REWE Group Sustainability Report 2020

Green Building

REWE Group operates stores throughout Germany and Austria. Energy and other resources are used to run these stores every day. The company is determined to systematically reduce the energy that these stores use and to design its buildings in a more sustainable manner.

To permanently integrate sustainability into its company processes, REWE Group has developed an all-encompassing sustainability strategy that is made up of four main pillars: Green Products; Energy, Climate and the Environment; Employees; and Social Involvement. In addition, three areas of action have been defined for the pillar Energy, Climate and the Environment: energy efficiency, climate-relevant emissions and conservation of resources. Activities associated with Green Buildings are part of the areas of action energy efficiency and conservation of resources. REWE Group’s goal is to lower the amount of energy and resources used by its stores by applying the Green Building concept.

RG1: Green Building

Management Approach

“Sustainable products belong in more sustainable stores.” With this commitment in mind, REWE Group set about the task in 2008 to develop a new generation of supermarkets that would bring sustainability to life for customers and employees as well as foster sustainable progress. The Green Building concept of REWE Group combines modern architecture with energy-efficient technologies and the use of renewable energies. For example, primary energy consumption was cut by up to 40 per cent compared with conventional stores. By successfully introducing the Green Building concept, REWE Group has made the environmental and business case for building and operating more sustainable retail properties. Because REWE Group frequently leases its stores, the support of investors and landlords for more sustainable building concepts must be gained. Criteria such as economic value, flexibility of use and commercial development costs are key arguments for this proven construction concept. Evidence of customers’ positive responses to this concept can be seen in above-average customer frequency and the related rise in revenue.

Next generation Green Building

The first REWE pilot store with a new Green Building concept opened in Wiesbaden in May 2021. The pilot store is not an ongoing development of the existing Green Buildings but was deliberately redeveloped from the outset. The building has a wide range of special features.

For instance, the store roof has an urban farming area: the combination of basil and fish farming depends on a closed loop. The excretions from the fish are used to fertilise the plants which are also irrigated with rainwater. This reduces the consumption of natural resources and ensures healthy farming of plants and fish. The production supplies a large number of the stores in the region with basil and fresh fish.

The roof and supporting structure are designed as a plank-on-plank construction, which is an important building block with regard to the use of sustainable materials. The wood is completely visible and has not been treated with chemicals. European coniferous timber from certified forestry management was used in the construction and certified larch wood was used for the weathered external supports. The plank-on-plank design is an innovative supporting framework and the arched structure lends a special shopping atmosphere to the sales area. Another special feature of the plank-on-plank design is that in the future implementation of the concept modularisation of the individual elements will enable building work progress much faster than with conventional methods. With this concept more timber is used in the building and, hence, more CO2 is stored permanently.

The glass front and rear façades of the building provide optimum views into and out of the store for customers and employees and create a pleasant environment. They also ensure excellent use of daylight, which is also provided via a large atrium in the sales area.

Outside the store, an innovative parking layout reduces the sealed area without lowering the number of parking spaces. There is space for at least 1.000 m² of planting area where natural, insect-friendly grass, bushes and many trees will be planted. For a holistic concept, the store will focus on regional and fresh produce. REWE Group is aiming for platinum certification from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) for its pilot store in Wiesbaden-Erbenheim. It will also be a model for the future prototype description and a new multiple certificate from the DGNB. For example, in future there will be different derivations – from stand-alone stores to suburban and urban locations. The new concept will successively replace the existing Green Building concept.

Elements of the current Green Building concept
The concept includes the following elements, which are applied in accordance with business locations’ needs:

  1. Daylight architecture: Ribbon windows on up to four sides of the building and additional dome roof lights facilitate the use of natural light, which is complemented by an energy-efficient LED lighting concept. The natural light tremendously enhances the quality of the time that customers and employees spend in the store.
  2. Organic building materials: The characteristic structural frame of a Green Building is formed by wood, a renewable resource. This is also the case with the front façade and, in many cases, with the roof shell. Environmentally friendly and recyclable building materials are also used in other areas.
  3. Renewable energies: Green Building stores use 100 per cent certified green power, just like all other stores, warehouses and travel agencies of REWE Group. Additional photovoltaic systems will be installed where practical.
  4. Heating: For heating purposes, no fossil fuels are required thanks to the use of heat pumps and the waste heat of refrigeration systems.
  5. Use of rain water: To clean floors, flush toilets and water outdoor areas, rain water is collected in containers.
  6. Refrigeration systems and units: The natural coolant CO2 is used for normal and combined refrigeration and deep-freeze systems. The natural refrigerant propylene is used for plug-in freezers. Buffer-storage units are used to recover heat. Glass-door refrigerated display cases for meat and dairy products help to prevent losses of refrigerated air. The energy efficiency of refrigeration units is increased by using integrated LED lighting systems and energy-saving fans and by forgoing the use of glass heaters for glass panels on freezer units.
  7. Sociocultural factors: Green Building stores are largely barrier free. They are also equipped with restrooms for the physically disabled and with baby changing tables. Factors such as visual comfort, ambient air and bicycle parking places near the entrance are considered as well.

Certification by the German Sustainable Building Council

In 2013, REWE Group decided to apply the Green Building concept to all new construction projects and all new leases in Germany as long as fundamental conditions permitted its use. The sales lines REWE, PENNY and toom Baumarkt DIY stores have received multiple certifications at the “Gold”* level by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). New buildings are designed in accordance with the Green Building concept or the council’s criteria for sustainable construction practices. As a result of the inclusion of the DGNB’s criteria in the sales lines’ building specifications, these requirements also explicitly apply to the property leased by REWE Group. At the end of 2020, 275 buildings had been built according to the Green Building criteria and another 115 Green Buildings are currently in the building or planning phase.

The DGNB’s seal of quality evaluates a wide range of building features. These include environmental aspects, the stages of the construction process and sociocultural factors regarding well-being, including visual comfort, ambient air, bicycle parking places and customer restrooms. The multiple certification of the building specifications significantly simplifies the certification process because the entire concept has already been subjected to a thorough review. This is a key pre-condition for the fast, cost-efficient development of Green Building stores.

* Corresponds to the current classification following a change in the criteria by the building council in 2015.


Stores That Meet the Requirements of the German Sustainable Building Council (Green Building)

Finished Stores That Meet the Requirements of the German Sustainable Building Council (Green Building). Status: the End of Each Financial Year.

2018 2019 2020
REWE 144 179 209
PENNY 25 39 51
toom Baumarkt DIY stores 13 13 14
Warehouses 1 1 1
Total 183 232 275

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