In the Spotlight: Disaster Readiness
The increased severity and frequency of storms and other catastrophic events has put a white-hot spotlight on disaster planning. No retailer can afford to be unprepared. Three disaster readiness experts shared insights on how retailers can best avoid catastrophe before it happens during the SPECS workshop session, “Disaster Zone — Before the Storm.”
Moderator Gregg Beatty, president of embc, kicked things off by reviewing the “three Rs” of dealing with a disaster — readiness, response and recovery.
“The hardest is recovery and the easiest is response,” Beatty said. “Response time is limited because the length of time the problem occurs is finite. Recovery can go on for decades, like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or Hurricane Sandy in New York. However, retailers must think about readiness.”
According to Beatty, readiness encompasses the who, what, when, where, why and how of preparing for an emergency. This includes who is responsible, what you are planning for and when the problem will happen.
“For natural disasters, you can often get some perspective for your routine,” said Beatty. “You know that hurricane season lasts from June to November. But an active shooter can’t be predicted.”
In addition, Beatty said “where” includes the location of the disaster, “why” includes the reason for readiness — such as meeting federal regulations or insurance requirements — and “how” includes readiness drills and exercises as well as cooperating with local first responders, preferably through advance planning.
“Things that can never happen, do happen,” Beatty advised the audience, relating the story of a client that suffered severe flood damage from a river that had not flooded over in modern times.
Panelist Justen Noakes, director of emergency preparedness at H-E-B Grocery, said hurricane preparedness is a big part of his com-pany’s disaster readiness initiative because many of its stores are located on the Texas coastline where hurricanes are common.
Noakes said each company must establish its own priorities, as well as its No. 1 priority, for disaster readiness. For H-E-B , Noakes said top priorities are retail stores, manufacturing plants, transportation, IT, community and employees.
“There can only be one No. 1 priority,” stated Noakes. “At H-E-B, the employee is No. 1. Above and beyond, the employees are taken care of.”
Panelist Dan Ryan, senior director of corporate security at General Growth Properties (GGP), touched upon the need to review and prepare for emergencies.
“In order of importance, we review and prepare to protect life and safety, property, reputation and business resumption,” Ryan said. “We have reference materials from recognized agencies and resources, and case studies based on real-world events.”
Ryan said GGP uses these assets to create a disaster-response template that is confirmed and combined with the expertise of local police and fire personnel, so the template is made site-specific. First responders are given site maps that include markings for noteworthy features, such as standpipes and hazardous materials. This eliminates the need to spend time reviewing site details when emergency personnel first arrive on site during a disaster.
GGP also uses these locally optimized templates and site maps for its own internal preparations.
“For example, we check roof drains before a rainstorm,” Ryan noted. “A hurricane can create heavy rain across the country.”
In the Spotlight: HVAC and Refrigeration
Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology is in the midst of a dramatic evolution brought on by a variety of factors, including regulations, retailers’ needs for technological sophistication, operational and cost efficiency, and ease of implementation and use. These and other topics were discussed in the SPECS session, “Evolution, Revolution: The Future of HVAC and Refrigeration.”
Session moderator Bob Keingstein, president of Boss Facility Services, asked panelists to discuss several pointed questions focused on different key areas of the evolution of HVAC.
When asked to name the single most important piece of technology they are working on, panelist Steve Maddox, VP engineering of York International/Johnson Controls, replied, “Smart controls.”
Kevin Bolton, VP engineering and technology for Trane, cited a “product concierge” his company is developing. “We’re delivering a solution for the building that even a second-shift retail manager, who might be a 17-year-old kid, can really use and deliver.”
Keingstein also asked panelists about what factors they think are driving HVAC evolution. Richard Lord, engineering fellow at Carrier Corp., mentioned the age-old concern about cost.
“We got hit with efficiency-improvement mandates in 2010,” Lord said. “Now there is a 30% improvement in efficiency typically delivered without a 30% increase in cost. We need to re-engineer the product without the material cost going up.”
Increases in energy regulation are also driving change.
“In the last 18 months, the Department of Energy has set specific regulations for heating and cooling requiring certification,” Bolton said. “Also for many of us there has been local regulatory activity, which makes it hard to copy and duplicate buildings. It’s a game changer.”
Maddox said that the development of one uniform refrigeration standard would provide the benefit of alleviating a rampant pattern of theft of copper from HVAC units.
Currently, Maddox said companies use 24-hour equipment-monitoring tools or even simply lock HVAC units in a cage, but an advanced standard that minimized the need for copper parts in refrigeration units would better serve the industry.
When asked to provide final recommendations, Maddox said that HVAC technology providers and users need to ensure a proper startup to commissioning.
“Self-configuration to controls is a plus,” he said. “Proper maintenance maximizes the lifespan of the HVAC unit.”
Lord agreed that HVAC users need to look at the actual HVAC application and consider the whole system when commissioning and employing it.
Shailesh Manohar, VP advanced technologies, Lennox Industries, said HVAC users should consider the entire picture when evaluating the CO2 impact of a particular system.
“Global warming potential includes its efficiency,” Manohar said. “Look holistically over the life of the product — are you better off?”
In the Spotlight: LEDs
A stellar retail panel — Mark Friedman, manager of retail facilities, Coldwater Creek; Eric Johnson, director of store planning, design and construction, Brookshire Brothers Ltd.; and Bob Valair, director of energy and environmental management, Staples — shared first-hand accounts of their LED deployments and plans going forward at the SPECS session, “LED Lessons Learned, Strategies for the Future.”
Brookshire’s Johnson said the use of LED lighting has reduced maintenance and the related cost burden while creating crisp, consistent lighting in the freezer cases. Brookshire also employs LEDs outside the store, in building signs and pylon signs and in parking lot lighting.
“LED lighting has improved visibility in our parking lots,” Johnson said, “and enhanced our brand image with bright, uniformly lit signage.”
Johnson told attendees Brookshire’s current standard for new stores, remodels and maintenance replacements includes using LEDs for gas station canopies, parking lot lights and site lighting, signs, all refrigerator cases, walk-in coolers and freezers, any lighted decor and specialty lighting.
“As to what’s next, we are researching using LED on the general sales floor in two new small-format stores that are currently under construction,” Johnson said.
Staples’ Bob Valair discussed the office supply retailer’s LED strategy, which includes applications in stores, building signs, parking lot lighting, security lighting, wall packs, dock lighting and coolers.
LED lighting has provided Staples with an array of benefits, from reduced energy savings to brighter, crisper light to the flexibility to place the light where you need it. And the long life of LEDs has resulted in reduced maintenance costs, Valair noted.
With so many LED companies marketing products, Valair advised attendees to do their homework before deciding on a supplier and product.
“Talk to those you trust,” he said. “Do your research, test and ask hard questions.”