South African retailer Ackermans has saved enough energy in its stores to power 1,200 homes since starting its Save Watts (SWATT) initiative three years ago.
The SWATT project is an extensive energy saving initiative conceptualised by the retailer, and developed and implemented by UGU Engineering Solutions. The main objective of the project was to reduce the energy footprint of the business and achieve the highest possible return on investment through reducing electricity costs.
The retailer cut down its electricity bill for lighting by 50% - an equivalent of approximately ZAR17m a year.
The combined saving of electricity in Ackermans’ South African, Namibian and Botswana stores has resulted in a saving of 14GWh/year – enough to power close to 1,200 households for a year.
Jonathan Pratt, GM for operations support at Ackermans, told ESI Africa: “As we progress with the project it is important for us to know what we are saving in terms of electricity and water. We are looking at all areas of the business to have a greener, more sustainable footprint.
"Through SWATT we have been able to achieve this and our carbon emissions savings are 14,000 tonnes.”
Control is a key strategy
SWATT is comprised of three main components – technology, control mechanisms, and behaviour relating to energy use – and each component has specific implementation plans to reach the results needed to sustain the project’s long-term objectives.
Ackermans went to great lengths to change to energy efficient lighting technology that included replacing approximately 60,000 old bulbs with 38,000 new energy efficient bulbs. The control mechanisms that includes meters in all Ackermans’ stores play an important role in being proactive and knowing the energy usage at all times.
By changing employee behaviour Ackermans had a 10% electricity bill reduction and includes the elements of awareness (including store accountability), SOS (switch off something), reducing wastage (switching on only 30% of lights and more when trading starts), switching (in terms of KVA saving), and an internal communication campaign, which includes measuring behaviour to keep it sustainable.
SWATT is a sustainable project
“The next phase will focus on the HVAC side of the business as this is the biggest user of electricity in our stores. We have already piloted stores with our partners to put a business case together by July this year and we are committed to further reducing our carbon footprint by the next financial year through SWATT 2”, explained Pratt, adding that, “already all our new stores are opened with the new technology, controls and staff behaviour making this a sustainable project.”
Earlier this month, Ackermans received the accolade of Energy & Water Efficiency project of the year at the African Utility Week industry awards.