Starbucks in Real-Time Energy Pilot

Program encourages store associates to get involved in resource reduction efforts

Starbucks Coffee Company is participating in a pilot project designed to encourage employees to identify strategies that will reduce the amount of energy required to run the stores while not impacting customer service.

The pilot was developed by Lucid, a provider of real-time feedback technology for buildings, in conjunction with the Snohomish County Public Utility District and Portland Energy Conservation Inc. Ten Starbucks stores, all located in Snohomish County, Wash., are involved in the program, which will evaluate energy savings that result from providing energy-use data to employees.

The new initiative complements a broad range of energy efficiency and sustainability goals embraced by Starbucks. The chain has set a goal of reducing store energy and water consumption by 25% by 2015.

“This is an aggressive goal and will require store partner action and support,” said a Starbucks spokesperson. “The test provides an opportunity to learn the level of impact our store partners can have on energy- and water-reduction efforts through making small behavior changes. It also provides us with an opportunity for testing a variety of strategies for engaging and empowering our store partners to get involved in our resource reduction efforts.”

For the pilot, Lucid installed equipment to monitor electricity consumption in real time in the participating stores. Gas and water data is being collected through utility meters and feedback provided at differing intervals.

As to how the data is being communicated to store employees, the energy information is presented in real time on tablet PCs (in the stores) that display Lucid’s Building Dashboard software.

“Stores will have a variety of tools to help them understand their energy usage,” explained the Starbucks spokesperson, “including comparisons between their stores and the average store, and intuitive graphs that show them when they are using energy throughout the day. They also will have interpretive metrics to help them visualize the amount of energy they are using in terms of relatable items, such as how many light bulbs their energy use could power.”

What type of behavior changes is Starbucks hoping for?

“Our goal is to help partners make the connection between their actions and their store’s energy and water consumption,” the chain’s spokesperson said. “We’re providing partners with a number of simple, familiar actions they can take to reduce their store’s resource consumption, while also providing context as to how those actions translate into energy and water savings. We’ve also worked with Lucid to provide our partners with a way to tell us their ideas as to how they think they can save energy and water in stores.”

The pilot will run for one year. The first phase is focused on collecting a baseline of energy use, hosting a competition among the participating stores, measuring the impact and testing the persistence of behavior savings.

“The rest of the year will focus on activities to maintain and refine those savings using different, less intensive behavior techniques,” said Andrew deCoriolis, director of engagement, Lucid, Oakland, Calif. “If we have identified effective strategies for behavior reduction, the rest of the year will be spent institutionalizing those behaviors/savings in different ways.”

To date, the reaction of employees to the new energy-saving initiative has been extremely enthusiastic, according to the retailer.

“Our partners truly care about their store’s environmental impact,” the Starbucks’ spokesperson said. “We’re very pleased to be providing them with an opportunity to see the results of their efforts in real time.”

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