Toyota is building three 'sustainable retailers' in France, Austria and Slovenia, as a business case for eco-friendly design and construction. Under the programme, Toyota is targeting new builds as well its 3,000-strong network of retailers to achieve widespread cuts in energy use, water consumption and CO2 emissions.

"Despite tough market conditions, we have not lost sight of our environmental objectives," said Andrea Formica, senior vice-president of Toyota Motor Europe (TME). "Tougher environmental criteria built into our retailer standards will reduce the network's carbon footprint and translate into lower operating costs over the longer-term. Each Toyota retailer has a responsibility to act." 

The La Rochelle facility has been designed with industry-leading environmental performance in mind. A 'green roof' will provide a natural internal cooling system, capture and store rainwater, and serve as a wildlife habitat, while earth-warming pipes buried deep in the soil will ensure naturally pre-heated ventilation in winter. These and other eco-friendly measures are predicted to reduce water use and energy consumption at the La Rochelle site by 60%, compared to the average Toyota retailer, when it opens in 2010.

Comparable savings are expected at the outlet in Salzburg, Austria, scheduled to open in late 2010. The new retailer has set an ambitious operational target of zero emissions, thanks to the use of photovoltaic solar technology, district heating and innovative lighting.

The third pilot in Maribor, Slovenia, will employ high-efficiency heat pumps for heating and cooling, and increase insulation levels to reduce energy consumption by some 65%.

Like all new builds under the programme, La Rochelle, Salzburg and Maribor will be subject to a Toyota retailer environmental assessment, which is based on an international standard for sustainable construction and design. Retailers will be assessed for energy, waste, water, materials, pollution, land use & ecology, health and well-being, plus management and transport.

Although existing retailers are not subject to this assessment, they are expected to improve their environmental performance by participating in an energy kaizen audit to understand how instant and meaningful improvements can be made. All are expected to participate in the audit by 2013, and to have secured ISO 14001 certification by 2015.

Efforts to meet these targets are well under way. Toyota Deutschland has already joined forces with DEKRA to ensure that independent energy checks are carried out at all German-based retailers by 2012. Up to 18 German outlets have already begun preparations, with the first audits starting this month. Toyota Great Britain is also carrying out trial audits at 16 retailers, with the view to expand.