LAKELAND, Fla. — As an employee-owned company, Publix Super Markets's approach to getting its workers involved in energy management makes perfect sense.
In 2002, the company, based here, launched “Get Into a Green Routine,” a program encouraging employees to be mindful of energy usage that has since evolved to encompass all of the chain's environmental efforts.
“For years Publix quietly, but actively focused on electricity/energy management and responsible waste management and other environmental responsibilities,” Maria Brous, a spokeswoman for Publix, told SN. “Our focus has incorporated responsible practices with proven business value.”
The Green Routine launched in 2002 with an energy conservation contest. Winning stores reduced energy from 10.8% to 18.9%. A similar contest was conducted the following year, and the company seeks to keep employee interest high by creating new educational materials each year.
“We've been able to keep energy consumption around 7% lower than 2001 levels,” Brous said.
The company continues to supply stores with general energy conservation tips on posters, as well as specific hints for each department. It also solicits ideas from stores each year for inclusion in next year's campaign, and supplies stores with monthly reports to track usage.
Included among the Green Routine goals:
To engage every Publix employee to conserve resources and minimize the chain's environmental impact.
Energy conservation measures.
Use of energy-efficient equipment and designs.
Waste reduction and recycling of “waste” materials.
Conservation of other resources such as water, and pollution prevention practices, will be added as programs are developed and implemented.
“The concept is to inform our associates that even the simplest actions, multiplied by other associates, will translate into care for our environment and our company,” Brous said.
Publix's research into energy conservation equipment and technologies dates back to the 1970s, she pointed out. At that time, the company introduced a system to manage electricity usage that monitors store lights, refrigeration system operations and air conditioning; began to focus on energy-efficient building and refrigeration and air-conditioning designs; and launched a heat reclamation program that intercepts waste heat from refrigeration units ahead of the condenser to heat the store's water and serve as a source for space heat.
She cited several energy initiatives that have resulted in energy savings throughout the years. For example, replacing 400-watt lamps with 360-watt lamps resulted in 10% savings, and changing new-store lighting design from high-intensity-discharge (HID) to fluorescent lighting resulted in a 40% energy reduction with improved lighting quality. Other examples include LED case lighting, new track-light technology, anti-sweat controls for refrigerated cases and changing to reach-in milk cases.