Retailers can capitalize on energy management and see ROI as high as 30 percent

by Michael Lotfy, Senior Vice President for Smart Building Solutions, ABB

Multi-site retailers are under tremendous pressure to increase sales, cut costs, and provide shareholders with consistent revenue and earnings growth year-over-year. They are expected to deal with competitive, political, and socio-economic conditions that threaten margin by reducing differentiation and affecting costs. At the same time, they must also create and maintain a superior customer experience.

The only way to succeed in such an environment is to take control of those aspects that can be controlled, starting with the building design. This is especially important in a retail environment because the positive or negative effects that the design has on a multi-site retailer’s bottom line are compounded when the retailer replicates the design with every new store.

An energy-efficient facility is the product of an energy-efficient design and a successful, energy-efficient design should be based on three fundamental philosophies:

  • Use only the most appropriate energy-consuming equipment.​
  • Base decisions and selections on total life-cycle costs rather than up-front costs.
  • Allow for operational flexibility.

Before selecting air-handling and lighting equipment, for example, retailers should examine mechanical designs and the space available and review energy usage data from existing stores. This information will help them select the right types and quantities of equipment and decide where to place it.

HVAC has taken on a new significance in the age of COVID-19. Research by ASHRAE indicates heating, cooling, and ventilation systems can be used strategically to help reduce airborne exposures. With HVAC systems sized correctly for the buildings they serve, air quality monitoring should reveal the building is adequately ventilated.

There are of course many other challenges related to HVAC systems in retail shopping environments. A recent ABB project illustrates this.

We worked with a retail chain with more than 100 stores that was experiencing a host of problems from inconsistent temperature set points (leading to simultaneous heating and cooling in the same space) to irregular operating patterns, no insight to key asset and site data, and no means of ensuring lights are off, temperatures are reset, or service work was conducted. Not surprisingly, the company was experiencing rising energy costs.

ABB deployed an energy management system (EMS) that has cut energy usage by 137 million kWh annually​ and reduced CO2 emissions by 192 million lbs. per year. That’s equivalent to removing 17,400 cars from the road. Intelligent load management reduces environmental impact even further​.

Energy management is a superior energy investment​, with proven ROI as high as 30 percent. It can also avoid the need for additional utility infrastructure​, and it’s available “on-demand” when needed​. This is a great example of how efficiency comes with its own business case.


On Tuesday, March 16, ABB will host “Building for a Better Tomorrow,” one of the year’s largest online events for the smart building sector. One of the webinar sessions will focus on multi-site retail buildings, an important segment of the smart building landscape that is poised to realize tremendous cost savings with the wider adoption of automation.


About the author

Michael Lotfy is Senior Vice President for Smart Building Solutions business for the Electrification Business in the Americas at ABB. He joined ABB in 2007 and has held various managerial positions within the organization working in various countries around the world building the building automation business.

Previous articleNational Grid in JV to build New York green hydrogen storage, delivery project
Next articleCalifornia center launches to help e-mobility early-stage companies achieve commercialization

No posts to display