Written By: Joe Berman
Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, LEED AP BD&C
Lately I have been thinking a lot about systems, synergies and the co-benefits that are the hallmark of Sustainability. I have been exploring the idea that sustainable actions and behaviors actualize the triple bottom line of People, Products and Planet and that when these elements are aligned and in balance, multiple benefits arise simultaneously from the same source.
Recently, I attended the Food Marketing Institute Energy and Store Development Conference in St. Louis, MO. While I was there I was profoundly struck by the pervasive focus on energy conservation through high efficiency building technologies and big data driven solutions. Every manufacturer, product sales representative and service provider that I spoke with was touting the improved performance of their product or process and all were quick to point out how much energy and money I would save if I would just purchase what they were selling. I was incredibly pleased to see the extent to which energy conservation has been embraced as one of the core value drivers for supermarket industry technology! I found everyone that I spoke with was keenly aware of the importance of energy conservation to Sustainability efforts in the industry and all appeared to be interested in pushing conservation approaches to support sustainability goals for the organizations that they worked with.
Though I have recently seen immense progress in the industry towards high efficiency solutions, I believe that a true valuation and dedicated focus the on benefits of green house gas (GHG) reduction potential associated with energy conservation measures is still a significant area of improvement available to food retailers. The majority of the people that I spoke with at the conference were concentrating on the energy conservation and financial improvement aspects of their technology or service. While this is a step in the right direction, I found that few individuals appeared to concentrate on the environmental impact improvements that are such a significant co-benefit to high efficiency approaches. As thrilled as I am that the industry is moving in a more energy conservation oriented direction, we need to be better at understanding and communicating the full impact of this movement, as those capabilities should further motivate us to pursue the entire triple bottom line approach as a guiding motivator.
While we are demonstrating focus on innovative high efficiency technologies and improved economic performance, the environmental aspect of our decision making process needs to be equally considered. We need to be able to hit these 3 birds with 1 stone. If and when the environmental impact reduction of a chosen approach becomes as important a decision making criteria as improved financial performance then we will have truly moved in a more holistic and sustainable direction as an industry.