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[7 comments]

Retail TouchPoints: Starbucks Engages Employees to Reduce Energy Usage With Real-Time Feedback

August 10, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Starbucks announced an energy-saving pilot project in conjunction with Lucid, a provider of real-time information feedback, to teach, inspire behavior change, and save energy and water resources in buildings.

The project will test and document measurable energy savings in 10 Starbucks retail locations. Paired with a 30-day competition among the 10 Starbucks stores using Lucid's Building Dashboard platform, the pilot project was adopted to promote behavior change through real-time energy usage information, employee engagement and focused energy savings strategies.

More specifically, the program encourages Starbucks employees to identify conservation strategies that will help reduce the amount of energy required to run their stores without impacting customer service. Stores will evaluate the energy savings derived by providing employees with real-time energy-use data, which helps demonstrate how behavior changes can result in a retail building's energy savings, and encourages friendly competition among stores. The pilot will run for at least one year, and complements other energy efficiency and sustainability goals embraced by Starbucks throughout its retail locations.

"We have committed to reducing energy and water use in company-owned stores by 25 percent by 2015," said Jim Hanna, Environmental Stewardship Director at Starbucks, in a press release. "This pilot project demonstrates our ongoing desire to meet our customers' expectations of providing a premium experience while at the same time constantly evaluating our environmental performance."

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Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions: Will structured energy-saving goals become notably bigger incentives for retail staffs over the next three to five years? What will spur employee engagement around energy savings?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

What's the likelihood that energy-saving goals will come with bigger incentives for employees over the next three to five years?

Comments:

Energy is a real -- and growing -- problem at retail and something has to be done about it. "Cause-oriented," companies -- think Starbucks, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, REI, etc. -- may rely on employee self-motivation and commitment to help ease the energy burden. Everyone else will have to incorporate it as a new SOP.

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Ryan Mathews, Founder, ceo, Black Monk Consulting

I like the concept, but energy costs will continue to rise with all the government regulations, Hence the awareness to cut back. There are ways to save with new lighting, and new bathroom toilets and sinks that can be effective. To run the daily operation, and still cut 25% usage is going to be tough, as the Starbucks footprint isn't that large. Service should never suffer, as it is their strength, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

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Tony Orlando, Owner, Tony O's Supermarket & Catering

This sounds like a worthy endeavor...but baristas (I've raised 2) are plenty busy. I have a hard time imagining how this is going to scale beyond the pilot phase.

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

Identifying specific behaviors and their relationship to energy savings is a good idea. Saying "reduce energy use" is not as effective as identifying specific behaviors that could result in savings. Identifying specific behaviors will also allow management to decide whether change in a specific behavior will impact service to consumers. The test, however, needs to not require a lot of time and effort on the part of the store managers because they will not find the time unless specific rewards are tied to the activity.

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Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D., President, Global Collaborations, Inc.

Energy savings is not only critical to companies but critical to the country. The companies and the countries that are most energy efficient in the future will be the winners. Unfortunately, energy efficiency on everyday busy activities has not been the mantra of companies. Energy has historically been cheap and habits are hard to change. Programs like this will help. But, everyone must see it as important before it becomes too critical.

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Gene Detroyer, Professor, Independent

I don't think the point of this is really to save energy, it's to do something that flatters their image of being green and trendy. Starbucks' Marketing Department (and Management) seem to have been working overtime lately announcing one do-gooder proposal after another, and you have to give them credit for it... if the ideas actually accomplish something, so much the better.

'notcom'

To think that people (some) accuse me of being negative. Until I read the other responses here, I thought that encouraging employers to engage employees in improving the business by which they are employed was one of our RW mantras.

Perhaps I am being overly idealistic (moi???!!!) in thinking that employees might just possibly perhaps occasionally improve performance, including customer service, if they feel they are valued and making a useful contribution to the business.

How silly of me to forget that government regulations might make operating a business more expensive rather than looking at long term benefits for everyone. Perhaps I have lived outside the exceptional US of A for too long.

But it still, in spite of the other comments here today, strikes me that encouraging retail staff to help reduce energy usage is a good thing with potentially very positive and perhaps even unexpected results.

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Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire

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