To Autogrill innovating stores means targeting process improvement and energy efficiency in the buildings in which it operates, as well as pursuing ongoing research on new technologies that include the use of energy from renewable sources, like geothermal and photovoltaic. Also the use of natural and eco-compatible materials (glass, stone, stainless steel), ensure easier disposal or recyclability, which also play an important role.
In addition, since the company provides services to millions of people, it is also important to design stores that always allow easy access to everyone and provide transparent communication to customers also in relation to environmental issues.
When it comes to building or restyling an existing store, there are several complex factors to consider: first, the level of integration in the ecosystem, defined through an analysis of the different stages in the life cycle of the building, the materials and the equipment. For this reason, it is necessary to plan continuous studies and analyses to define structures (light design, air conditioning, water systems, furniture, equipment, fittings) with the collaboration of authorities and organizations, suppliers, commercial partners and expert designers, also in relation to the different contexts – airports, highways, railway stations or shopping malls – in which the Group operates.
In line with the Roadmap objectives, the Group is defining its construction specifications aimed at reducing the consumption of energy and water and targeting the attainment of environmental certifications.
In Italy, the Villoresi Est store was opened at the beginning of 2013. It represents the Group's international best practice flagship for sustainable innovation, featuring virtuous solutions that can be individually reproduced in other locations of the Group’s network worldwide.
From the perspective of eco-sustainability, the Villoresi Est location was entirely designed and developed in compliance with the energy efficiency and carbon footprint standards of the LEED Protocol (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). In fact, in 2013 it received the LEED Gold certification in addition to EMAS and ISO 14001 certifications.
The building extends over a surface of approximately 2,500 sq m, with a skeleton entirely in PEFC certified lamellar wood derived from sustainably managed forests. As required by LEED standards, only eco-compatible and recyclable materials were used.
Its characteristic volcano shape (reaching a height of 27.5 m) facilitates the flow of excess heat towards the top and the ideal exploitation of external temperature conditions, thus reducing the energy used for heating or cooling air. Moreover, also thanks to the combined use of geothermal and photovoltaic energy, the Villoresi Est location saved 266 Megawatt of energy in 2013, compared to a traditional Autogrill store, with a reduction of CO2 emissions equal to 125 tons (data refer to reduced consumption and emissions for the heating and air cooling plants).
As to water, rainwater and groundwater are used for cooling air, irrigation of green areas, the management of toilets and the firefighting systems, reducing the uptake of water from the public waterworks for industrial purposes to zero.
Inside the parking area, thanks to the collaboration with the eV-Now! Foundation, LOGINET and Nissan, there is also the first recharging unit for electric-powered cars installed on Italian highways, which allows recharging in less than half an hour. Short time and universal recharging: 15 minutes are sufficient to recharge a partially down battery at 80% or approximately 30 minutes are needed if it is completely down.
Moreover, thanks to the double continuous current and alternate current technology it will be possible to recharge any electric-charged vehicle.
Lastly, for the purpose of ensuring continuity with the landscape and underscoring the environmental bond between Villoresi Est and the Groane Park, approximately 30% of the surface of the filling station (19,000 sq m) was developed as a green area, with local trees and bushes that provide continuity with the surrounding landscape. (See page 73 and 77 for Villoresi Est innovations in the social area).
- “Thermal battery” geothermal plant with 420 sensors installed in the subsoil 25 m deep, providing an output exceeding 380 thermal KW, covering 85% of requirements.
- 350 sq m of collecting coverage seasonally capturing either solar energy or cold.
- LED lighting for both interiors and exterior.
- Rainwater and groundwater collection system for air conditioning, irrigation, toilet management and firefighting reserve.
Last but not least, 150 stores throughout Italy already feature a centralized energy management system (connected to both equipment and systems), enabling corrective actions intended to improve and control energy consumption and efficiency.
Eco-sustainability also means protecting the habitat hosting the locations. For example, the Casilina Est petrol station, along the Rome-Naples A1 highway, where an ancient necropolis was unearthed, (yielding important archeological finds, including an extremely rare funeral bed from the Hellenistic period), which has been put on display in a museum showcase, with a terraced garden and a series of walls in crystal glass that give travelers a clear view of the archeological site.
At the Group’s headquarters in Milan, gases potentially hazardous to the ozone layer used in refrigeration plants were gradually eliminated. In collaboration with specialized engineers, ongoing plant maintenance/monitoring actions are being carried out. Gas recovery from the plants is performed in accordance with international standards and under safe conditions for human health and the environment. In all the stores located in Italy, all plants containing gases potentially hazardous to the ozone layer are registered and managed according to specific maintenance standards by companies responsible for maintenance in the stores. Any maintenance actions are registered in specific logbooks, with an indication of the plant specifications and activities performed. Based on the results of the relevant feasibility studies, the replacement of the gases contained in the refrigeration plants (refrigerators and air ventilation) is periodically assessed in correspondence with store restyling. In 2014 a campaign will be launched aimed at reducing the number of refrigerators containing R22 in the Italian stores.
In the United States, the Delaware Welcome Center celebrated three years in operation since its re-opening and is still the HMSHost flagship. It extends over a surface of 4,000 sq m and was designed in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles, recycling and re-using 75% of the material derived from the demolition of the pre-existing building. The store optimizes the use of natural sunlight, significantly cutting energy consumption. Moreover, in order to better insulate the building, the roof was constructed with highly reflective material and the walls with insulating materials that prevent heat loss in winter. With regard to air ventilation, a geothermal plant was installed with 60 geothermal wells feeding 37 pumps distributed throughout the building. Another initiative worth mentioning is the project dedicated to truck drivers, designed in collaboration with CabAire (a company that supplies electronic components for trucks). In the parking area of the infrastructure, there are now 50 stations supplying electricity for trucks to power air conditioning and heating without keeping the motor running. The Delaware Welcome Center also features stations for recharging electric vehicles.
Again in the United States, another example of sustainability best practices is provided by the stores managed inside the Los Angeles International Airport. Air quality is increasingly becoming a major concern in the largest US cities, and consequently, in many commercial kitchens monitoring equipment is required to control polluting emissions from the discharge systems in order to comply with the stringent measures applied by the environmental authorities. For this reason, HMSHost installed the Pollution Control Unit (PCU) and the Ultraviolet (UV) technology for kitchen hoods. These solutions contribute to improving air quality while optimally managing fat discharge. This results in reduced manual cleaning actions and reduced risk of fire.
For the recently opened stores in France, various energy efficient technologies (insulation, shading system, natural light and low consumption light bulbs) were implemented, and systems generating energy from renewable sources (photovoltaic panels for energy generation and solar panels for hot water) were installed. Also, when investments are made in restyling a location, Autogrill takes all the necessary actions to improve energy efficiency in the building. Examples include the roof and window insulation technology used for the store located in Reims, which was made possible also thanks to the financing envisaged by the Certificats d'Economies d'Energie government program, targeting an overall reduction of the energy consumed in the store.
In the Netherlands, during the refurbishment of the Tulip Inn Amsterdam Riverside Hotel (re-opened in 2013), strong emphasis was put on sustainability through the installation of LED lighting, water saving showers, water-less urinals and a high efficiency heating, ventilation and refrigeration system.