Hudson Bay Company (Hbc) has come a long way since beginning as pioneers in the Canadian fur trading business over 330 years ago. They have evolved into one of Canada's largest retail chains, consisting of the Bay, Zellers, Home Outfitters, and Hbc.com.
Recently, Hbc became pioneers in the energy conservation movement. They realized it was possible to conserve natural resources by conserving energy usage from their lighting and HVAC equipment.
In turn, they began saving millions of dollars.
"Hbc began as a group of fur traders gently intruding on the environment in canoes and conscious of their environmental impact," said Fred Ware, C.E.T., senior manager, Hbc energy, environment. "Today, we remain committed to reducing our footprint on the environment. Our goal and social responsibility is to reduce our usage of non-renewable natural resources in all our operations. By doing this, we ensure a sustainable environment for our company, customers, and partners. These changes have also contributed to reducing our bottom line expense."
Energy seems to be the last issue most corporations think about, even though costs from lighting and HVAC energy usage can run into millions of dollars each year. However, Hbc realized energy from scarce non-renewable natural resources, would become more volatile and expensive over the next few decades. They began looking at energy as a potential area for improvement.
"When Hbc decided to analyze energy, we wanted to create a sustainable environment for our corporation," said Ware. "We want to continue to grow for another 300 years and protect our environment as we do so."
Ware believes implementing an energy savings program takes a team with vision and patience, finding and planning the right strategy. According to Ware, "First and foremost, you need corporate commitment, which we have at Hbc."
External team members include Lennox, HVAC contractors and many other vendors working to support Hbc's move toward major energy conservation.
Michael Mechanical, an HVAC contractor and Lennox dealer, won an award from Zellers, a division of Hbc, by suggesting some energy improvements for one of their stores. The contractor visited the store and informed Zellers about the lighting and HVAC system, making small improvements to increase efficiency and lower energy usage. Michael Mechanical also gave store employees some tips to conserve energy. No capital expenditures were used to create this energy savings—only employee awareness. These improvements saved HBC 14%—over $10,000 per year—on energy costs.
"We've all worked together to measure, track, and benchmark to obtain our initial results," said Ware. "A major task after our research was to educate our store associates that their actions, such as electricity usage affect the bottom line."
As a significant step toward conserving energy, Hbc joined the Energy Innovators Initiative (EII), a program under Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, in 1999. EII is a federal program that helps commercial businesses and public institutions become more energy efficient.
Hbc wanted to make certain they would not need to retrofit their stores again for many years. Their goal was to reduce energy usage to 25% lower than the guidelines set by the Canadian Model National Building Code, ensuring the program's longevity. By meeting this code, Hbc also receives government funding to help offset expenses used to create this energy conservation goal.
"Energy standards will rise in the future, and we want to be ready for that," said Ware. "Things we do today will ensure sustainability down the road.
"By meeting these government energy conservation requirements, we receive help for our expenses. The government comes in and audits Hbc stores to measure energy conservation levels before allocating government funds."
Zellers department stores are 120,000 square feet, while their Home Outfitter stores are 35,000 square feet. It was important to make good energy decisions that worked for every store.
Store lighting and display lighting was a major focus of energy efficiency, while HVAC systems were another. Hbc opted to use Lennox® high-efficiency L Series® rooftop unit on all newly constructed and retrofitted stores.
The L Series units are available in 3- through 30-tons and feature energy efficiency ratings up to 12.2 EER, some of the highest available on the market.
"We chose the L Series unit not only because it had low operating and energy costs," said Ware. "The L Series unit is durable, flexible, and convenient to maintain. It made our decision easy.
"We also used economizers to receive free cooling and Novar controls to maximize our energy reduction."
To date, Hbc has implemented major energy retrofits on 273 of their 459 stores and saved $15 million. They plan to retrofit 30 stores per year.
"Hbc has done a lot of benchmarking and tweaking," said Ware. "We're continually making improvement for energy conservation and the longevity of our company.
"We want to be around another 300 years."