About 20 percent of stores prop open their doors to attract customers during sweltering days of summer with their air conditioning wafting across the sidewalks. Like an open refrigerator, these open doors waste energy, drive up costs, increase pollution and stress the power grid. If stores across the country closed their doors in the summer, it would reduce the amount of pollution generated by 830 million car miles – every year.
I have spent nearly two decades in the clean energy business, creating several companies to commercialize utility-scale wind, solar and wave energy. During this time, I came to realize that one of the quickest and least expensive ways to cut carbon emissions at scale would be the widespread adoption of energy conservation and clean energy usage by individuals. But this is a significant challenge, requiring a cultural shift in how we think and behave around energy, similar to other social movements like local food or recycling.
Last year I founded Generation 180, a non-profit committed to advancing a cultural shift in energy awareness and clean energy adoption. We have created the Keep It Cool campaign, leveraging consumer influence to convince retailers to reduce energy waste in their own communities and nationwide.
The campaign uses a mobile application for consumers to anonymously recognize shops that “Keep It Cool” with closed doors and reaches out to educate retailers who are allowing energy to escape through their open doors. A national map tracks all of the stores that are identified with doors open or closed.
Keep It Cool gives retailers the opportunity to do the right thing and showcase their green values. We believe this is good for business, the community and the environment.
Consumers support this change. According to a nationally representative survey of 1,500 millennials, 62 percent think that this practice is wasteful, and up to 25 percent are less likely to shop at retailers that leave their doors open.
Just the simple act of stores closing their door can reduce pollution significantly. According to Con Edison, a 10,000-square-foot store with doors open wastes about 4,200 kWh of electricity over the summer. Generating this much electricity releases about 2.2 tons of carbon dioxide and other substances – the same amount of pollution emitted by a diesel semi-truck driving from New York to Miami.
In the wake of the Paris agreement withdrawal, many people
feel powerless to have an impact on pollution and climate change. But we have
plenty of opportunities to make changes in our own households and communities.
And closing the doors is an easy and impactful step.