Home Depot: The DIY Advocate

With sales of $5.5 billion, 155 stores (each with about 50,000 different kinds of building materials, home improvement supplies, and garden products) what Home Depot does has impact. So it stands to reason that president Annette Verschuren's bold decision to launch the Eco Options line - before it became trendy - would seamlessly marry cause and action with big results.

With sales of $5.5 billion, 155 stores (each with about 50,000 different kinds of building materials, home improvement supplies, and garden products) what Home Depot does has impact. So it stands to reason that president Annette Verschuren’s bold decision to launch the Eco Options line – before it became trendy – would seamlessly marry cause and action with big results.

Inspiration

Canadians are more concerned than ever about environmental issues such as air and water quality, deforestation, electricity shortages, and climate change. But these concerns have to be translated into action to achieve positive, long-term change.

In partnership with its manufacturers and environmental partners such as Summerhill Group, Home Depot Canada created the Eco Options brand to merchandise and market better environmental choices to consumers. Eco Options is designed to draw consumers’ attention to best-in-class products that benefit both the consumer and the environment, making complex issues surrounding the environment understandable and actionable.

Execution

The brand’s merchants actively identify and procure innovative environmental products to bring into the mainstream home improvement market. To ensure that each Eco Options product meets these standards, suppliers must answer a series of detailed questions regarding environmental product attributes as well as company policies and practices. Supporting documentation must be provided to verify each product’s compliance with the ‘eco-friendly’ criteria.

Furthermore, the brand provides a comprehensive training program for all store associates on the environmental and cost benefits of Eco Options products.

And to complete the circle, the Eco Options brand also includes in-store signage and reference materials for customers to learn more about innovative environmental products if an associate is not available. An Eco Options sticker on the price tag of each qualified product includes icons which indicate the main reason the product qualified for

Eco Options branding.

Marketing

Website

Homedepot.ca/ecooptions provides consumers with a series of how-to articles explaining environmentally friendly home improvement projects.

Magazine

Eco Options, which launched last fall, includes articles and useful tips on natural gardening, energy-saving appliances, and clean air alternatives, all to help consumers create a healthy home. The free publication, which is currently published twice a year, is distributed in-store.

In-store seminars

Seminars are conducted by staff or external experts to increase consumers’ awareness and provide information on the benefits of purchasing and using the products. They also offer guidelines on environmentally friendly home improvement projects and increase awareness of environmental issues.

Cross-country campaigns:

• Power$aver Tour

In the summer of 2006, Home Depot partnered with Hydro One to run the Power$aver Tour in small cities and towns in Ontario. The ‘roadshow’ was part mobile store and part community outreach/engagement vehicle, with trained advisors and hundreds of Eco Options products such as timers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and motion sensors designed to save energy and money.

• Keep Cool

The Keep Cool program is Canada’s largest room air conditioner (RAC) recycling program. This program uses public awareness and incentives to encourage the retirement of old, inefficient RACs that use up to 70% more energy than newer, Energy Star-qualified models. Participants who bring an old unit in receive a $25 Home Depot gift card. Old RACs are recycled and ozone depleting substances are properly contained by certified technicians.

Results: The three-week Keep Cool program in June 2006 netted 14,193 old, inefficient room air conditioners, an increase of 245% over the previous year’s program. In partnership with the Clean Air Foundation, seven utility companies and the federal and provincial governments, the program resulted in a total savings of 9.5 megawatts of electricity

and 3,634 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

• Bright Ideas

This is the largest residential energy efficiency program in Ontario history. It began in fall 2005 when, over the course of seven weeks, all City of Toronto residents were eligible to pick up two free compact fluorescent light bulbs at Home Depot. The program also included a Seasonal LED Holiday Light Exchange program which encouraged consumers to get rid of their energy wasting traditional holiday lights in exchange for a voucher toward the purchase of energy-efficient LED lights.

Last fall, the Bright Ideas program was relaunched and this time the campaign also included the opportunity for consumers to bring in their inefficient halogen torchiere lamps in exchange for a rebate on energy-efficient compact fluorescent torchieres.

Results: In partnership with Summerhill Group, Toronto Hydro, and Enwin Powerlines, 175,330 compact fluorescent light bulbs were distributed to Home Depot customers. In addition, consumers dropped off 14,576 old incandescent holiday light strings to be properly recycled and 4,785 halogen torchiere lamps were retired.

Overall results

Eco Options sustainability programs have been unsurpassed in Canada. Since 2004, sales

of the line have been steadily increasing. LED lighting sales,

for example, have increased by almost 2,000% from 2004, and CFL sales have surpassed traditional lighting sales for the first time in Home Depot’s history, clearly demonstrating people’s real desire for greener options.

Currently, there are over 1,300 qualified Eco Options products. Home Depot’s objective is to double this number in 2007.

Home Depot actually modified their core business to reflect their sustainability mission. This is clearly a case of changing the way you do things to improve the world…and not just picking a cause du jour to support, the way most businesses do.

Marc Stoiber, Change

Home Depot’s Eco Options program is…strategically focused and [and has] broad impact. It demonstrates that the company has woven environmental leadership into its product selection and development process, which in retail is a core competence.

Will Novosedlik, Chemistry Corporation