It's no secret to grocery store owners that their stores use massive amounts of energy and have the potential for significant food waste. Grocery store consumption has a heavy impact on resources, greenhouse gases, and climate change, which is why the Manomet Grocery Stewardship Certification (GSC) has partnered with the IGA Coca-Cola Institute to offer a free course, Top 5 Energy Savers. The five operational practices highlighted in the course can save an independent grocer up to $15,000 a year.
GSC Program Manager Peter Cooke says the GSC hopes to boost awareness and engagement levels through the course and partnership. Cooke says, "The Institute has lots of great training topics and we realized that grocery store owners really needed to raise their contextual awareness of some operational practices. That is what we hope to do in the trainings."
Part of that awareness includes understanding the numbers. According to data presented in the course, the average U.S. grocery store sells about $17 million dollars in product annually, but is left with only $300,000 in profit—an average profit margin of only 1.7 percent.
"Grocery store owners realize they need to be resourceful if they want to survive on a 1.7 percent profit margin," Cooke says. "They can’t afford to be wasteful but they can’t afford to take risks on innovative strategies either."
The five steps highlighted in the course "cost nothing to implement and they take hardly any time," says Cooke, "so there is no reason why every grocery store in the country does not do all five." They might seem like common sense, but Cooke says they're not common in practice. "While GSC staff has been to hundreds of grocery stores across the country, we are still in search of a store that has all five in place."
For independent grocers, these small changes can improve a store's energy efficiency and therefore increase that 1.7 percent average profit margin. Because efficiency boosts a store's revenue, one dollar of energy efficiency will generate significantly more dollars of revenue. Cooke explains, "Every dollar of energy costs reduced is equivalent to $18 in revenue." That means that by implementing the five no-cost practices detailed in the course, which can save your store $15,000 a year, the potential revenue benefits could be $270,000.
Preview the five energy savers below.
Check Air Curtain Flow
Make sure the vent at the bottom of an open refrigerated display case is not blocked, so the cold air can recirculate back into the unit.
Close Walk-in Doors
A GSC grocery partner study found that employees leave these doors open 4.5 hours each day on average, which can cost over $4,000 per year in wasted energy. And that's just for one door! They suggest using door alarms to remind employees to close any open doors.
Fix Leaky Walk-in Doors
There are many options for fixing a store's walk-in doors. "Be diligent on inspecting walk-in freezer door gaskets so they don’t leak," Cooke says. Install an air curtain at the entrance to minimize the amount of humidity entering the store. Maintain door seals and prevent and treat any leaks.
Turn Off Appliances at Night
You turn your lights off before bed at home, why wouldn't the same reasoning apply at your store? From leaving hand wrappers on in the deli overnight to keeping soda vending machines outside in the winter, it's important to identify every appliance that is left on when the store is closed and plugged in when not operational or unnecessary for the season.
Switch Off Vending Lights in the Break Room
Turn off the light on this machine for a simple way to reduce energy use and costs, and consider removing the soda vending machine altogether. Your employees can purchase cold soda directly from the store instead.
These operational practices are easy for independent grocers to implement thanks to details outlined in the Top 5 Energy Savers course. "[Grocery stores] can also use existing equipment more efficiently to reduce costs," says Cooke. These small energy savers identified by GSC have helped independent and chain grocery stores throughout the U.S. save at least $15,000 in costs, boost revenue, and lessen their environmental impact.