Retail Stores

There are approximately 657,000 retail buildings in the U.S., a number that represents about 13.5 percent of all U.S. commercial space. These buildings include stand-alone facilities, strip malls, and enclosed malls. Together, they consume approximately $21 billion worth of energy annually, largely from heating and cooling systems which consume approximately 38 percent of the energy used in retail establishments.

Buildings of these types include:

  • Mercantile Group M Buildings
  • Markets
  • Malls and strip malls
  • Car Dealerships
  • Automotive Repair Centers


Efficiency Benefits & Solutions in Retail

Benefits to Retailers from Building Upgrades:

  • Increased profitability
    • Energy savings are reflected on a company’s profit-and-loss statement as reduced operating costs, which directly increase the profitability of a retail operation.
    • Typically, space heating and cooling, lighting, and plug loads such as computers and cash registers together account for nearly 70 percent of retail energy use.
  • Reduced vulnerability to energy price fluctuations
    • Energy prices may be sensitive to numerous external factors, including major weather events and changes in national policies. For some regions, the potential for utility deregulation also lends uncertainty to future energy costs. Reducing a retail facility’s total energy consumption can soften the impact of energy price fluctuations from any of these factors.
  • Increased sales.
    • Improving the energy efficiency of a retail building usually involves upgrades to the lighting and HVAC systems. By creating a more pleasant shopping environment, these upgrades can also attract and retain more customers, leading to an increase in sales.
    • Buildings with abundant natural light have been shown to boost retail sales, decrease absenteeism, and increase employee productivity.
  • Enhanced public image.
    • With growing concerns over global warming and other environmental issues, many retailers want to demonstrate to potential customers that they are responsible environmental stewards. Retailers can upgrade their buildings to be more energy efficient as a way to achieve this goal.

HVAC Settings

Turn HVAC temperature settings down in heating seasons and up in cooling seasons, while still maintaining comfortable conditions, and turn lights off when they are not in use. Increasing the set point by one degree can produce up to 6 percent energy savings – this limits the range of temperatures that the building experiences.  Make sure that HVAC settings in stockrooms, offices, and other peripheral rooms are at minimum settings. Reference this report from NREL using whole-building energy simulation to estimate the energy impact of stepped- and variable-speed RTU fan motor retrofits in the retail environment.


Lighting represents about 22 percent of the electricity consumption in a typical retail establishment, not including its effect on cooling loads. Lighting retrofits can save 30 to 50 percent of lighting energy as well as 10 to 20 percent of cooling energy.  An ENERGY STAR qualified LED exit sign can go 25 years without lamp replacement, compared with less than 1 year for an incandescent sign. Online courses outlining lighting option evaluation and identifying best cases for efficiency retrofits.

Energy Storage & Renewables

Energy storage devices can manage the amount of power required to supply retailers with energy at times when need is greatest. Energy storage technologies include batteries, electrochemical capacitors, power electronics, and control systems. Energy storage solutions enable retailers to control operating costs and maintain a low environmental impact. Some retailers report up to 25% reduction in daily load. See the video below provided by Schneider Electric about renewables in retail:


North Carolina Case Study

Control System Reduces Energy Costs And Keeps Crate & Barrel Customers Comfortable, Product-Focused

Source: Carrier, IE3 Media

This case study shares how a Crate & Barrel retail store in Durham, NC, installed Carrier’s i-Vu control system to meet the needs of the company and the customers. TEC designed a control system that integrated Crate & Barrel’s extensive lighting — more than a mile of track lighting incorporating some 1,000 fixtures — with its HVAC components, including 120 tons of cooling from rooftop units. BACnet® controls were installed on all the equipment in the store, from exhaust fans to lighting zones, plus sensors from BAPI®, Carrier and Veris for a total of 29 devices and 2,715 points. The i-Vu® Open control system by Carrier integrated all components and provided a user-friendly web interface which enabled fluid scheduling of both lighting and HVAC systems, providing store personnel with the capacity to maximize conditions for customers and products alike.


Additional Resources