Costa eyes four more ‘zero-energy’ coffee shops in the next year

EXCLUSIVE: Whitbread-owned Coffee shop chain Costa is planning to introduce at least four more of its innovative 'zero-energy' coffee shops across the UK within the next 12 months, after a pilot store in Shropshire delivered significant energy savings for the hospitality group.

Speaking to edie ahead of his appearance at edie Live next month (scroll down for details), Whitbread’s energy and environment manager for Costa, Oliver Rosevear, revealed that plans are already afoot to construct four more operational ‘eco-pod’ cafés.

Depending on a review of the pilot store, which took just 13 weeks to build, the following eco-pod stores could be constructed under the same ‘zero-energy’ design, whereby the energy produced is equal to or greater than the energy consumed. Rosevear could not confirm exactly where the new eco-pod stores will be located.

“A lot of people looked at our eco pod as a potential one-off and some asked ‘are you ever going to build one again?’ But, because the business case is there, we’re building four new eco-pods under the same design,” Rosevear said.

“We’re coming to the anniversary of the first eco-pod opening, and we’ve got the results of a performance review coming in. But the ongoing data shows that it is operating in line with how we expected it to. We’ve seen the benefits and, therefore, it makes operational and financial sense to introduce more to the market.”

Holistic approach

The eco-pod concept achieves ‘zero-energy’ – even through the winter months – through the likes of passive ventilation systems, LED retrofitting, ‘smart’ coffee machines and a more holistic management approach to enable these various technologies to interact.

The first eco-pod in Telford, which featured a 28KW solar array on its roof, used FSC certified timber to reduce the carbon footprint of the building, and a super-insulated façade and underfloor heating system to boost efficiency.

“We looked into removing heat from the back end of the store and found that an air-source heat pump would not only remove this heat, but also emit cooler air and generate water for us to recirculate,” Rosevear explained. “This has improved the efficiency of the refrigerators in the back as a result.

“We don’t just look at things in situ, instead we actually think about how the equipment interacts. We have to look at how the whole store works rather than individual concepts.”

Leasing collaborations

The eco-pod concept and its results seem to have pleased property specialist Hammerson, which leases the pod to Costa at a slightly higher rent rate, due to the fact that it paid to implement a lot of the sustainable technology. According to Rosevear, Hammerson is fully on board with the concept and has already agreed to lease one of the next four pods in the pipeline – while discussions with a further two leasing companies are already underway.

“From our perspective, the pod is meeting operational requirements,” Rosevear said. “For Hammerson, I think the data from the review will be used to ensure that their investment is being returned at a level that they would hope to see from a standard retail outlet.”

The eco-pod has been nominated for and picked up numerous awards for its eco-pod concept – including making the shortlist of finalists for edie’s 2015 Sustainability Leaders Awards – but, for Rosevear, the biggest achievement is how the concept has opened up future collaborative opportunities between Whitbread and landlords.

“The eco-pod building is impressive,” he said. “It’s an A+ rated building. But for me, the most impressive thing about it is how the partnership worked – it is turning how landlords and tenants can operate on its head. I think that this has to be the way that retail operates in the future.”

Fuel of the future

With plans already in place to introduce a ‘zero-energy’ coffee roastery, Costa – which has been named a ‘Two Star Sustainability Champion’ for its green retail efforts – could also soon be venturing into the world of biofuel to power its stores.

With scientists claiming that waste coffee beans could be a “simple and cheap alternative” for methane storage, and Network Rail teaming up with coffee cleantech firm bio-bean to trial this initiative, Rosevear revealed that there is a possibility that trials of a similar ilk could be on the horizon for Costa in the future.

“Coffee bean biofuel is definitely something we are considering,” he said. “I can’t really say much more than that but, as part of our waste management solutions, it’s something we’re looking into.”

Oliver Rosevear at edie Live

Oliver Rosevear will be speaking on the Energy Efficiency Theatre at edie Live in May, discussing what ‘doing it right’ looks like in regards to excelling with sustainability targets. He will appear on stage alongside representatives from the Carbon Trust, RWE npower and Citi Corporate Realty Services.

If you manage your company’s energy, sustainability, environmental or corporate responsibility, then two days at edie Live will give you a free pass to all the learning, peer-to-peer networking, innovative suppliers and inspiration you need to drive sustainability through your organisation.

View the full edie Live agenda and register to attend for free here.

Matt Mace

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