Case study: why Country Road is embracing energy efficiency

The well-known Australian fashion group is prioritising energy efficiency as part of its broader sustainability efforts. Here’s why.

Country Road Group – which comprises the brands Country Road, Mimco, Trenery, Witchery and Politix – is known for its broad commitment to sustainability. But that’s not the only reason the group recently pledged to improve energy efficiency across its stores, offices and warehouses.

“The great thing about energy efficiency initiatives is that they’re good for the environment but they also save on cost,” the group’s Environment Manager, Lok-Man Shu, said. “That makes my team’s job a lot easier – we can explain to management the benefits of these initiatives in dollar terms. There’s a compelling business case.”

Image: Country Road Group

Fulfilling its promise

Energy efficiency is front-and-centre of Country Road Group’s business plans, most notably at its new Omni Fulfilment Centre in Victoria. The centre was designed from the ground up to be energy efficient, achieving a 5-star Green Star rating upon construction (the first as-built facility in Victoria to win such an accolade).

Day-to-day, this centre sources a relatively small amount of its electricity from the grid, relying instead on a 300kW rooftop-solar system (about 60 times the size of a standard household system). Inside the warehouse, LED lighting provides efficient illumination.

Country Road Group also minimises the cost and energy associated with handling waste on site by reusing the boxes it receives from suppliers for deliveries to its stores.

The bigger picture

Country Road Group has big plans for its climate strategy, Shu said. It’s upgrading the lighting at all premises to LED and optimising climate-control units to provide adequate – but not excessive – heating and air-conditioning. In 2020, the group will roll out a new energy-monitoring tool that will give it better visibility of – and hence greater insights into – its energy consumption. For example, this could help Country Road identify stores that are using unusually large amounts of energy compared to their counterparts. Further action could then be taken to reduce their energy use.

Much more rooftop solar is also planned. “But it’s important to go for energy efficiency first,” Shu said. “There’s no use putting solar on every roof until you’ve minimised your energy usage. Otherwise you could end up paying for a larger system than you need.”

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