With their excessive fluorescent lights and gigantic energy-sucking coolers, convenience stores are at the bottom of the green building totem poll. But 7-Eleven Japan found success with an eco-friendly store prototype that they will now officially open in 100 different locations by the end of the month. The green stores use LED lighting, solar-powered electricity, and reflective flooring to reduce the need for harsh overhead lights.
The roof mounted solar panels will account for a third of the stores’ electricity, and sensors in the indoor lights will automatically adjust the lights when less power is needed. 7-Eleven’s eco-plans also call for the renovation of 100 existing locations. They’ll be converted to run on solar power and outfitted with electric charging stations for EVs.
The main obstacle to the green convenience stores, called eco-konbinis, is the price. A green 7-Eleven costs as much as 30 percent more to build than a normal 7-Eleven. For stores operating as franchises, the cost falls mostly on the owners, typically small businesses. Subsidies from the government offset less than 10 percent of the expense. No details were given on the amount the stores would save on energy bills.
7-Eleven stores around the world have begun implementing greener practices. About 5,000 stores in Taiwan operate as eco-konbinis, and stores in Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong are testing LEDs. In 2009, the first green 7-Eleven in the U.S. opened in Florida.
WHY THIS MATTERS
7-Eleven’s efforts can set an example for convenience stores around the world. Even something as simple as switching from fluorescent lights to LEDs can save immense amounts of energy. A solar energy specialist told the New York Times that retrofitting just 100 7-Eleven stores is the equivalent of taking 600 cars off the road. That’s a huge impact! Now, if only they could make organic slurpees!