Interview with Lars Reimann, Head of the Environment and Energy Department at HDE (German Retail Federation)
Practical, informative and effective: The recently launched “Retail Climate Action Campaign” (“Klimaschutzoffensive des Handels“) helps retailers cut energy consumption. The initiative of the German Retail Federation (Handelsverband Deutschland, HDE) and network partner adelphi shows that even right from the start, the simplest measures can help save money and protect the environment.
Mr. Reimann, your guide “Quick Ways To Save Energy – It’s Easy to Make More Money“ gives tips and offers a checklist. What are some actions companies can take to easily initiate climate protection measures?
The Climate Action Campaign aims to help small and medium-sized businesses to conserve energy and subsequently reduce business operating costs. Of course this also reduces CO2 emissions, which benefits the climate. Our guides present the initial steps and assist retailers in the actual implementation. At the outset, the emphasis is on getting an overview of consumption levels, which is followed by concrete measures – for example, replacing conventional lighting systems with LED technology, proper maintenance of installations and equipment or a review of existing energy contracts.
The Climate Action Campaign is a joint research project and is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) with funding provided by the Energy and Climate Fund as part of the National Climate Initiative (NKI).
Your guide also recommends getting employees engaged in energy savings. Why?
Small and medium-sized retailers are usually already working at full capacity in their day-to-day operations. When energy savings and climate protection measures are added to their To-Do list, it makes more sense to get everyone involved in the process. Ultimately, a company can only conserve energy if everyone does their part: with the right user behavior and a keen eye for possible ways to be more energy efficient. A climate protection project in a company can encourage team spirit in the workplace and be a lot of fun!
What a great idea: You introduce best practice examples on your www.hde-klimaschutzoffensive.de website, which include Metro and Reformhaus Hintz. These companies save money with their implemented climate protection measures. Can you give us an example?
Our success stories show how other companies managed to save money with climate protection measures. By switching to LEDs, Reformhaus Hintz (Health Food Store Hintz) saves about 5,000 Euros per year. But having more cash in the bank isn’t the only benefit: products can be better showcased with these lighting solutions, while temperatures at the store during the summer months don’t increase from heat emitted from lights. This is especially important in food retailing.
Where do you see the biggest stumbling blocks for retailers – especially smaller-sized businesses – when it comes to climate protection?
Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that many retailers simply don’t know how they can save energy. That’s why they hesitate to make any investments. Many of them are unfamiliar with the technical equipment in their companies and are overwhelmed when it comes to improving their heating and cooling systems. Meanwhile, costs savings are possible even without major investments. In some cases, a few simple steps and changes in user behavior are enough to achieve significant savings. Many retailers shy away from the murky waters of funding options once the first steps have been taken and larger investments are on the horizon. We also assist in these cases and provide contacts of retail energy consultants and an updated funding database. With a just a few clicks, interested parties can find out whether they can get funding for planned climate protection measures and consulting services.
What are the goals of your Initiative in Germany?
Over the course of the project, meaning by 2020, we aim to eliminate 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Our support services are designed to foster energy efficiency and climate protection measures of small and medium-sized companies and help position their companies for future growth. Climate protection is also an issue that is well accepted by customers.
You just hosted an event – what was the response to your efforts?
We have just celebrated a wonderful kick-off to the Climate Action Campaign at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, which is also a supporter of this project. The response is enormous and our concept seems to have hit the nail on the head. We feel confident that we can all do our share to positively affect climate change. Economy, politics, and society are likewise challenged to play their part and get involved. We hope that the retail industry will become a good role model for others and that more climate protection projects will be initiated in the near future.