WEB EXCLUSIVE: Kohl’s Employs DOE Better Buildings Challenge

This Web Exclusive is contributed by John Fojut, vice president of corporate sustainability for Kohl’s Department Stores. Having joined the company in 1981, he has held leadership positions in store management, logistics, transportation, facilities, and sustainability.kohl's

Kohl’s is dedicated to the community, and part of that commitment includes taking care of our shared environment. Every day, we focus on sustainable operations including energy reduction, waste management, and the design and operation of more than 1,100 stores. Our teams also collaborate with organizations that help advance our environmental strategies through industry recognized programs and resources.

The results of our strategies and partnerships are clear. As an EPA ENERGY STAR partner since 1998, Kohl’s now has nearly 800 ENERGY STAR certified locations, which means they are among the top 25% of retail stores in the country for energy performance.web exclusive

Kohl’s is also proud to be a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge, which aims to make commercial and industrial buildings at least 20% more energy efficient by 2020. Joining the Challenge provided for additional collaboration and resources in achieving operational goals and made a public statement about our commitment to saving energy and hope for other companies to do the same. Kohl’s has pledged to reduce energy in more than 112 million square feet of occupied building space by at least 20%.

As part of our work with the Challenge, we leveraged our store in Niles, OH as a test location to observe energy savings challenges, identify energy savings opportunities, implement solutions, and learn key lessons that can be rolled out across additional stores nationwide.

Kohl’s Store In Niles, OH: Case Study For Energy Reduction
The 87,300 square foot Kohl’s store in Niles, OH is a common size and prototypical design for many of our existing stores. The location had an ENERGY STAR score of 63 prior to beginning the implementation of the energy savings project in September 2011. This score indicated room for energy improvements, as stores with a score under 75 are not eligible for the ENERGY STAR certification. For comparison, the nearby Kohl’s store in Highland Heights, OH has an ENERGY STAR score of 84, yet is the same size and was built at the same time as the Niles store. The Niles location offered an opportunity to investigate the energy efficiency discrepancies between the two same-sized stores, as well as improve the Niles store’s lower ENERGY STAR score.kohls_store

We began by benchmarking the store’s energy use to identify opportunities for reduction. As part of our sustainable operations strategy, we keep a close eye on stores’ energy usage with an energy management system that monitors building performance, including the lights, temperature, and HVAC systems at all stores. We can then benchmark a specific store’s energy usage, continually monitor systems, and gather detailed information for each location to get a better idea of where improvements can be made. These details shape the strategies that improve system efficiencies throughout the building portfolio.

Three key solutions were identified to reduce energy use at the Niles store. One of the largest energy savings opportunities identified included replacement of the roof top units (RTUs) which were at the end of their life cycle. In September 2011, we installed high efficiency RTUs and sub-metered all electrical systems, including the RTUs, plug loads and lighting. This was an important step as it allowed us to better understand electricity consumption. Secondly, a recommissioning of the control systems was performed in April 2012 to ensure the energy efficiency improvements were properly installed. Lastly, data gathered from the energy management system revealed opportunity for lighting upgrades.

There are distinct considerations for lighting in a retail store when conducting lighting upgrades. While energy efficiency is a priority, we must also consider the atmosphere for customers and associates with a focus on comfort and safety. Because of the importance of customer experience, lighting is also extremely important so merchandise on the sales floor looks its best. In the fall of 2012, the store underwent a comprehensive lighting upgrade including lighting on the sales floor, in stockrooms and offices, and exteriors. This was accomplished through several stages of improvements to the existing lighting fixtures, as well as upgrading LEDs for ambient light throughout the store.

Shining Light On Energy Savings
After the lighting changes were implemented at the Niles store, subsequent energy use there was measured. The results demonstrated that the usage level met expectations for the anticipated energy savings. We estimate an annual energy savings of 20% from the year-long project at the Niles store.

The store is now meeting the criteria for ENERGY STAR certification, which we expect to receive in the coming months.

Since 2008, Kohl’s has improved energy performance by 7% percent across its portfolio. As we strive to advance environmental initiatives and reduce costs through efficiencies, we look forward to continued success. Our participation in the U.S. DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge is a natural fit with our approach of testing, learning, and implementing new programs on a broader scale, and we will continue to explore additional opportunities and locations for improved efficiency.