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Sustainable energy for all: Opportunities for the retail industry

Read Accenture's report about sustainable energy for retail industry and learn how it can help support sustainable energy for all by taking five priority actions.


The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society. The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

This report looks at the retail industry and identifies five priority actions it can take to reduce its energy use, while simultaneously driving high performance.


Retailers primarily consume energy in three main categories of operations: stores, distribution centers, and transportation. Additionally, many sell high volumes of energy-intensive products, such as electronics and appliances. Retailers have opportunities across all of these areas to improve operational and consumer energy efficiency, and drive an increase in the use of renewable energy while creating new business value.

Adding renewable energy sources to power operations diversifies the energy portfolio, minimizing risk by hedging against potential rising energy prices and tightening greenhouse gas regulations. Additionally, Accenture research demonstrates that adopting a more sustainable product mix can drive revenue growth by capturing the growing market segment that lives a lifestyle of health and sustainability.


By targeting energy intensive areas such as lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, stores and distribution centres will be able to yield the greatest energy savings and reduce excessive energy consumption.

Accenture research demonstrates that adopting a more sustainable product mix can drive revenue growth by capturing the growing “lifestyle of health and sustainability” market segment. This market segment has demonstrated the willingness to pay a premium for these products, representing a $500 billion global opportunity. Increasing this product mix not only drives top line revenue growth, but also can enhance brand value of the retailer and product itself.

Examples of energy savings to the bottom line:

  • A discount retailer reported its energy management system saved $20 million annually, reduced consumption by 22 percent per store, and realized a return on investment in 18 months.

  • Photo controls can automatically detect the presence of natural daylight, saving between $0.24 per square foot to $0.66 per square foot or 250 million kWh a year.


Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact have identified five priority actions the retail industry can take to become more energy efficient, promote alternative fuels and advance their business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:

  • Increase energy efficiency of operations.

  • Utilize renewable energy to power operations.

  • Increase the portfolio of energy efficient products.

  • Work with suppliers to increase supply chain energy efficiency.

  • Reduce packaging and packaging waste.