With the economy under siege, the pressure is on as never before for retailers to drive efficiencies and reduce costs from their operations. During the past few years, chains have been increasing their investments in sustainability measures, and some companies may now be re-thinking their commitment. But many experts say now is not the time to put green initiatives on the back burner.
“Many green programs can generate immediate benefits that can actually reduce costs in the short term,” said Dan Probst, global managing director, energy and sustainable services, Jones Lang LaSalle, Chicago.
Jones Lang LaSalle has identified several sustainable initiatives that drive immediate savings with minimal (or, in some cases, no) up-front expenses as well as more strategic ideas to consider for the long term. Among the no-cost suggestions: adjusting thermostats one degree warmer in summer and one degree cooler in winter.
“This imperceptible difference can save 10% on your energy bills while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” Probst explained. “Also, lower temperature set points in rooms that can be closed off when not in use.”
Here are some other suggestions:
Consider low-cost, quick-payoff improvements.
“Five percent to 10% of energy savings can be saved immediately,” said Probst.
Examples of low-cost upgrades include:
Look ahead to longer-term, big-payoff strategies.
“A comprehensive energy- and sustainability-management program can generally pay for itself in one to two years and save tens of millions of dollars in utility expenses after that,” said Probst, who recommended reinvesting the savings from green behavioral “freebies” into capital improvements for energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling.
Retro-commissioning, a systematic, holistic process for optimizing building performance, is another investment that is recouped quickly and then provides years of savings. Retro-commissioning looks at how existing building systems currently operate versus how they could perform and how to bridge the gaps between the two.
“Performed by a qualified building systems advisor, retro-commissioning typically saves 5% to 20% in annual energy costs while providing occupants a greener, more comfortable work environment,” Probst reported.
Another long-term strategy involves reducing energy bills and environmental impact by shrinking a company’s corporate-occupancy footprint.
“Savings from eliminating unneeded space can run into the millions while building flexibility into your portfolio,” Probst said.
The sustainability advocate added that regardless of which initiatives a company chooses to take, it should follow these guiding principles: