Protecting the climate – carbon-neutral as of 2016

Protecting our climate is an important challenge for the ALDI SOUTH Group. As part of its sustainability initiative “Project 2020”, Hofer in Austria has been operating entirely carbon-neutral since the beginning of 2016. Markus Freytag (right), Managing Director of the Loosdorf branch, and Stephan Geroldinger (left), Director responsible for energy management, talk about some of the factors contributing to the project’s success.

Why has the topic of climate protection played a decisive part in the “Project 2020” sustainability initiative for so many years?

Freytag: We have been using “Project 2020” to concentrate on sustainability topics where we can make a real difference, such as climate protection. Hofer is both leading the way by its own actions and encouraging customers and employees to get involved. We give, for example, tips for using energy-saving products and for making climate-friendly decisions at home.

What has Hofer done so far to reduce its own carbon footprint?

Geroldinger: Our focus is to implement energy efficiency measures that are also climate friendly. For instance, we are increasingly turning to natural and climate-friendly cooling agents for our cooler and freezer units. A growing number of stores have been fitted with LED lighting and innovative combined heating and cooling systems, which use the waste heat produced by refrigeration units and baking ovens to heat the building. Since 2013, we have been using exclusively green electricity in all Hofer buildings, and every new store also meets the requirements of the EU Green Building Standard. Our first completely CO2 emission-free store was opened in November 2015 – it combines all of our climate-friendly store technology innovations.

Freytag: We have been able to reduce our carbon footprint by two-thirds over the last two years simply through these measures. And since 2016, we have also been supporting climate protection projects in order to compensate for the few greenhouse gas emissions that we are still responsible for. That means Hofer is now completely carbon neutral.

How were the compensation projects chosen?

Freytag: We were advised by researchers from the Austrian University of Natural Resources and Life Science. We were especially interested in projects that were relevant to our supply chain, as well as projects with a regional focus here in Austria. We now support a variety of climate protection projects, including a project that aids humus farming in Austria and a project at former banana plantations in Costa Rica.