Property General Manager
In the retail game, businesses are always looking for opportunities to reduce their overheads and attract new customers. Coles’ commitment to Green Star-certified stores boosts its ability to do both. Achieving a 4 Star Green Star rating for its Hallam store in south east Melbourne in June 2015, Coles has proved that sustainability and supermarkets are a winning combination for business and the environment.
Green shops are a growth industry, with compelling international research confirming that green retail buildings – those with good natural light and ventilation, high-performance heating and cooling systems, and materials low in harmful chemicals – are not only more efficient and cheaper to operate, but can also improve the experience for customers and the return on investment for owners.
A study by Hershong Mahone in 2003 demonstrated that increasing the amount of natural light in stores can increase sales by up to 40 per cent, while research comparing the financial performance of green-rated banks over non-certified branches in the US saw the sustainable stores generate an incredible $461,300 more in sales per employee.
With benefits like these, it’s little wonder that Coles has made Green Star-certification part of its long term strategy to grow and sustain its supermarket business.
“Fitout churn in the retail sector is traditionally very high and waste management is also a really big issue for retailers. By working with the GBCA to develop a Green Star rating tool, customised for its unique operating environment, Coles has found ways to manage its impacts in both these areas, as well as drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slash energy and water usage,” says GBCA Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew.
“Perhaps best of all, Coles is leading by example and demonstrating to competitors and consumers alike that sustainable supermarkets have a place in the Australian retail sector.”
Gaining this Green Star rating is one significant way we are achieving our sustainability goals.
The vast array of eco-friendly, organic and vegan products that now occupy prime space on supermarket shelves is proof that Australian attitudes to sustainable consumption are changing.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s 2010 Green Shopper Summary Reportdemonstrates that sustainability can serve as an important point of difference for retailers and provide a marketing edge over competitors.
The survey found 80 per cent of consumers think about environmental issues when shopping, while 96 per cent place importance in a retailer’s efforts to reduce their environmental impact.
Coles began working with the GBCA in 2009 to develop a Green Star rating tool to drive the delivery of a ‘supermarket of the future’ and now has a model for supermarkets that are more efficient and cost-effective to run, and more comfortable places for people to work and shop.
“Using Green Star to guide the design, construction and operation of supermarkets not only helps Coles demonstrate its commitment to good corporate citizenship, but also helps Coles tap into the growing segment of the market that will choose a more sustainable store over less green one. Coles’ commitment to Green Star is great for customers too, because it is a clear, trusted symbol of quality that can be easily identified through the greenwash,” says Ms Madew.
Coles Hallam consumes 70 per cent less water than a standard supermarket of a similar size. Fixtures and fittings, such as bathroom taps, toilets, urinals and showers, were chosen because of their water-saving power.
Rainwater is captured in a series of water tanks with a total storage capacity of 150,000 litres, which is reused for toilet flushing and heat rejection equipment. As a result, the yearly water saving is around 780 kilolitres – enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool three times over.
Supermarkets – with their high demand for cooling and lighting – are traditionally energy-hungry buildings. A typical supermarket consumes around 1.8 million kilowatt hours in electricity each year – generating a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 260 passenger vehicles.
Refrigeration, operating 24 hours a day, equates to around 60 per cent of total store electricity consumption. Lighting and power to run equipment and appliances are the next largest demand, amounting to around a quarter of electricity consumption.
At Coles Hallam, a range of energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting the entire store, and high-performance heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems, have reduced electricity consumption by around 23 per cent, when compared with standard supermarket design.
High-performance heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems are delivering 50 per cent more fresh air into the building in comparison to minimum standards, while highly-efficient chillers and heat reclaimed from refrigeration cases supplies heating to other areas of the store while delivering a 15 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Coles Hallam is also the first supermarket in Australia to undergo a Life Cycle Assessment, a valuable exercise that has helped the company make comparisons between different materials and products and pick the most healthy, efficient and sustainable options.
Coles Property General Manager Sam Pinchbeck says that Coles is proud to be the first Australian supermarket chain to develop a Green Star rating tool to support its sustainability initiatives.
“We have already used our Green Star rating tool to guide the design and construction of our supermarket at Hallam, and now have the opportunity to measure and manage continual improvement in the sustainable design of our supermarkets in the future,” Mr Pinchbeck says.