Retail Facilities and ENERGY STAR
J.C. Penney Company, Inc. began using ENERGY STAR after the organization centralized its energy and facilities functions in 1999. Prior to that, energy bills and facility repairs were often paid at the local or regional level, says Rob Keller, energy management and engineering services director. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Keller says. “That’s huge in this field.”
Today, J.C. Penney has a centralized energy monitoring system in place, a program that starts with the ENERGY STAR portfolio manager tool. The company has more than 700 stores on its energy management system. J.C. Penney added 188 stores to its EMS system in 2007. Stores with the EMS generated an average of 7.6 percent energy savings in the first year, according to the company.
Another 250 stores have advanced metering that allows remote monitoring of the stores by a service provider. “It’s not intended to make a manager an electrical engineer, but just give them enough information to see how much they spent on their utilities versus the same day a year ago in the form of a graph,” says Keller.
The beauty of the program, Keller says, is that it provides the data in very simple form for store managers who can see what’s happening at a glance and take action. A speedometer-like graphic displays the store’s ENERGY STAR score. Colors on the speedometer start at red and progress to yellow and blue. “If you are a merchant, you don’t know what a kilowatt or a therm is and you really don’t care. Now you have a two digit number that makes it pretty easy for you to compare yourself to the next guy,” says Keller.
For now, the company’s energy dashboard remains its most valuable communications tool. With it, store managers started noticing problems with setpoints and schedules — information that normally wouldn’t be accessible to someone without facility training. “It’s amazing how often a store, office or warehouse manager would need to come in at 3 a.m. and have the lights and air conditioning on,” says Keller. The problem was that the settings would not always be returned back to normal for the usual 6 a.m. start time, Keller says.
In another case, the dashboard alerted a store manager that something was dramatically wrong with the store’s boiler, which ultimately needed major repairs. Though the problem took three weeks to correct, without the dashboard the problem would have gone undetected for months until the utility bills were paid, Keller says.
Today J.C. Penney has 46 stores that have received the ENERGY STAR for Buildings label, with a corporate goal of 200. Each of those stores has a sticker on the doors with the ENERGY STAR Label. Those stickers have translated into savings — energy used across the portfolio was held to the same level in 2007 as the prior year, even as 50 new stores were added to the portfolio and operating hours were increased.
With the dashboard rolled out to most of the stores that can support it (some stores are in spaces too small for ENERGY STAR), Keller is working with the internal communications department to create a media plan to share best practices and remind employees about the need to focus on energy efficiency. “We want to communicate what we are doing and recognize the associates,” Keller says. “We want to share with others what we are learning. We’re just trying to ratchet the savings up even more.”