Costa opens first ‘zero-energy’ coffee shop

Coffee shop chain Costa has launched a new 'Eco Pod' cafe concept, incorporating an array of innovative energy-saving technologies that could have a huge impact on the future of sustainable building design in the hospitality sector.

The Whitbread-owned company partnered with retail property specialist Hammerson to launch the new store within Wrekin Retail Park in Telford, Shropshire, last week.

The coffee shop, which took just 13 weeks to build, achieves ‘zero-energy’ – whereby the energy produced is equal to or greater than the energy consumed – through passive ventilation and innovative construction techniques which minimise the energy required to heat and cool the building.


The low amount of energy that is required for building temperature control come from solar PV cells embedded in a specially curved roof.

Key design features of Costa’s Eco Pod coffee shop include: –

– A special timber frame constructed using FSC-sourced timber as an alternative to a traditional steel frame, reducing the embodied carbon footprint of the building
– A super-insulated facade using soft wood with excellent energy retention properties; keeping more heat in during the winter and also helping to keep the interior cool in summer
– Intelligent orientation of the building to achieve optimum levels of sun and shade, impacting on overall energy requirements for heating and cooling
– PV solar panels on the roof
– An under-floor heating and passive ventilation system

The building design features are what give the coffee shop its overall ‘zero energy’ score. Internal operating equipment – including espresso machines, Panini grills and dishwashing equipment – all use power in a conventional way.

Sustainability leader

Costa UK and Ireland managing director Jim Slater said: “This is an exciting first for coffee shop and retail design here in the UK and has the potential to transform not just how we build new stores at Costa but the industry far more widely. We wanted to explore new ways to serve quality coffee to our customers while managing our environmental footprint as responsibly as we can.

“Through a successful partnership with Hammerson, we have developed an outstanding new type of test bed building design which really does have the potential to make a massive difference if rolled out more widely.”

According to the company, “lessons learned from the Eco Pod test bed at Telford will be incorporated into future new build stores” – which would inevitably drive down energy consumption across the business and could set a precedent for other café and restaurant businesses.

Hospitality giant Whitbread, which operates more than 1,800 Costa coffee shops across the country, has become recognised for its progression in the area of sustainability. Last month, edie reported that another of Whitbread’s brands, Premier Inn, had become the first hotel business to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM rating at design stage, for its Hub by Premier Inn hotel in London’s Covent Garden.

Whitbread was one of the winners at edie’s Sustainability Leaders awards 2014, earning an accolade for its innovative approach to water management. Read more here.

Green buildings at Sustainability Live 2015 

Like what you see here? Green buildings will be a key theme at Sustainability Live 2015 in April, with a number of keynote sessions and panel discussions focusing on the opportunities for improving building performance and energy efficiency, retrofit strategies and the future energy management of commercial buildings.  

Find out more and register to attend Sustainability Live 2015 for FREE here.   

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie