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Build It Green and They Will Shop

We received some interesting numbers this week from the Food Marketing Institute, the organization representing retailers in food industry matters. The group's annual study on store development shows a strong trend towards operators embracing sustainability in their building and remodeling plans.

The report, Facts About Store Development 2007, shows that upwards of 34% of the respondents stated they're pursuing sustainability initiatives related to new buildings or remodels, while another 40% plan to do so in the next five years. A lot of the focus right now seems to be on reducing the store's environmental impact by adding refrigeration management programs and "making changes in store design, landscaping or transportation," according to FMI.

As you can imagine, right now, the emphasis is on energy conservation and reduction. Retailers have joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill program like crazy in an effort to minimize leaks in refrigeration systems. They're decreasing energy use with LED lighting, skylights, light-motion detectors and energy-efficient HVAC systems. Some of them are going so far as to install systems that reclaim heat output, and adjusting schedules in an effort to drive energy use to off-peak hours.

Customers might not see all the effort that's going on behind the scenes. But they should be told. Retailers should be sure to publicize their efforts, using bag stuffers, in-store signage or an article in their custom publication.