Fantastic Four: Central Co-op’s Net-Zero Pioneer Stores

Fantastic Four: Central Co-op’s Net-Zero Pioneer Stores

We've reached a significant milestone by achieving Net-Zero in four of our stores - two of which even surpassing this achievement by earning carbon negative accreditation. This feat not only demonstrates Central Co-op's commitment to environmental responsibility but also sets a high standard for the industry.

Net-Zero status means that a building produces as much renewable energy as it consumes, effectively cancelling out its carbon emissions. Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) rate the energy efficiency of buildings on a scale from A to G, with A being the most efficient. The EPC takes into account a building's energy usage and corresponding carbon emissions.

All four of our new build stores have received outstanding EPC ratings of A or higher, showcasing the Society’s commitment to energy efficiency:

  • Tuxford, Nottinghamshire: A (EPC: 0)
  • Streethay, Lichfield: A (EPC: 0)
  • Stanton, Bury St Edmonds: A+ (EPC: -3)
  • Hethersett, Norfolk: A+ (EPC: -11)

Central Co-op and our programme delivery team implemented a variety of innovative strategies to achieve Net-Zero and carbon negative status, but harnessing the power of solar energy emerged as a cornerstone of our sustainability initiatives.

In 2023, we kickstarted our green energy self-sufficiency initiative to install solar panels across 185 of its retail and funeral locations, representing a comprehensive and strategic effort to embrace renewable energy, reduce environmental impact and enhance operational efficiency. This investment in solar power not only facilitated the achievement of Net-Zero status on the four new stores but also propelled certain locations, such as Hethersett, to reach carbon negativity - where they create more energy than they use and therefore contribute excess clean energy.

Robin Tutt, Property Project Delivery Manager, who oversaw the completion of Hethersett and Stanton, the two carbon negative stores, comments: “Our green energy initiative really shows the impact that effectively utilising roof space can generate. Central Co-op owns the building where our store in Hethersett is located, plus three small trading units on the site which add an extra 3000 square foot of roofing for us to utilise for solar panels. And although we lease the building for our new store in Stanton, we were sure to work with our landlord to specify solar panels as part of the build.”

We also prioritised the adoption of energy-efficient appliances throughout our stores. From state-of-the-art refrigeration cases to LED lighting and low-energy air conditioning systems, these technologies collectively contribute to a substantial reduction in electricity consumption. By embracing energy-efficient solutions, we're not only minimising operational costs but also significantly mitigating the environmental footprint of our stores.

The Society’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond energy consumption to encompass comprehensive waste management practices. Promoting recycling and waste reduction, we've has implemented robust waste management protocols aimed at minimising environmental impact. By prioritising responsible waste disposal and recycling initiatives, the Society ensures that our operations align with principles of environmental stewardship.

Our team made deliberate choices in the selection of environmentally friendly building materials and construction methods, particularly around insulation. By opting for sustainable materials and practices, we minimised embodied carbon in our building projects, thereby furthering our commitment to promoting sustainability throughout our operations. This conscientious approach not only reduces environmental impact but also serves as a testament to Central Co-op's dedication to fostering a more sustainable future.

The efforts towards achieving Net-Zero and carbon negative status in Central Co-op stores and funeral homes are not only commendable but also strategically aligned with the UK government's ambitious targets for carbon reduction in commercial buildings.

The UK government has set forth stringent Net-Zero targets for commercial buildings as part of its broader climate agenda. With the aim of combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions, the government has outlined a roadmap that includes incremental increases to the minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings for commercial properties over the coming years.

Under these targets, commercial property leases in England and Wales will be required to meet a minimum EPC rating of C for new leases by April 2025, with existing leases following suit by 2027. Looking ahead, the government anticipates raising the minimum EPC rating to a B by 2030, as part of its concerted efforts to drive energy efficiency and decarbonisation across the built environment.

Our achievement of Net-Zero and carbon negativity in several of our stores not only demonstrates proactive environmental stewardship but also positions the Society ahead of the curve in meeting and exceeding government targets. By surpassing current EPC requirements and setting a precedent for sustainable business practices, Central Co-op exemplifies a commitment to environmental responsibility that aligns with and supports the UK government's broader climate objectives.

In our mission to create a sustainable Society for all, Central Co-op is setting ambitious goals for the future:

  • Green energy self-sufficiency: The Society is working towards becoming self-sufficient in green energy by 2030, further reducing its reliance on traditional energy sources
  • Net-Zero by 2040: Building on its Carbon Neutral 2030 target, Central Co-op is also pleased to be working with the Science Based Target initiative to set ambitious plans to be Net-Zero by 2040 - committed to creating more Net-Zero new stores
  • Energy reduction: Central Co-op continues to drive down energy consumption in a variety of ways, including LED lighting, adding doors to chillers as well as more efficient refrigeration and freezers

The achievement of Net-Zero status in four stores, with two stores reaching carbon negative, highlights our commitment to sustainability within the retail industry. Through innovative strategies, including renewable energy adoption, energy-efficient practices and waste management initiatives, Central Co-op is on track to not only meet but exceed government targets for energy efficiency in many of our stores. As the Society continues to pave the way towards a greener future, our commitment to environmental responsibility serves as motivation for retailers across the UK.