The stores of the future

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The status quo of existing Lidl stores will serve as the basis for concrete opti
The status quo of existing Lidl stores will serve as the basis for concrete optimization measures and for the innovative energy concept. Image source: Lidl Switzerland

Lidl Switzerland aims to operate its stores even more sustainably and efficiently in the future. Together with Empa, the company now puts this plan into practice. First, the energy consumption and the interaction of various operational systems in existing stores will be analyzed. Then, the Empa researchers will develop an optimized concept for the stores of the future based on the findings of their analysis.

Lidl Switzerland is promoting a sustainable energy strategy. With ISO 50001 certification, Lidl Switzerland has been committed to continuously optimizing operations in its stores since 2014, promoting sustainable energy and thereby reducing CO2 emissions. Another important component of the strategy is the planning and construction of new stores. As early as 2021, the company will build new branches based on an innovative energy concept. "It is very important to us that our stores that are yet to be built are both future-oriented and sustainable in terms of building materials, energy consumption and technology," says Reto Ruch, Chief Real Estate Officer of Lidl Switzerland. This initiative by Lidl Switzerland offers great potential: Taken together, the approximately 150 Swiss stores consume as much energy as a medium-sized Swiss city. Therefore, a significant amount of energy can be saved by using state-of-the-art technologies.

First, the status quo of existing stores will be analyzed. The findings will serve as the basis for optimization measures and for the concept of future stores. Empa’s Urban Energy Systems lab supports Lidl Switzerland in this analysis. Together with the Empa spin-off Sympheny, the researchers will investigate the energy consumption at existing Lidl locations and the interaction of various systems such as heating, ventilation and cooling, refrigerators and freezers, the photovoltaic systems as well as the e-charging stations.

The team will then derive specific optimization measures from the findings of the study, which can easily be applied to existing stores and will help to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Additionally, the researchers will use computer simulations to test alternative energy systems, such as an expansion of photovoltaics, the implementation of energy storage systems or the optimized use of waste heat from freezers and ovens. "Our goal is to help Lidl Switzerland with our research to further improve sustainability, reduce emissions and optimize energy management," says Empa researcher Curdin Derungs. Thus, research and industry are working together to design the stores of the future.