J.C. Penney, Limited Brands and Office Depot Offer Insight into Saving Energy

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Employee involvement is crucial to J.C. Penney’s efforts to save...
Ron Rau, VP, stores and facilities management, Limited Brands, discussed...

J.C. Penney Co., Limited Brands and Office Depot shed light on their energy-saving efforts at

J.C. Penney: Employee participation is crucial to J.C. Penney’s energy-conservation efforts, according to Rob Keller, energy management and engineering services director, J.C. Penney, Plano, Texas. With only seven associates on the chain’s corporate energy team, Keller saw early on that the team could not do everything on its own.

“We realized that 155,000 associates could make a difference, and we decided to engage them,” Keller said.

Penney’s efforts to make its associates active participants in energy conservation are based on several key factors, including:

  • Ownership (via knowledge of the store’s energy consumption);
  • Empowerment (the freedom, with limitations, to act to reduce waste and suggest ideas to conserve;
  • Recognition;
  • Rewards; and
  • Sustaining (energy captains appointed at store level, Energy Center Web tools and reports).

“With the Web tool,” Keller said, “we give detailed reports on the stores’ energy use.”

In March 2004, Penney launched March Utility Madness (MUM), a program to raise energy awareness at the store level.

“It was designed to get our employees to understand our utility bill and buy in to energy conservation,” Keller said. “It empowers them to reduce waste.”

The program, which includes recognition and various rewards, was a big success its first year out. In 2006, Penney turned it from an annual to a monthly event. Penney credits it with some $4.25 million in annual energy savings.

Limited: Ron Rau, VP, stores and facilities maintenance, Limited Brands, Columbus, Ohio, explored the use of energy-efficient lighting technologies in the company’s Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret divisions.

Rau reviewed the LED shelf lighting and LED bi-directional lightbar employed in Victoria’s Secret. Comparing the light measurements of LEDs to fluorescent lamps, he noted that the LEDs provide 55 to 80 footcandles on the product compared to 50 footcandles with fluorescent lamps.

The stores’ power consumption with the LED lighting has declined to 11 watts per fixture from 17 watts per fixture (with fluorescents). The results include an energy savings of $405 per store annually. The maintenance savings is even more significant: $4,050 per year.

The use of ceramic metal halide (as a replacement for halogen) has also had a positive impact, both in energy savings and store appearance.

“In going from halogen to ceramic metal halide, the store looks brighter,” Rau said, “and we didn’t lose any color. Plus, there is a tremendous payback on ceramic metal halide.”

Office Depot: At Office Depot, reducing energy consumption is a top priority. While the chain has already made significant progress (see story, page 94), it also has a number of ongoing initiatives, including a custom metallic reflector retrofit.

The retrofit, a conversion of six lamps to four lamps, will result in the removal of nearly one-third of the bulbs from stores, with no light-level reduction. In addition to being good for the environment, the retrofit will result in a high energy savings for Office Depot.

“The project will virtually pay for itself due to the high ROI,” Jeffrey Rosenholtz, senior manager of capital projects, Office Depot, Delray Beach, Fla., told G4R attendees.

Another current project is the installation of omni-directional sensors in receiving areas. With the sensors, the lights turn off after the allocated time, and store managers can tell when someone walks into the receiving area, which provides an additional measure of security. The reduced lamp usage provides for a significant energy savings, so much so that the sensors are expected to pay for themselves in a year, according to Rosenholtz.

Additionally, Office Depot is installing super-efficient hand dryers (Xlerator, from Excel Dryer Inc.) in the restrooms. The dryers have resulted in reduced paper-towel expenses and associated labor, reduced maintenance expenses associated with plumbing, and cleaner restrooms for employees and customers.

“The Xlerator hand dryers have a payback of about one year,” Rosenholtz added.