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2015 RILA Reports Benchmark Retail Industry's Progress on Sustainability, Energy Management

This week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) released both its second Retail Energy Management Report — a resource for companies to compare energy management programs across the industry and identify opportunities for progress — and its third Retail Sustainability Report, which identifies core components of retailers’ sustainability programs and benchmarks how the industry is progressing on key sustainability indicators.

This week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) released both its second Retail Energy Management Report — a resource for companies to compare energy management programs across the industry and identify opportunities for progress — and its third Retail Sustainability Report, which identifies core components of retailers’ sustainability programs and benchmarks how the industry is progressing on key sustainability indicators.

Data was drawn from responses to surveys completed by RILA member companies. In the case of the sustainability report, respondents collectively represent more than 50,000 locations and $620 billion in global revenue; for the energy report, respondents collectively represent 100,000 locations and $1 trillion in global revenue. The reports’ release coincide with RILA’s 2015 Retail Sustainability Conference, now in its eighth year.

The 2015 Retail Energy Management Report was developed under the Retail Energy Management Program, a RILA initiative that focuses on two key opportunities for improving energy performance for retailers: financial management and leased stores management. The program’s goal is to develop leading practice implementation models, educate the industry, and spur adoption of implementation models for both of these areas of focus. Earlier this year, RILA received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for expansion of its financial management program focus area. The program is sponsored by Schneider Electric, Altenex and Wipro EcoEnergy.

The information in the report was gathered from a 62 question survey of 47 national retail companies about their energy teams, budget and operations. RILA used this information to measure the maturity of respondents’ retail management programs against 23 energy dimensions, as identified in RILA’s Energy Management Maturity Matrix, which RILA developed with the help of industry input.

“This Report continues to be a valuable tool to track the industry’s progress in energy management practices over time, and to benchmark companies’ programs. It is our hope that this report helps retailers identify even more opportunities for growth and provides them with the resources needed to achieve their energy program goals,” said Erin Hiatt, senior manager of sustainability and compliance at RILA.

From the results of the survey, RILA identified four notable trends:

  1. Programs continue to improve — even in the areas where retailers are the most mature, continued improvement in the coming years remains a goal.
  2. Energy managers understand the importance of maintaining relationships with internal and external stakeholders for effectively managing energy consumption.
  3. Retail energy management programs can yield the most results by prioritizing and aligning energy goals with other company priorities.
  4. For each dimension, there is at least one retailer at a “leading” maturity level

“As new technologies and approaches evolve, so will energy management strategies and opportunities for research and leading practice sharing. We look forward to continuing to engage retail energy executives as the industry’s energy management programs evolve and mature,” Hiatt added.

Meanwhile, RILA’s 2015 Sustainability Report tracks the current status and projections of 42 retail companies’ energy programs along 27 dimensions that RILA created to define an effective retail sustainability program.

The report aligns with a tool RILA released earlier this year called the Retail Sustainability Management Maturity Model. In addition to detailing retailers’ current status along each dimension, the report notes where they expect to be in 2017. This provides a valuable snapshot of both current progress as well as future expectations.

“Retailers’ sustainability programs continue to evolve as their focus is honed, business resources are aligned, and the breadth of activities expand,” said Adam Siegel, VP of sustainability and compliance at RILA. “As more retailers build their sustainability strategies and report on their successes, they will further solidify the business case for sustainability. That, in turn, will increase commitment to these programs and expand programs' resources, building momentum across the industry.”

Among the 27 dimensions measured in the Retail Sustainability Report, there are several key findings of note:

  • Strategy, metrics and measurement, collaborative involvement, warehouses and distribution centers, and waste and recycling currently rank as the most mature dimensions for the industry, meaning that retailers have made the most progress in these areas to date.
  • Conversely, the dimensions in which retail companies are just in the starting phase of development are incentives and stakeholder engagement.
  • The sustainability program dimensions that retailers project will grow significantly in the next two years are strategy, materiality and risk identification, goals, governance and executive engagement, employee engagement, marketing campaigns, warehouse and distribution centers, supplier engagement, and waste and recycling.

While previous reports highlighted the major trends and best practices in the industry in a case-study format, this third Retail Sustainability Report complements the first two by providing a detailed view of current and future maturity.

All reports are available for download at www.rila.org/sustainability.

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