Cape Town: Pick n Pay Clothing becomes the first clothing retailer recognised by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) for its sustainable approach to refurbishing the interiors of its growing store network.

The Pick n Pay Clothing store in Blue Route Mall, Cape Town, was awarded a 4 Star Green Star Interiors v1 rating, which indicates industry "Best Practice" in evaluating sustainability performance.

Georgina Smit, head of technical at the GBCSA, congratulated Pick n Pay on its sustainable refurbishment project. "This is an excellent achievement. We are proud of Pick n Pay Clothing for committing to sustainability in a way that can be verified, quantified and comparatively assessed. As a clothing retailer, this is a first for South Africa, and we hope it unlocks the potential to raise greater awareness about green buildings with consumers".

Customers visiting the newly revamped Pick n Pay Clothing stores will instantly notice the new "Green is our new favourite colour" design. But, this award goes beyond its decorative features, such as its floor-to-ceiling plant walls and informative posters. The new design principle has fully incorporated environmentally friendly materials.

"Being 'green' is no longer a buzzword to attract emerging customers who care more about sustainability than past generations. It has become a necessity for local businesses as the country continues to face rolling blackouts. As we increase our store footprint, making sustainable changes has a material impact on our bottom line while also meeting customer's needs on wanting to buy clothing from a responsible fashion retailer," says Hazel Pillay, General Manager for Pick n Pay Clothing.

Pick n Pay Clothing is expected to open over 60 new stores in the next 12 months, adding to its standalone store network of over 330 stores.

The store interior has been completely redesigned to meet global green building standards. In the construction, most fixtures are from recycled materials, and 90% of the project contract value is represented by materials and products manufactured locally. Operationally, the stores have new lighting and energy-efficient technology to minimise energy consumption. Various measures have also been implemented to reduce electricity consumption, such as installing Building Energy Management Systems, which has already seen the store reduce its usage by nearly 10% in five months.

80% of stores have also been fitted with Lithium battery solutions as a more sustainable option during load shedding. By the end of April, 100% of stores will be fitted with Lithium batteries.

"We are seeing exponential growth in the adoption of more sustainable building practices. As the environmental and financial benefits of green building became more apparent, we see a greater buy-in across the board and the industry as a whole has shifted," says CEO of GBCSA, Lisa Reynolds.

GBCSA has driven measurable climate change mitigation in the South African property sector through its various certifications since its inception. In the past 15 years, through 905 certifications, the buildings have collectively saved 1,590 million kgCO2/annum, this equates to 395,400 cars off the roads every year in terms of kgCO2 equivalent.

The Blue Route Mall store revamp was completed in 2021 and was a pilot to test the new sustainable design. The features and sustainable practices used in this rebuild – and those awarded by GBCSA – have now been extended to 65 new and existing stores, which will soon also gain accreditation. 

"This is the new blueprint for all our Clothing stores moving forward," says Pillay. "We aim to reach 5 Star Green Star performance levels very soon as we have already made significant improvements and found smarter, more environmentally friendly ways of designing our new and existing stores," says Pillay. 

Pick n Pay Clothing's shift to green also enhances Pick n Pay's environmental, social, and governance targets, which include reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, which is aligned with the United Nations' target.

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