By Carol Abel, Vice President, Education, FMI
While retailers simultaneously pursue other sustainability efforts, such as reducing food and packaging waste, they are increasingly focusing on their physical locations. After all, on a global level, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy is at the heart of sustainable design for buildings. According to a 2022 report from the consulting firm McKinsey, energy consumption in grocery stores can be lowered by 30-50% by modernizing lighting, refrigeration, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling, among other measures.
Updating those systems can be done at different scales and through a range of investments, even at a time of tight margins and overall economic uncertainty. From an ROI standpoint, improving energy sources can reduce operating costs while contributing to decarbonization.
As grocers take actionable steps to move ahead with sustainable energy choices, they have more options as providers and partners continue to roll out innovative solutions. Given the importance of refrigeration – which can account for up to 60% of a grocer’s energy use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – retailers are moving towards energy-efficient refrigeration systems, such as those with natural refrigerants like CO2. That has been one notable avenue for greener energy solutions at food retail.
Increasingly, food retailers are also exploring ways to offset their carbon use through power purchase agreements. Beyond brick-and-mortar grocery stores, retailers, wholesale/distributors and suppliers are embracing more sustainable energy forms in their warehouses, such as the use of solar arrays and wind turbines.
In whatever way blueprints turn greener, grocers of all sizes and types are heeding the push towards more sustainable sources of energy. You can learn more at the 2023 FMI Energy and Store Development Conference, a peer-to-peer event designed exclusively for food retail professionals in energy, refrigeration, sustainability and store design, Oct. 2-4 at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor, where we will explore a host of relevant, timely topics including:
- Sustainability Strategies.
- Reducing Store Emissions.
- Cost Cutting Approaches.
- Current Sustainability Trends.
Attendees can also take advantage of networking opportunities, including the manufacturer retail exchange for face-to-face interaction with industry retailers and suppliers.