Sustainability Translates into Profitability

Retailers from across the nation shared their insights and experiences into green building and sustainable operations at

A common theme emerged from the conference, one that was set out by keynoter Yalmaz Siddiqui, director, environmental strategy, Office Depot, who emphasized the link between profitability and environmental stewardship.

“Green is not sustainable if it is not profitable,” he said. “We believe it can be sustainable.”

At Office Depot, being green is saving green in terms of dollars. The chain has experienced a 10% total reduction in energy costs and a 20% total reduction in energy usage, even while increasing its store count some 75 stores annually. Its energy initiatives are all designed to decrease energy expenses while providing high returns for the company.

“The business case for each initiative supports the implementation of the project from an environmental as well as financial objective,” Siddiqui explained.

While retailers have many reasons for going green, a fundamental one has to do with preparedness.

“We think it really is preparing us for emerging needs and risks,” Siddiqui said.

Speaker Jim Hanna, director of environmental affairs, Starbucks Coffee Co., echoed a similar note when he discussed the reasoning for making sustainability a business strategy at the chain.

“One of the reasons is that it is a hedge against future energy instability,” Hanna said. Reduced operating costs also enters into the Starbucks equation.

Presentations at the G4R conference emphasized proven green design, construction, energy and facilities solutions. Leading retailers—including Office Depot, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Starbucks, Kohl’s Department Stores, Limited Brands, REI and West Marine—and consultants shared their expertise and offered advice on sustainability initiatives.

Sponsors of G4R included A-R-E, Excel, Cadence, Evolution Energy & Light, greenfoot, Greenstar, Johnson Controls, Leggett & Platt Store Fixtures Group, MicroPlanet, Palladeo, Prenova, r3Building Systems, Site Controls, TRIRIGA, Underwriters Laboratories, WD Partners and York.