Spotlight on Retail and Improving Sustainable Practices


This past November, twenty three of the biggest names in retail came together at the Green Retail Decisions Innovation Summit with the goal to improve sustainable practices. Keynote speakers included representatives from Wal-Mart, The Solar Electric Power Association, Walgreens, Ralph Lauren, and Staples. During their closing conference, they discovered that across the panel one of the biggest drivers of sustainable practices is renewable energy. Some interesting case studies were shared as well as some insightful assertions:

“At Walgreens, solar power and electric vehicle charging stations have taken a lead position because the payback is so clear,” Menno Enters says. “You’ll find that once you do one [solar store], it gets a lot of people, including your employees, excited about renewables.”

Julia Hamm of Solar Electric Power says, “We don’t own a lot of buildings so we have to work with landlords, but it’s all about changing the way we do business, getting the legal people, the property management people, involved. You know PPAs four years ago didn’t really exist and now it’s common practice. Now you’re looking at lease options. These are game changers.” These PPAs refer to Power Purchase Agreements which are contracts with specific energy providers.

The panel also recognized that integrating renewables into the supply chain should be a main focus of sustainable operations. L.J. Mohan of the Ralph Lauren Corporation states, “The supply chain is the subset of sustainability, and it is definitely a very important contributor to sustainability.”

Thus while switching to renewable sources of energy can be a costly endeavor, these top players in the retail industry have found it to be worth the financial trek. Your return on investment will go beyond dollars and cents, as shifts in the entire thought process of your business team at all career levels will result. Find out more information by skimming through the Summit recap.