ENERGY/HVAC

Smart Energy Management Trends for Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

BY CSA STAFF

Commercial retail is a unique and rapidly changing space. With the rise of online shopping, retailers are creatively adapting to improve the experience of being in a physical store. Strategies like experiential retail make shopping a personalized and engaging experience instead of a simple transaction.

Retailers are also providing customers with a more tech-friendly brick-and-mortar shopping experience in response to online competitors – the prevalence of self-serve check-out stations being just one example.

Other tech-driven strategies are being used to improve operations. Smart energy management is of growing interest to retailers seeking to cut costs, and while many of these strategies don’t have a direct impact on the shopping experience, the upgrades ultimately benefit customers. Savings accumulated from strategic energy management are significant and can be used to improve operations or be invested in other areas. Energy is the fourth largest in-store operating cost for U.S. retailers, and decreasing energy costs by 20% can have the same bottom line impact as a 5% sales increase.

Communicating through the cloud

Cloud-based software is becoming increasingly popular – from smart devices for schedule-based plug load shutdown to integrated data collection platforms. Removing paper and clipboards from the energy management process makes it accessible and efficient for time- and resource-strapped facility managers. Of course, as cloud use continues to grow, new challenges arise.

Security is a concern for many, and software not only has to be optimized for top performance but also ensure protection against any potential threats. Congress is even paying attention to this need, most notably in recent legislation introduced this summer requiring baseline safety features for Internet of Things (IoT) devices at federal facilities.

Utility partnerships

Another emerging trend in retail efficiency is automated demand response (ADR), a utility-commercial partnership that capitalizes on IoT solutions to effortlessly shift resources for cost savings on both sides of the meter. Utilities have worked with select smart energy management companies to further ADR programs and participation from retailers, helping them automatically cut back during times of peak demand, which adds to the easy savings that already come from such devices. These types of programs are especially helpful for stores with set operation hours, providing resource control beyond scheduled store shutdown times.

ADR partnerships also benefit the larger community by stabilizing the grid for another changing industry: utilities. Because of this, utilities sometimes even offer monetary incentives through rebates and bill incentives for businesses that participate in ADR programs.

The frequency and duration of major outages are on the rise, and power problems are estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $150 billion annually. If U.S. businesses were to fully embrace ADR, the nation’s peak load in 2019 could be reduced by as much as 150 GW over 2009, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report. Both utilities and businesses have an incentive to work together through ADR programs.

Customer consciousness

Consumers are increasingly looking to brands and retailers to adopt more sustainable practices. A recent Unilever study found one-third of customers are choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good. The highly coveted millennial market lists green packaging as a top priority, resulting from the increasing importance placed on social responsibility. The greenhouse gas reductions from energy cuts shine bright in a company sustainability report. If all U.S. commercial and industrial buildings improved their energy efficiency by 10 percent, the environmental benefits would be equal to removing emissions from about 49 million vehicles – or about 19% of all registered highway vehicles in the U.S.

Smart energy management is a clear path in an evolving landscape for retailers to benefit their bottom line and benefit the planet.


James McPhail is CEO of Zen Ecosystems, which provides intelligent energy management solutions to businesses and consumers. Zen HQ is an energy management system designed for the unique needs of businesses and utilities to provide insights and control over multisite commercial energy usage with a fast payback.

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ECOMMERCE

Amazon to embark on Big Apple hiring spree

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is about to put down some new roots in New York City — and is hunting for new employees to support the operation.

The online giant plans to open a 359,000-sq. ft. office in Manhattan in 2018 that will serve as the home base for its Amazon Advertising business. Amazon will invest $55 million to outfit the office space with equipment that meets energy-efficient standards. To encourage Amazon's expansion in New York State, the company was offered up to $20 million in performance-based taxed credits through Empire State Development's Excelsior Jobs Program.

The expansion will also create 2,000 new jobs in finance, sales, marketing, and information technology — roles that will earn an average of $100,000 annually. These jobs will support Amazon’s advertising business, as well as Amazon Web Services, Amazon Fashion, and other divisions, according to MarketWatch.

Amazon Advertising will complement other operations already entrenched in The Empire State. For example, The Amazon Fashion Photography and Videography Studio in Brooklyn, New York, supports more than 300 jobs. Amazon also has a 350,000-sq.-ft. administrative office in New York City that employs 500 associates.

"We're excited to expand our presence in New York — we have always found great talent here," said Paul Kotas, Amazon's senior VP of worldwide advertising. "Last January, we announced our plans to create 100,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs in the U.S. by mid-2018 — and we are on track to reach that goal."

To help the company reach that goal, Amazon will open a new fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York. A $100 million investment, the 855,000 sq.-ft. facility will employ 2,250 full-time associates working alongside advanced robotics solutions.

The company is also evaluating where it will open its second headquarters, which it is calling HQ2.

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C-SUITE

Tiffany & Co. names veteran retailer as chairman

BY Marianne Wilson

Tiffany & Co. has named Roger Farah as chairman, effective Oct. 2.

Farah, 64, joined Tiffany’s board in March 2017. He succeeds Michael J. Kowalski, who has served as chairman since 2002.

Kowalski, who served as CEO of Tiffany from 1999 until his retirement in March 2015, has been acting as interim CEO since February 2017. He will relinquish that title when the company’s newly appointed CEO, Alessandro Bogliolo, takes the reins in October.

Farah has served in leadership roles at Ralph Lauren Corp. Venator Group, R.H. Macy & Co., Inc. and Federated Merchandising Services.

“Roger has significant experience as a leader in the luxury retail industry, and I and my fellow directors value tremendously his expertise and insight which have been apparent during his time on the board," Kowalski said. "With the appointment of Alessandro as our new CEO, and under Roger’s leadership on the board, I believe we are well positioned to execute on strategies to drive comparable store sales growth and stronger earnings growth in the longer-term.”

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