Case Study: Clothing Retailer Reduces Carbon Footprint

One national women’s wear chain is not only focused on making their customers look good, but committed to operating their business responsibly to keep the environment looking good, too. Not only are they driven to inspire their customers, they also invest in programs that minimize their impact on the environment while maintaining one of the industry’s highest business standards.

This retailer integrated this mission into key business practices to strengthen the company’s approach to sustainability, and over time built the necessary internal programs, policies and structures to formalize their commitment. Through simple energy reduction practices,

The company drove energy efficiencies that delivered a 3 percent decrease in kWh per square foot over two years.

To further strengthen their commitment and realize more robust energy savings, the company turned to ENGIE Insight (formerly Ecova) —who was currently providing them with energy and expense management services—to guide them to a more strategic plan. ENGIE Insight created a comprehensive carbon inventory of the entire retail chain and then worked with internal energy and sustainability managers to identify strategic goals and a recommended set of actions to achieve these goals.

Industry and Peer Analysis

The client first wanted to understand where they ranked amongst peer companies when it came to reporting and managing their carbon inventory. ENGIE Insight compared their stores to 22 peer companies, analyzing what each company had set as a goal relative to carbon and sustainability management and what initiatives they had implemented to meet those goals. Each company’s corporate social responsibility program was also graded on their marketing and communications performance as it related to carbon and sustainability management, including carbon disclosure reporting, annual report and corporate website. ENGIE Insight’s analysis provided the client with the insight into how their current program performed against their peers, and where there was opportunity to be more proactive in the future as they worked to become a top performing company.

Site Audits

Because the retailer operates its stores and outlets in a variety of retail environments—mall, lifestyle center, street retail and stand-alone building—there are also varied energy and resource demands. ENGIE Insight’s Facilities and Engineering teams conducted six site audits and discovered numerous savings opportunities at each site. An important fact that was presented to the team was that the store’s energy consumption—and the resulting carbon footprint—is heavily impacted by the site type. Because the building attributes are what drive energy demand, this type of analysis provided a more accurate base of measure for future initiatives.

Once the analysis was complete, ENGIE Insight prepared a report for the client that packaged the various savings opportunities into three levels of investment, with a clear ROI for each. The client then used this information to select appropriate energy and carbon reduction tactics that could be implemented with a positive return and would help to achieve the results they wanted, while also supporting strategic decisions around future goals.

Carbon Inventory

A 2008 baseline year was established through a combination of more than three years of energy use data available from ENGIE Insight’s online reporting platform. Energy use was also accounted for at sites where energy bills were paid for by the landlord as part of a lease contract.

“Because ENGIE Insight already had the energy and site data easily accessible, it made the emissions calculations very easy and required minimal time from our team. ENGIE Insight knows our business and was able to develop accurate profiles for the sites where energy invoices are paid by the landlord based on similar stores in our facility portfolio. This extra step allowed for more accurate calculations.”

The final considerations to complete the client’s carbon inventory were additional contributing factors, because carbon calculations that rely SOLELY on utility bills can miss 20 to 30 percent or more of actual indirect energy use, and result in very inaccurate estimates of true carbon footprint. The collective data was also used to project carbon emission trends for all sites for business-as-usual and a carbon reduction goal for the year 2015.


Taking into consideration the retailer’s projections for growth through 2015, it was important for them to gain an understanding of the current “per store” and “per square foot” carbon intensity trends. The audits and carbon inventory provided this understanding, and were also able to project the impact of emissions if no action was taken.

ENGIE Insight’s carbon team worked with the client to create a goal that they were comfortable with and recommended a strategy to help them meet the goals. Armed with this information, the client’s internal stakeholders proposed moving forward with a phase-in approach of…

Six key projects to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions targeted to produce an ROI of more than 50 percent.

Five projects—including installing motion sensors and timers, closing air gaps and implementing behavioral changes—required little cost and were simple to implement, with payback in as little as two years or less. A sixth long-term project was identified and implemented: using lower-wattage ceramic halide bulbs for general lighting and/or perimeter lighting in selected locations. Not only would the bulbs save energy, they would require fewer replacements (once every three years versus twice each year) and would not generate as much heat, reducing cooling costs.

The ENGIE Insight Difference

Ecova’s breadth of data and knowledge gave the client greater visibility into past trends and future reduction opportunities for energy and carbon. Ecova’s expert team of analysts efficiently and cost-effectively turned the data into actionable information and provided strategic long-term direction on energy, carbon and sustainability management. Ecova used energy efficiency as a starting point for carbon efficiency, resulting in a positive return on investment.

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