Jeramey Jannene

Kohl’s Continues To Lead Retail Store Solar Power Field

By - Aug 15th, 2008 12:38 pm
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Kudos to Kohl’s for continuing to push the envelope by powering more and more stores with solar power.

Kohl’s Corp. will expand its solar program to a sixth state, Oregon, with plans to convert four of its nine stores there to solar power. In addition to Oregon, Kohl’s has solar projects in California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Wisconsin. When complete, the company said, the four Oregon installations will together provide up to 900 kilowatts of power and are expected to produce up to 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year. Over the 20-year life of the program, the solar energy produced is expected to offset 12.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide, which is enough energy to power 1,682 households in Oregon annually or the equivalent of taking 1,255 cars off the road for a year. The Menomonee Falls-based department store chain says it is the largest retail host of solar power, and its distributed solar program is the largest in the world among retailers.

Unfortunately it’s not a complete solution to making the store “green” and closer to carbon-neutral, as the company is installing solar cells on stores that are your typical “big box”, surrounded by large asphalt parking lots that encourage (and largely limit your options to) driving to and from the store. This isn’t to say that they should stop putting solar cells on the stores because it’s not a complete solution. It’s really good that they are, they’re pushing the rest of the industry to be better stewards of the environment (and protecting their bottom line long-term). To really inspire and drive change though Kohl’s should consider a more holistic approach.

Two ideas immediately come to mind to add to the solar power component.

1. Invest in porous pavement, which reduces storm water run-off. Couple this with designing new stores to encouraging more walking, less driving (i.e. not forcing walkers from another store to cross a parking lot)
2. Back down from the hypocritical statement saying there wasn’t enough going on downtown and build stores in urban areas, starting with Milwaukee. No surface parking, far less driving, far less energy consumed by everyone.

Categories: Business

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