Photo: LIDL Växjö

How DO you create the world's greenest retail store?


When a brand new store concept was up for development, the grocery chain Lidl wanted to reach new heights in sustainable solutions in a commercial building. Here are a few insights on what we did to meet their ambitions.  

Lidl wants to be the industry leader in sustainability and environmental responsibility. This includes achieving ISO 50001 certification, and the associated training of all employees.

So when a brand new store concept was up for development in Sweden, the goal was clear: To develop the world’s greenest retail stores. 

The project covered three stores - in Växjö, Södertälje and Upplands-Bro north of Stockholm with the intention to use the lessons learned across all of Lidl’s new stores.

As LIDL's partner we used the first three stores to understand what was possible and identify the challenging areas during the design and production phase.

Eco zones, solar cells and recovery of waste heat from refrigerators 

So let's zoom in on some of elements of the new store concept.

The need for a sustainable energy supply was a cornerstone throughout the project. To achieve this, a solar cell system was installed at the Växjö store and recovery of waste heat from refrigerators, freezer counters and cold storage rooms also make an important contribution. 

Furthermore, the store is equipped with moisture-proof solutions and good thermal comfort to meet the future predicted increase in precipitation levels. 

To help communicate Lidl's bold environmental ambitions, we decided to develop eco zones in the parking lots, designed to benefit birds and insects in the immediate area. 

Photo: LIDL Växjö

Motion detectors control the lighting  

The lighting inside and outside the store consists of energy-efficient LED lighting, controlled by presence and motion detectors and timers, designed to reduce energy demand. 

In addition, the store has a sedum roof, which contributes to maintenance of ecological values, and a safe and weather-protected bicycle storage facility to encourage customers and staff to come to the store on their bikes.

If customers or staff prefer their electrical car or bike, the vehicles can be re-charged at one of the fast-charging stations generated by solar cells. 

Reuse or recycling is another key element in the new store concept, and throughout the project, there was a strong focus on the use of responsible suppliers, and robust, healthy, and low-emitting materials. 

Named the world’s greenest retail store 

Our common efforts and strong collaboration paid off:  At the BREEAM Awards 2017, the new Lidl store in Växjö was named the world's greenest retail store, with the classification ‘Outstanding’.

Since then, another two stores have reached the 'Outstanding' classification, and we are cooperating with Lidl on several new stores, where we will apply the lessons learned from the award-winning store in Växjö.

Companies not taking sustainability seriously will fall behind

We are in the middle of a major change: Companies that are not paying attention to sustainability will end up at the back of the field. 

Lidl’s determination to become the industry frontrunner has been vital for their strong results. 

They have emphasised that the entire company is behind their ambitions. It was this dedication that drove the success of the project. 

Get in contact

COWI employee Johanna Millander

Johanna Millander
Water and Environment, Sweden

Tel: +46 10 850 13 73