7-Eleven Drives Toward Eco-Friendly Stores in Japan

KYOTO, Japan -- 7-Eleven Inc. is pushing forward with its eco-friendly stores on the international scene, with 100 eco-friendly locations to open in Japan by the end of February.

A green project has the company building 100 more such stores in Japan this year and to convert another 100 existing stores into "eco-konbinis" -- the Japanese term for convenience store -- that will be powered by solar energy and equipped with electric-vehicle chargers, according to the New York Times. 7-Eleven hopes to continue the pattern in the coming years. At that pace, the newspaper reported, it would take more than 50 years to convert the 12,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan. However, as the cost of conversion comes down, the number per year will probably go up. Currently, it can cost as much as 30 percent more to build an eco-friendly store than a traditional one.

Still, refitting 100 existing stores will be the equivalent of taking approximately 600 cars off the road, according to Ken Zweibel, director of the Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University in Washington.

One 2,000-sqaure-foot eco-konbini in Kyoto features photovoltaic panels on the roof that generate as much as a third of the store’s electricity, a light-reflecting floor and sensors to automatically adjust the lighting, according to the Times.

7-Eleven, owned by Seven & I Holdings in Japan, began adding eco-friendly elements to its convenience stores in 2008. The Kyoto store is the fourth model to open.

7-Eleven Taiwan has also introduced an eco-friendly prototype, according to the newspaper, but efforts are not as widespread. In addition, 7-Eleven stores in Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong are testing LEDs and 7-Eleven USA opened its first green store in DeLand, Fla. last year.

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