Retail industry goes on a power diet

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Retail industry goes on a power diet

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The power efficiency team at E-Mart replaces the main lighting with more efficient bulbs at E-Mart’s Yongsan store in Hangangno-dong, Yongsan District, central Seoulyesterday. E-Mart plans to reduce 22 million kilowatt hours of electricity usage this year over last. [NEWSIS]

As a possible power shortage looms after the emergency shutdown of two nuclear power plants, the retail industry is coming up with inventive efforts to conserve energy.

E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount chain, said it is saving power and streamlining equipment at its 146 stores nationwide and 2,500 partner companies.

It plans to reduce power use by 22 million kilowatt hours from last year, when it used 932 million kilowatt hours.

Its stores will cut 15 million kilowatt hours by actively participating in the national peak power demand management system and through such energy saving moves as turning off lights and rooftop advertisements.

It will cut an additional 7 million kilowatt hours through its Energy Service Company (ESCO) business, which offers a waste heat recovery system, high-efficiency equipment and energy-saving lighting.

It is also encouraging its 2,500 SME partners to save energy, replace lights and introduce efficient facility equipment.

“After experiencing the power shortage crisis in 2011, we prepared the energy-saving project with our stores and suppliers and have been increasing energy savings,” said Lee Kyu-won, director of the corporate social responsibility division at E-Mart. “In particular, to improve energy conservation by our partner companies, we established a separate task force to make sure our partners participate in the energy saving project.”

Industrial power accounts for 54 percent of total electricity consumption in Korea so reducing the use of electricity by companies is essential to avoid blackouts.

Hyundai Department Store said it is cooling the interiors of its store with the cool morning air by leaving doors open from 6:30 a.m., four hours before the store opens.

The department store said it can reduce air conditioner use by 20 percent.

As air-conditioning in large buildings such as department stores accounts for more than 50 percent of electricity consumption, reducing air conditioner use is key.

Hyundai Department Store’s Cheonho Store in southeastern Seoul has been using a gas-type freezer during the peak electricity time of 2 to 4 p.m. since last year.

It was inspired by the fact that summertime is the off-season for city gas usage, which is mainly used in winter for heating houses.

This year, it will add an ice storage system to mix with the gas-run freezer to minimize the use of electricity.

Lotte Department store said it lowers the temperature of its stores through ventilation, opening all doors for two hours after closing and turning on indirect lighting only where it is required.

It is also replacing halogen lights with more efficient LED lights near escalators.

I’Park Mall in Yongsan, central Seoul, embarked on a Cool Biz campaign asking its employees to wear summer clothes about two weeks earlier than last year.

It is enforcing the Cool Biz code for all employees including office workers as well as sales managers.

The employees of I’Park Mall will work in cotton pants and short sleeve shirts without ties.

However, short pants are not allowed for staff at I’Park Mall.

The summer dress code will continue through Sept. 20.


By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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