Pick n Pay (PnP) On Nicol, near Sandton, the supermarket chain’s flagship green store, opened its doors in October 2010. It has proven to be such a hit that two more stores, replicating much of the design of the On Nicol store, will open soon. The Falls, in north-west Johannesburg is set to open in November 2012, and Chatsworth in KwaZulu-Natal will open in March 2013.

Upon entering the On Nicol store, the natural light, and open connectedness with the outside environment through the large windows and skylights, is a welcome change from the average artificially-lit and claustrophobia-inducing shopping centre in South Africa.

PnP marketing and sustainability director Bronwen Rohland says since opening, PnP On Nicol has experienced continued growth as measured by customer numbers and sales. In fact, the shopping basket value at this store is more than double the average, and the basket size is bigger than the average.

This gives tremendous backing to the cost and benefits theory of green building, namely that green retail spaces attract customers, keep them there longer and encourage them to spend more, as the environment is healthier and more comfortable. Research by the US Green Building Council’s Jerry Yudelson has shown growing evidence of an average of 5% in increased sales from daylight harvesting alone.

In addition to the technology used in the building, PnP facilities and construction management head of department for Gauteng Trevor McLachlan emphasises that behavioural changes in this particular store have delivered astounding results. Rather than having many automated systems for ovens in the bakery, for example, it was decided that constant monitoring of power consumption would take place, so that action could be taken as and when increased consumption was experienced.

Although the On Nicol store is not Green Star SA rated, as it was completed before finalisation of the Green Building Council of South Africa’s Green Star SA rating tool for retail buildings, lessons learnt at this store were useful in the development of the tool. On Nicol has won numerous awards, as well as a nomination for the SAIA-Afrisam Sustainable Architecture Award for 2012.

One of the major benefits of green buildings is said to be the life cycle running costs of a facility that are lowered over the medium to long term

In terms of energy consumption, PnP says that this store is 22% less energy intense than the Gauteng average. Overall, PnP On Nicol is 4.5% less energy intense than other large stores (when normalised for air-conditioning) and consumption during the day, when supply is the tightest and cost highest, is 25% below similar-sized stores.

Solar power in the form of a 100 kW solar PV installation on the roof of the store supplies about 8 000 kWh per month, which is about 4% of the total energy consumption of the store and also significantly reduces the stores carbon footprint. PnP also has PV installations on the roofs of its distribution centres in Longmeadow in Gauteng and Phillipi in the Western Cape.


*Read the full feature in the December-January 2012/3 of earthworks. Images: Christoph Hoffmann (www.chp.za.com).