Three Sustainability Steps That Boost Business

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For retail and other businesses, brand image is important. When people value a brand, they’re more likely to spend money – perhaps twice as much. Now, with the IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence) and other advances in technology, businesses can enhance their brand while cutting resource usage and saving money.

So, what appeals to consumers? Being environmentally friendly. Millennials, those born between about 1980 and 1999, are now the largest generation in terms of numbers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Global surveys have shown that millennials say sustainable shopping is a priority.

Buildings have various environmental effects: greenhouse gas emissions, particle production, the release of volatile organic compounds and more. But, satisfying sustainability must be done in a way that boosts brand image, increases sales and cuts costs – which together can drive up profits. Most retailers’ profit margin is 4 percent. So, a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption ups that to 4.75 percent, a 18.7 percent increase in profit.

That’s the sustainability opportunity. Meeting it is easier because innovative technology can monitor and track the consumption of electricity, water, gas and other resources. This can work for one building or across an entire portfolio of sites and stores. See this earlier post about applying technology to curtail energy use.

But, to achieve the best sustainability results, businesses need a strategy. For example, Carrefour Egypt wanted to reduce its carbon footprint, cut operating expenses and enhance uptime across 19 stores. Using a suite of Schneider Electric services, they saw a 7 percent reduction in energy consumption and carbon footprint. For more information, see the customer success story here.

As this shows, excellent results are possible, if the right steps are taken.

  1. Establish a strategy and identify priority targets by answering such questions as:
  • What kind of impact should be addressed first?
  • What resource consumption would be the most efficient to improve?
  • What would customers care about the most?
  • What would make commitments more visible and better for a brand image?

Answering the last question can be particularly important. A public commitment to sustainability is key, as shown by pledges from Alphabet, eBay, Facebook and others.

  1. Make the strategy operational by addressing such topics as:
  • Energy impact and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Comfort in buildings for occupants, employees, visitors and retail customers
  • Air quality impact arising from volatile organic compounds

The implementation should involve decision makers, employees and subcontractors or building occupants through key performance indicators (KPIs), return on investment (ROI) and reporting.

  1. Verify results and adjust as needed. Success is critical as fulfilling public commitments strengthens a brand image, boosts investment, and raises revenues. A brand will be judged by how well it succeeds in meeting a public pledge, with two thirds of all companies having made or actively considering such a public promise.Public Commitment to carbon reduction

Luckily, there are two solutions that can help. First, the cloud based platform EcoStruxure™ Facility Expert provides data on energy consumption, equipment status and comfort indicators across multiple locations. It can alert on overconsumption, as well as equipment malfunction or drift. It can also benchmark buildings against each other and give insight on energy bills.

Second, EcoStruxure™ Facility Advisor expands such tools by combining them with analysis algorithms, human experts and support to yield a significantly greater reduction in resource consumption. Which one is best for a given situation depends upon needs and goals, as well as the level of internal expertise or time to address the complex subject of sustainability improvements.

The next post in this series will look at some related topics, expanding upon the sustainability theme. Being environmentally conscious is more important than ever for a company’s brand image. After all, recently the U.N. said a climate crisis disaster now happens weekly. Companies can no longer ignore how operations impact communities.

Learn more about our comprehensive technology and service offers for Retail businesses.


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