Hardware Retailing

AUG 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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August 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 97 member website, membersonline.com, True Value recognized Brinkmann's as the first net-zero retailer in its co-op. But Ben says achieving net-zero energy consumption is a milestone for the entire retailing industry, despite others who have claimed that spot. In 2013, Walgreens made national headlines when it announced plans to build what it claimed would be the first net-zero energy store in the United States in Evanston, Illinois. The building design included new technologies, and store officials hoped it would be a model for retailers elsewhere. But in order to achieve net zero, a building must generate more energy than it consumes. A year later, in 2014, data showed the Walgreens facility had fallen short of that goal when averaging energy consumption over a year's span of time, according to a report in the CIBSE Journal, a monthly magazine for building services and related professionals, in January 2015. "We achieved net zero in our first year," Ben says. "No other retailer that I know of can prove that, so I like to think that we are the first. We just didn't get all of the national attention Walgreens did." Regardless of the absence of national fame, Ben and his family are forging ahead with a plan to be a completely net-zero energy company by 2025. They recently completed construction of their Sayville store, which will replace their existing operation in town. That 22,000-square-foot building includes office space for the company's headquarters and should also generate more energy than it uses. Ben promotes the unique energy-efficient features of the store to customers with his "Running on Sunshine" marketing campaign to explain to customers how the building is run completely on solar power. One piece of that campaign is an in-store diagram of the building showing how each of the systems work together to save energy. The program has been well received by his customers, and he hopes it will encourage others to consider what they can do to reduce their own environmental impact. He also hopes his company becomes an example for other retailers who want to be not only more fiscally responsible and save money, but also show their care for the environment. Adding a geothermal HVAC system or installing solar panels may not be an option for everyone, but making the switch to LED lighting or upgrading insulation on the roof can offer big savings for low up-front costs. "This initiative was really born from our love of the outdoors and our desire to be on the cutting edge of what's happening," he says. "This is something that will serve our family business well past the next generation." Energy Savings by the Numbers The Brinkmanns now have two net-zero energy retail buildings, in New York—Sayville and Miller Place. Using solar panels, they produce more energy than they consume, which means they have eliminated their carbon footprint. Here are numbers from the Miller Place location, which has been in operation long enough to show historical data of energy savings at the building. Miller Place will produce kilowatt hours of energy annually. 126,402 The amount Miller Place will save annually on utilities. $35,000 40 The equivalent number of trees Brinkmann's will be planting due to its reduction of CO2 emissions.

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