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Simons to open first ever net zero energy retail store in Canada

7 Mar 2018

Simons opens Canada's first net zero energy retail store on March 15, 2018 at the new Galeries de la Capitale location in the company's home town of Quebec City. The new 80,000 square foot space replaces the existing store in the same shopping center. The new one-level store, located on the second floor of the mall, features a large-scale eco-themed art installation from a local artist and carries a wider selection of merchandise, including a dedicated shoe department, all with the goal of providing customers with an enhanced Simons' experience.


As a net zero energy store, the new Simons store has been designed to generate as much energy on- site as it consumes annually, contributing less overall greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.
“Building a net zero energy store is the culmination of a six-year voyage of learning, understanding and discussing what our company's roles and responsibilities are regarding environmental impact,” says Peter Simons, Co-owner and President of Simons. “It takes extremely committed partners to achieve a goal like this and Oxford Properties stepped up, allowing us to make significant structural changes like drilling geothermal boreholes outside the shopping centre.”
To reduce the store's energy consumption, 27 geothermal boreholes were drilled into the ground under the parking lot. A pump pulls heat from the ground to heat the store or for cooling, extracts heat from the store and sends it back into the ground. An energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and state of the art LED lighting control program were also installed, reducing energy consumption by 60% compared to the original Galeries de la Capitale store.

In the store's parking lot 133 spots will have canopies covered in 1,020 bifacial modules which have glass on both surfaces to capture both direct and reflected sunlight. Combined with 2,308 bifacial modules on the roof, the entire solar electric system will generate over 1,300,00 kWh/year, the equivalent to 50 homes.
“Now we must wait and see if Canadians choose to support companies like ours that are taking leadership roles on these big issues,” adds Simons. “Do Canadians believe that companies have a responsibility to the communities where they do business? Will Canadians make a conscious effort to shop at retailers that are making an effort? I hope so.”

Local artist Giorgia Volpe, known for reusing and repurposing items to create art, was commissioned by Simons to create a custom art installation for the store at Galeries de la Capitale. La Cime, meaning “the top” is a 11 by 20-foot-long sculpture made from branches that are covered in papier mâché then dressed in recovered fabrics from Simons design team as well as recycled clothing from current Galeries de la Capitale customers. The wrapped branches are suspended at different heights and unfold in the skylight located in the center of the store. Volpe's eco-friendly approach to art was a natural fit for the environmentally friendly store.

Several other art and artisanal pieces are displayed throughout the store including original framed pieces from Quebec artists, Tania Girard Savoie and Elysanne Tremblay located in the customer service area.

Simons worked with long-time Quebec-based partner, Lemay Michaud, on the architecture and Toronto-based firm, Designstead, on the interior store design. A fabric-inspired weave in shades of green and yellow enhances the store's brick façade as a nod to Simons' corporate colours and the ecological elements of the store. Adding to the environmental theme, an island of rocks and grasses replaces one row of parking in front of the store, creating a clear view of the main entrance.

Inside, the store is divided into two areas making it easy for customers to navigate. One side showcases women's fashions with the other housing men's and Maison, Simons' home fashions. Connecting the two areas are the shoe and accessories departments.
As with all Simons stores, unique fixtures and creative design elements appear throughout, making the space as beautiful as the fashions.


Highlights at Galeries de la Capitale include:

• A “WeWatt” station in women's iFive that features three stationary bicycles where customers can charge their phones by cycling to create electricity.

• Clothing blueprints showcasing different cuff and collar styles appear in Le 31 on the walls.

• Felt panels in shades of grey and white are suspended from the ceiling in Twik.

• Bold wallpaper patterns adorn all fitting rooms that reflect the personality and style of each department.