May 17, 2012
United Supermarkets is harvesting the sunlight in its West Texas operating region to reduce energy use in its stores, CEO Robert Taylor said in a recent interview with SmartBrief.
“We’ve got dimming effects now in lights so that the more light we’re bringing in [from outside], it automatically dims the overheads. And we’re using more spots versus trying to flood the whole area, and we think we’ll see a huge amount of energy savings,” the executive of the 50-store family-owned grocery based in Lubbock, Texas.
A major challenge is managing refrigeration in the dog days of summer. The stores recently converted to reach-in coolers with doors from open-air merchandisers, and Taylor mistakenly thought customers would push back on having to open and close doors to get their products. “I think everybody understands that you’re conserving, so that has made a huge difference,” he said. “Any grocery store uses a lot of refrigeration, but a grocery store when it’s 108 degrees outside uses a ton of refrigeration, so we’ve done a lot of things in the system [to make it more efficient].”
The grocer is an active recycler and has been engaged recently in trash audits. “We actually go in there and empty all the trash and make sure that we’re sorting the trash like we’re supposed to,” Taylor said. “Plastic recycling has nearly doubled since we started the trash audits. At some of the stores, we donate the land to put in the dumpsters so people from all over that area can come sort their trash. If you’ve got it already pre-sorted, you get a lot more pure recycling.”