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Switzerland: Lidl plans the branches of the future with Empa

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Discount Retail Chain Lidl Switzerland (owned by the German Schwarz Gruppe) is committed to a sustainable energy strategy. With ISO 50001 certification, Lidl Switzerland has been committed to continuously optimizing operations in its stores since 2014, promoting sustainable energies and thereby reducing CO2 emissions. Another important component of the strategy is the planning and construction of new stores.

New stores are to be built according to an innovative energy concept as early as 2021. "It is very important to us that our future locations are future-proof and sustainable in terms of building materials, energy consumption and technology," says Reto Ruch, Chief Real Estate Officer of Lidl Switzerland. The Lidl Switzerland initiative has great potential: the more than 140 Swiss stores together have the energy consumption of a medium-sized Swiss city. Correspondingly much energy can be saved with the right technology.

As a basis for the optimization measures and for the concept of future stores, the status quo of existing stores must first be analyzed. Lidl Switzerland is supported in this by Empa's Urban Energy Systems Lab. Together with the Empa spin-off Sympheny, the team is examining the energy consumption and the interaction of the various systems such as heating, ventilation and cooling, product cooling and freezers, the photovoltaic systems and the e-charging stations at existing Lidl locations.

The stores of the future

On the one hand, specific optimization measures are derived from the findings of the study. These can easily be applied to existing stores and help to reduce energy consumption and emissions. On the other hand, alternative energy systems are being tested by means of computer simulations, for example an expansion of photovoltaics, the use 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 work to further improve sustainability, continue to reduce emissions and optimize energy management," says Empa researcher Curdin Derungs. In this way, research and industry are working together to design the stores of the future.

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