23 April 2009 – Woolworths has set the sustainable property bar high for retail, aiming for carbon emissions cuts of 40 per cent by 2015 and water savings of 200 million litres per year, Woolworths’ environmental advisor, Kane Hardingham, told delegates at the Energy Efficiency Forum, held in Sydney on April 8. Following is an edited version of his presentation…

The retail chain has also introduced packaging policies and standards for its private label that will see 3.4 million re-usable crates replace single use waxed boxes.

Sixty three per cent of the emissions cuts will be achieved through savings in electricity usage, with sustainability standards set for all new stores.

T5 fluorescent lighting, 30 per cent more efficient than standard lamps

The retail chain has also introduced packaging policies and standards for its private label that will see 3.4 million re-usable crates replace single use waxed boxes.

Sixty three per cent of the emissions cuts will be achieved through savings in electricity usage, with sustainability standards set for all new stores.

In addition the company is aiming for a 25 per cent cut in carbon emissions for each carton delivered by a Woolworths-owned truck.

The first of these “green” stores are located at Rouse Hill, Victoria Harbour and Pakington Strand in Geelong West.

The Rouse Hill store, opened in 2007, has cut emissions by 36 per cent a square metre (against stores of comparable size and departments).

New refrigeration system slashes global warming potential

One of the most important initiatives in the Rouse Hill store is a cascade carbon dioxide (CO2) refrigeration system. According to Woolworths, the global warming potential of the CO2 used in this system is 3700 times lower than the conventional refrigerants typically used in food retailing.

Automatic night blinds reduce refrigeration energy use by around 10 per cent by trapping more cool air in the refrigeration

The refrigeration incorporates a heat reclaim system that collects the waste heat from the refrigeration and uses it within the store’s air-conditioning. In addition, the system utilises wetted pads to improve energy efficiency. At times of high temperature, water is run through wetted pads to reduce the air temperature via the evaporation of the water. The lower air temperature allows the refrigeration system temperature to be lowered, resulting in improved energy efficiency (in the order of 5 per cent).

Other energy efficient measures include:

refrigeration cases with efficient fans and low heat doors

LED lighting in cases – generate less heat and last longer

automatic night blinds

computerised energy management system (EMS)

use of fresh outside air in economy cycle

reclaimed water used in water cooling

T5 fluorescent lighting – 30 per cent more efficient than standard lamps

LED lighting for external signage – 70 per cent more efficient

motion sensors in back-of-house areas.

replaced conventional vinyl flooring with a polished structural concrete floor

less environmental impact

replaced electric water heating with gas

Woolworths faced numerous barriers to achieving its sustainability targets. This includes existing building limitations, limited capacity of the industry to service some new systems and cost premiums on new technology.