More and more companies in retail and along its value chain want to become climate neutral. This trend shows how relevant sustainable action is for profitability or securing the livelihood of companies. However, the approaches to sustainability and climate neutrality are so diverse that they can lead to uncertainty in prioritization and ultimately lead to delays in the implementation of concrete measures. In addition, different departments are responsible for these topics in the companies, so the coordination effort is correspondingly high. The current study “Climate neutrality in retail & for other companies” carried out the EHI and Microsoft together shows the status quo of climate initiatives and gives an overview of the most relevant recommendations for action on digitization, energy, supply chains, production, buildings and circular economy. For example, the use of fossil-generated heating heat is already declining sharply, especially due to the expansion of heat pump technology in the trade. Electricity procurement and generation are also increasingly being converted to renewable sources. In addition to the planned multiplication of photovoltaic power in retail, the industry is also increasingly switching to green electricity in terms of electricity.
Trade equips its roofs
The installed photovoltaic power on the roofs of German retail chains is currently increasing sharply. According to the study, a multiplication of the previous performance values is partly planned in the next 5 years. 9 percent of companies do not plan to expand further in the next 5 years. 32 percent want to increase their performance by up to 100 percent. 41 percent want to double or quadruple these over the next 5 years. 18 percent even plan to increase 3 to 10 times the previous stock in the next 5 years. The electricity provided by the trade at the charging stations for electric vehicles is already 71 percent green. 75 percent of the dealers surveyed already use climate-friendly heat pump technology in new buildings as standard.
Digitally networked solutions
However, sustainable commercial buildings require an ever-increasing control and regulation effort with regard to a climate-friendly energy budget in the overall system. Photovoltaic systems on the market roofs are part of a renewable energy system. Charging stations can serve as virtual swarm storage in the future. The management of heating and cooling systems also requires digital control. 29 percent of the savings potential in the management of thermal energy is accounted for by intelligent control and regulation. The payback period of these relatively cost-effective measures is 1 to 3 years. Nevertheless, there is still potential here.
Recommendations for action
In order to exploit the potential, a company-wide, holistic approach is required that takes into account all processes of the value chain. In addition, appropriate organizational structures and central responsibility in management should be established in order to dissolve the current silos of individual departments and technologies – only then will the effects of the sustainability initiatives be holistically measurable, can be evaluated and transferred to a priority list of measures. “For the retail industry, sustainability has become an issue that is relevant for all business processes and at the same time promotes profiling towards end consumers,” says Xenia Giese, Senior Industry Advisor Retail & Consumer Goods at Microsoft Germany, and co-author of the study. On the way to climate neutrality, however, complexity represents a real challenge for trade. This is exactly where we start with our current white paper: Together with the EHI, we bring structure to the diverse options and show concrete approaches and solutions in the most important fields of action.”
Foundation of the Climate Neutrality Initiative in Retail
The EHI has on the 16th May launched the Climate Neutrality Initiative in Retail. Here, the knowledge of the experts is to be structured and networked across companies in order to lay the foundation for industry solutions on the way to climate neutrality. With the initiative, the EHI, together with companies from industry, consulting and planning, will contribute to a more structured and in practice more usable information situation on the way to climate neutrality in retail.
The study “Climate neutrality in retail & for other companies” is available as a free white paper.