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Energy Smarts: Havertys partners with DOE for energy efficiency

BY Marianne Wilson

Haverty Furniture Company has been around since the late 19th century, but the specialty furniture retailer has a decidedly 21st century approach to energy management.

“We want Havertys to be the company everyone wants to come work for,” said Rawson Haverty Jr., senior VP of real estate and development, Havertys, during a session at Chain Store Age’s SPECS 2016 Conference, March 13 – 15, in Dallas.

Environmental stewardship, and thus energy conservation, are on the Atlanta-based furniture retailer’s list of 10 core values, Haverty explained.

“It’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about saving money,” he said.

As part of its efforts toward greater energy sustainability, Havertys participates in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings Initiative. Announced by President Obama in February 2011, the initiative is designed to make buildings 20% more energy efficient in the next 10 years, as well as accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency.

The initiative offers a variety of programs to the commercial sector, including the Better Buildings Challenge, a leadership club, and the Better Buildings Alliance, a network of more than 200 energy professionals representing more than 11 billion sq. ft. of building space.

“Participants in the Better Buildings Challenge set a public goal to make their buildings 20% more energy-efficient in the next 10 years,” said co-presenter Holly Jamesen Carr, energy technology program specialist, U.S. DOE. “They also share building-level energy use and best practices. For participants, the Better Buildings Challenge elevates energy efficiency to senior leadership and provides third-party validation of energy savings.”

As a public company, Havertys built support from executive leadership around sustainability. “We invited leaders with credibility from organizations like Walmart, Home Depot, UPS and others to share what they had done with sustainability,” said Haverty. “We learned from these organizations the importance of setting specific goals, understanding our audience and articulating the business case.”

LED RE-LAMP: For example, Havertys’ executive leadership initially questioned the idea of purchasing energy-efficient LED light bulbs for $90 each. But once they were able demonstrate the significant ROI, the company invested in a comprehensive multi-year re-lamping program.

“The conversion to LED bulbs helped reduce overall energy consumption against base year 2008 by 38%,” added Haverty.

With executive level support in place, the chain joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2012, and can report to date a cumulative 18% energy usage reduction compared to the Better Buildings Challenge baseline year of 2011.

The company’s success in energy reduction is due in part to its systematic approach to evaluating and upgrading its store portfolio.

“Coming out of the recession the average Havertys store was older than our competition. We had a portfolio challenge and opportunity,” said Haverty.

The retailer created a process to evaluate all its stores and distribution assets. The evaluations included financial performance, length of the leases and options, strength of locations and markets, co-tenancy as well as physical condition of the building, to include energy efficiency. “We started a five-year program of closing, relocating, or reinvesting in stores and made sustainability an operational strategy,” explained Haverty.

The retailer has invested in LED re-lamping, high efficiency HVAC units, energy management systems (EMS) and white roofs to help optimize energy efficiency across the portfolio.

“We are focusing on customer experience, which includes safety, code compliance, store temperature and air quality, and overall comfort,” said Haverty.

Looking forward, he said the next steps will be to take the same knowledge and adapt it to its distribution centers, as well as a greater focus on monitoring and optimization.

“After that is done, we’ll have completed a lot of the heavy lifting and even as we set new goals for greater energy efficiency we are realizing benefits today,” Haverty added.

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