By Erin Hiatt & Scott Wood
Best Buy is one of the largest and most well-known electronics retailers in the country. They offer virtually every technology product on the market, from flat screen TVs to cell phones to microwaves, and customers can experience these products first hand in stores every day. It's no surprise, then, that it takes quite a bit of energy to power a Best Buy store.
In 2015, Best Buy set an aggressive goal to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020. To reach that goal, the company needs to significantly reduce energy usage in its retail stores. That's why the company recently set out to quantify just how much energy they were using and identify opportunities for energy savings.
After recognizing that plug loads (the energy used by products that are powered by means of an ordinary AC plug) were a significant source of energy consumption for the company, Best Buy named reducing plug load energy consumption as a priority.
They enlisted the help of Nitin Raviprasad, a fellow in the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps program, to measure and analyze plug loads and to propose both process improvements and new technologies to better manage plug load. EDF Climate Corps is a summer fellowship program that embeds trained, custom-matched graduate students inside leading organizations to accelerate clean energy projects and strategy.
Nitin Raviprasad stands in front of display screens at Best Buy's Richfield, MN store.
Since 2008, over 400 organizations have enlisted EDF Climate Corps fellows to design customized solutions to challenges involving energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy management strategy, and much more. Best Buy participated in the program in the summer of 2016.
Raviprasad's analysis, which is detailed fully in a new case study published by RILA, resulted in more than a dozen solutions, from simple process changes to complex, integrated, long-term solutions.
With an additional investment of $8-10 million and if all of Raviprasad's recommendations are implemented by Best Buy, the retailer could save up to $3.3 million in energy costs per year, or a 3 to 4-percent reduction in energy costs per store. The process by which Best Buy designed its energy consumption analysis is transferable to retailers who need to research a variety of energy loads before piloting a solution.
To learn more about the EDF Climate Corps program, visit here. To access the full case study highlighting Best Buy's findings, visit here.
Erin Hiatt is RILA’s director of energy & sustainability. Scott Wood is manager of the EDF Climate Corps.