This is part of a series of posts on ‘clean energy jobs’ opportunities for sparking meaningful employment, quickly, in the United States as discussed in Clean Energy Jobs: Stimulate Me.
Clean Energy Jobs Go the Market: $4 billion year for 80,000 jobs
In too many grocery stores across America, turning the aisle into a refrigerated section can require wearing a parka — even in the middle of summer. Looking from overhead, too many grocery stores have black roofs. And … well, energy inefficient practice after energy inefficient practice. Grocery stores, nationwide, are ripe for cleaning up with Clean Energy Jobs. Not only are the requirements clear, the solutions are straightforward, the financial return is tremendous, and this has the potential for kickstarting some jobs quickly while enabling stores to make more profits even while giving them the opportunity (which we can hope they’ll seize) to pass on some of the savings to their customers.
Grocery stores and supermarkets represent one of the largest and most important customer segments in the energy services marketplace. There are approximately 127,000 grocery stores and supermarkets in the United States, with combined annual sales of over $425 billion. After labor costs, energy expenditures are the leading operating expense for most supermarkets and grocery stores.
a 10 percent reduction in energy costs for a supermarket facility can translate into as much as an eight percent increase in gross profit!
Walmart has been aggressively pursuing energy efficiency (and greening) of its stores, from white roofs to adding dehumidifiers (makes the air conditioners run more efficiently and allows them to raise temperatures two degrees without customer complaints) to motion sensors controlling LED lighting to doors on their refrigerated sections to rainwater catchments to many other things. Their overall return on investment: 45 percent per year.
Budweys Supermarkets, which has stores in North Tonawanda and in the Town of Tonawanda, is upgrading to more efficient fan motors and defrosters in its refrigerator cases. The company projects it will recoup the $35,000 per store cost within one year of energy savings.
And, as of earlier this year, there is even a platinum LEED grocery store in Maine.
Now, the savings and value chains aren’t just in energy costs. White (‘cool’) roofs last longer than traditional roofs. Having refrigeration sections closed with doors doesn’t just cut energy demands by 70% or so, but also reduces food spoilage. Skylighting does just reduce lighting energy demands, but also fosters happier workers and customers, boosting both productivity and sales.
While the savings’ potentials are clear, lets face facts: while it would make financial sense for every single grocery store (and chain) in the nation to pursue (aggressively) greening, there are many non-fiscal barriers to making decisions to invest in energy efficiency. A Federal program to assist (not fully pay for) grocery store energy investment investments could spark a significant boost to this business sector’s engagement with greening, with many benefits to be had from it:
- Reducing waste in the energy system (fostering reduced cost)
- Reducing carbon footprints
- Reducing the costs of delivering food to American households
- Sparking sales in sectors, like refrigerator manufacturers, that are stalled with dim employment prospects.
- Fostering greater societal infrastructure for energy efficiency (both through business activity building capacity to execute projects across the nation and in educating store employees/customers about some clean energy benefits and options)
And, it would create JOBS! And, do so quickly.
An $8 billion program, $4 billion per year, would create 80,000 jobs and foster potentially $1-2 billion per year in reduced resource costs across America’s 125,000+ grocery stores and supermarkets while creating a culture, throughout this sector, of the value of continued investment in further clean energy as new opportunities come to reduce costs via low-hanging fruit.
Relevant sites re grocery store energy use include:
- DOE Energy Star Grocery Stores
- Focus on Energy: The Energy Efficient Grocery Store
- National Grid: Managing Energy Costs in Grocery Stores (4 page pdf)
Clean Energy Jobs series posts: