Should we fine businesses who leave doors open in winter?

Via elephant journal
on Dec 30, 2009
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Update via Pedestrian Shops on Twitter: “@elephantjournal So glad to see this impt issue discussed. We adopted our ‘Closed Door Policy’ in Aug 08.

Update via Downtown Boulder Association, which we love (they support so many local, indie businesses): George K owns Art Source, not Art Mart, and the doors at Art Source are closed! We’re checking to see if they’re always closed, or closed today…

Update: David Bolduc, a family friend and founder of the Boulder Bookstore (and BIBA, which we sponsor, see ad at left), just called my cell while I was putting together a Rat Packy slideshow with Robbie Stout‘s assistance for BMOCA’s huge New Year’s Eve Party to support the arts…and informed me that they’ve won all kinds of energy efficiency awards. In Summer when doors are open they use swamp coolers, which are equivalent of a few light bulbs…

…and in Winter, David said that, partially because “I’m tight-fisted with spending money on energy bills!,” they hardly heat the store beyond body heat and the lights, though it seems wonderfully cozy whenever I’m there. I gave him kudos, said I’d republish and push this to our award-winning twitter and  Facebook Page, and correct our prior info. I then asked David why others couldn’t use swamp coolers, like Laughing Goat or The Cup, and he said transitioning energy systems was awfully expensive.

My suggestion to David and others who are doing the right thing, even if it looks like they’re “leaving the refrigerator door open” in summer and letting out heat in the Winter: put a sign on the door that says: come on it! Our doors are open only because heat/AC is eco-responsible or something along those lines. That way, your patrons will know, and appreciate, that you’re trying to do the right thing.

Seth Brigham, resident troublemaker, just sent me his letter to Boulder’s Daily Camera. And he’s onto something, this time, I say.

We here at elephant have complained about the practice of leaving doors open in winter, talk about Global Local Warming, or Summer, when the AC just flies out the door, like your shop was a giant refrigerator with the door open. Still, many business owners (including {see correction under Update above} the Boulder Bookstore, owned by Buddhist buddies of mine) keep their doors open so that customers will come in more, so that they’ll be able to pay rent and mortgage and for children to go to school…

It’s s tough one.

From Seth Brigham:

I took note of Teresa Fosters’ “letter” about the irresponsible business owners on the Pearl Street Mall.

If you walk down the mall you know them, the ones that leave their doors open in the midst of winter weather.

This is a “practice” that has been going on since I came to Boulder in 1983.

Specifically, Teresa spoke of Art Mart’s unwillingness to close their doors, even when requested to do so.

art mart boulder

… (incorrect info deleted re Art Mart, George K, Art Source) …

If it costs a hundred dollars to get caught with a dog on the mall, why not the same for keeping your doors open when it’s freezing outside?

Obviously, regulating behavior is necessary as greed is too powerful a force to think that people will act responsibly on their own.

And, I’d like to see the Chamber of Commerce opinion on this matter, this waste of energy.

~ Seth Brigham


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14 Responses to “Should we fine businesses who leave doors open in winter?”

  1. sethbrigham says:

    Thanks for getting a debate, possible action going on this matter.
    Let's go cause some trouble down on the mall.
    We'll do an emergency door closing act of environmental madness!!!!

  2. Anon. Downtown says:

    George K. owns Art Source, Not Art Mart. Please correct the article.

  3. Anon. Downtown says:

    That's Art Source International, whose door was closed last I looked. Get your facts straight as least before you rant, Seth.

  4. We've fixed it. That's our bad, we shoulda caught that! I'm making corrections very public via twitter and facebook, as this stuff can effect folks' reputations of course.

  5. Via Pedestrian:

    Closed doors can help save the world


    For additional information contact Richard Polk
    303-444-6319 [email protected]

    Boulder, Colo., August 8, 2008– Pedestrian Shops, a locally owned and operated shoe retailer, posted the following notice of a new energy policy with climate-changing implications on their shops today.

    Closed doors can help save the world…

    Beginning today, August 8, 2008, the Pedestrian Shops are keeping their doors closed to save energy.

    The locally owned shoe stores will operate with closed doors when their air-conditioning or heat is on, keeping the cold – or in the winter, warm – air from escaping into the outdoors.

    "Conventional retailer thinking is that open doors are welcoming while closed doors turn away customers," said Richard Polk, president of the family-owned Boulder business. "We believe our customers want us to conserve energy and keep the inside of our stores comfortable rather than keeping the doors open.
    This simple policy can save a huge amount of energy and money, while preventing tons of climate-changing carbon from entering our atmosphere each year."

    Polk urged other businesses to follow The Pedestrian's lead and keep their doors closed.

    According to a recent survey by the Long Island Power Authority, as many as 65 percent of retail stores kept their doors open when temperatures were above 80 degrees (see…. ).
    Twenty to 25 percent of the electricity they consumed was found to have resulted from keeping their doors open, with air-conditioned cool air spilling onto the sidewalks. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than a half-billion tons of carbon enters the atmosphere each year from operating heating and cooling systems in the United States.

    It is likely that retailers' use of simple, low-cost strategies like the Pedestrian Shops' can reduce the national carbon footprint by as many as a hundred million tons, Polk said. Internationally, climate-correcting hundreds of millions of tons are a possibility.

    The Pedestrian Shops have been selling the world's most comfortable brands of shoes since 1969. Their green business practices include shoe drives to help those in need, Eco-pass employee bus passes, wind energy, high efficiency lighting and recycling. Recently Pedestrian began operating a 10Kw solar power plant that produces electricity equal to 50 percent of the needs of their office, warehouse and largest shoe store, while preventing 27,000 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere every year.

    For more information, see

  6. Good man for doing it. A contact at Daily Camera says they might, might want to do article on this important local (and nat'l) business issue. Could be very influential if folks started reading about it, and thinking about it, via the Camera.

  7. sethbrigham says:

    I contacted the "envirnmental writer" Laura snider to give her heads up this morning about the idea for this stroy, especially, since it involves a council member.

  8. sethbrigham says:

    Better check his doors!

  9. sethbrigham says:

    It's not the first time made a mistake, my bad.

    But, still, lets wall them in with bricks if we find their doors open!

  10. sethbrigham says:

    but look it here, my fvorite Council person put it on her priorities for 2010 !!!


    LIBRARIES—want to have a series of public forums and study session on our collective vision of our library system in Boulder. I will elaborate further at the retreat but want to include funding and a plan for completing the N Boulder Community Plan and build the North Boulder library, identifying other facility needs in the other branches, establishing what Boulder expects as standard library hours, identifying the true costs of these measures, and identifying mechanisms for funding.
    CLIMATE ACTION PLAN–several priorities include:
    Implement RECO’s and begin on CECO’s
    Franchise negotiations with Xcel and exit measures
    Concentrated solar/ solar farm/ Valmont
    Make 2010 “YEAR OF THE TREE”
    Preservation of historic trees
    Goal of tree planting to offset GHG
    Continue working with 6400 Arapahoe and Recycle Row implementation
    Fully review our fleet of vehicles and elimate SUV’s in the fleet as much as possible and trade out with hydrids, plug-ins, electrics, bikes, etc
    Preservation of historic trees
    Goal of tree planting to offset GHG
    Work with the retail community to eliminate the “open door” practices seen in frigid winter months and hot summer months
    Preservation of historic trees
    Goal of tree planting to offset GHG
    AFFORDABLE HOUSING—need to revisit several priorities in the city’s affordable housing policy include:
    Mobile homes and mobile home owner rights
    Who is building affordable housing
    ADU’s, OAU’s (private options)
    % cash-in-lieu, other inclusionary zoning policies
    Size of unit provided (setting and implementing standards); consider concept of % of affordable housing = % of total square foot” rather than current practice
    Existing housing stock
    Other methodologies or partnerships with private sector—what works?
    BUDGETARY: where else can improvements be made?
    Identify what if any ballot measures on the fall ballot—any new policies / changes?
    Establishment of a hotline where the public can call, make suggestions for improvements, and report wasteful actions they may have witnessed
    Rethink the amount we spend on outside consultants and reconsider using internal staff more for advice
    Continue improving on walk and bike-ability throughout Boulder continuing to working with BVSD, CU, Naropa, etc
    Maintenance and safety of current system important
    Continue negotiation and involvement on Jefferson Parkway, Rocky Flats, Gross Reservoir, Candelas
    US 36
    How do we incorporate more public art into our landscape—funding?,, support?, land use regulations?
    More art events in Boulder as revenue generator
    Want to get to a common community vision and mechanism of funding by end of year—workshops, public forums, committee
    Need to be aggressive on this

  11. Via Seth, who emailed this to George K and others:

    Sorry for the mistake.
    George owns Art Source.
    My mistake.
    10 lashes.
    But, still, let's crack down on those business owners around town who do this.
    GK may still be guilty.
    Heck, I drink out of plastic bottles!
    $100 fine every time!


  12. elephantjournal says:

    Via our friend, Ben, who helped cover the opening of the Tesla showroom for ele:


    I saw your post about the doors open in winter time. Kind of a coincidence, I twittered from urban outfitters about them having their door open. It's ridiculous. I meant to take a picture, but above the door, they literally have a sign that says "door shall remain open during store hours." What makes it worse is, THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A DOOR. The door was taken off the hinges. That's how much they insist on keeping people from shutting the door.

    I get why they do this: retailers believe that closed doors keeps browsing consumers from coming in. But think of the energy wasted, the money. It would be interesting to know how much money they spend in the winter months heating a room with a gaping hole to the outside, and then compare that to assumed sales.

    As far as fining retailers- it might be a stretch. I would much rather prefer making them look silly in some way.

    Ben Holland
    Outreach and Marketing Coordinator
    Rocky Mountain Institute
    [email protected]

  13. […] to find: that going green is hard, that business owners (like our new Councilperson, George K. “don’t care” about closing business doors in winter), that even lazy liberals fear “Big […]