AC Brings Shoppers in From the Heat
conditioning seems to be one of the costs of entry for retailers, especially
in the dog days of summer. But to some, it’s also one of society’s
most shameful signs of energy waste.
summer, New York became the first city to pass a statute banning large
retailers from propping open their doors to lure customers in with
air-conditioning. A year later, a recent survey of 400 stores across
five key shopping areas in the region found that 25 percent of them
were in violation of the law. The survey was conducted by the Natural
Resources Defense Council, which initially pushed for the law.
article points out that keeping doors open can increase energy costs
by as much as 25 percent but can lower temperatures in front of the
store by as much as 20 degrees.
Goldstein, the director of the defense council’s Urban Program, estimated
that 10 to 12 percent of the stores were technically in violation.
The law only applies to stores with more than 4,000 square feet of
space or chains with at least five stores in the city. The article
also noted that rather than openly violating the law, most store employees
didn’t know of its existence.
Mr. Goldstein said air-conditioning overuse is an emotional issue for
it is not the No. 1 issue on the national environmental agenda, it’s
an issue that seems to get New Yorkers riled up,” Mr. Goldstein said. “It’s
symbolic. If we can’t find ways of altering our most energy wasting
behavior, how will we tackle global warming?”
separate article in the New
York Times discussed
the temptations around air conditioning overuse for retailers, which
have been gaining green points for discouraging plastic bag use and
other measures. The article addressed not only stores leaving doors
open but “over air conditioning” in general. It noted that some fashion
blogs have tallied the chilliest retailers in certain cities.
question becomes, ‘How do you define over-air conditioned stores?’,” Daniel
Butler, the vice president for retail operations at the National Retail
Federation and the head of its sustainability group, told the Times. Depending
on the temperature, some customers will think the store is cool, others
find it too hot and “some customers will think it’s perfect,” he said.
practice of leaving front doors open, according to Mr. Butler, tends
to be more common among independents. Larger retailers and malls have
put more focus into energy consumption, with heating and air-conditioning
managed centrally by electronic thermostat systems.
don’t want to waste money by over-air-conditioning their stores,” he
Questions: Should retailers leave their doors open to lure in customers
with air conditioning? Even with doors closed, are retailers guilty
of the eco-sin of over-air conditioning?
- How Uncool
… Stores and Their Air-Conditioning Foibles – The
New York Times
and the Indoor Summer Chill – The New York Times