Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

NEW YORK CITY-Despite a challenging environment for retailers, one area seems to be growing: sustainability. ‘Green’ seems to be the way to go, with various exhibits and educational sessions discussing sustainability at the National Retail Federation’s 99th Annual Conference, which concluded at the Javits Center here on Wednesday.

Educational sessions ranged from the practical, offering tips and techniques for retailers looking to save energy in-store to larger discussions regarding the Sustainable Retail Consortium (SRC), created to further sustainability issues industry-wide.

“Sustainability is not just a retailing emphasis, but global in all its aspects,” L.J. Mohan, VP, facilities management & engineering, Polo Ralph Lauren and co-chairman of the SRC tells GlobeSt.com. “Every child in the street knows about global warming.”

Last year, a group of retailers and manufacturers formed the SRC and became an advisory committee to the NRF on green issues, Mohan explains. Over the past year, members of the committee have met both in person and virtually to create a framework for the industry to define and pursue sustainability. High-ranking leadership is key, he says. Strategies must be created by the president, the chairman or a committee headed by a senior manager.

“Sustainability is a journey, and it must begin with the CEO,” Mohan explains. “It’s more than a division of a retail operation: its comprehensiveness touches all channels.”

And while sustainability in its broader sense also involves social issues–including human rights and fair trade–and economic matters, the committee for now is focusing on the environmental. Some of the focus is, to some degree, defensive, as retailers should explore sustainable techniques before they are compelled to do so, Mohan says.

“This will be like Sarbanes-Oxley, with regulations that we will have no choice but to comply with,” Mohan says.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program from the US Green Building Council already has been hugely successful, he notes, and LEED for Retail: New Construction; and LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors; ratings systems will be issued in the third quarter of this year.

Fortunately, technology is helping. The conference’s exhibit hall also held a “Seeing Green” concept store displaying the latest technologies available to retailers to measure and reduce their energy usage. Among the new concepts: digital receipts by allEtronic; paperless coupons from Ecrio; a lower-energy consumption Point of Sale system from Intel; green lighting systems; and energy management systems from NEC. Visitors could quiz themselves on their green knowledge, and viewed a multimedia presentation illustrating the green store of the future.

The display was the fifth annual concept store at the conference, Richard Russo, president, creative director of Clifton, VA-based Hybridia Design and the creator of the display, tells GlobeSt.com.

“Every year we determine what’s important in the industry,” Russo says. “Last year, we did a pop-up store that was green.”

The display itself was sustainable, as well, using a woven floor covering from Merida Merdian, shade fabric, that is PVC and lead-free, made from recycled materials from Roll-A-Shade.

“If you’re a larger retail store, there are hardware and software that control everything that goes on,” said James Dion, founder and president of Dion Co., a Chicago-based retail operations consultancy, in a practical talk on easy sustainable techniques. “Because this energy is 85% of [a store's] carbon footprint, a 12.8% to 17.5% reduction is a substantial savings. It often pays for itself within two years, and after that, you’re just laughing.”

Eden Prairie, MN-based Optimal Advantage has created a “sustainable dashboard” for a 1,000-unit retailer that gives a multi-window overview of the chain’s highest and lowest CO2-producing and water-using stores. ‘This allows us to see the best practices,” says Rob Bergh, a vice president of Optimal Advantage.

The data from such an overview also is a valuable tool for CEOs to explain the value of sustainability to their boards. It also shows the breadth of what sustainability entails, Mohan says. “This is a very large area and has tremendous scope, allowing you to cut the energy used in products and operations as much as 50%,” Mohan says. “We just have to do it.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.