Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland opened the retailer’s ‘greenest ever store’ at Ecclesall Road in Sheffield to great fanfare last week. It is the first of a number of what M&S calls its ‘Sustainable Learning’ stores, which will form part of the retailer’s ambitious drive to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.
The Sheffield eco store is the fourth – there are others in Bournemouth, Galashiels and Pollok, opened in 2007. Key lessons learned during those projects are being used when building or refurbishing M&S stores and further Learning stores are slated for Stratford City later this year and Cheshire Oaks in 2012.
Built from scratch
At Sheffield, the 1,200 square metre Simply Food store has been built from scratch on a former brownfield site. Aside from the host of impressive green strategies, the most notable thing about this M&S store is that it is a genuinely pleasant place to shop. The retailer hasn’t compromised on interior aesthetics or the consumer experience while meeting its environmental targets.
The host of sustainable design and construction features include an all-LED lighting installation, an LED screen that displays real time public transport information, electric car charging points and a green living wall to attract wildlife. All the bricks used in the build have been reclaimed from a local mill, which is not only eco-friendly but helps the store complement the architecture in the surrounding streets.
The store has all the green credentials one would expect and is on course to achieve a Breeam rating of Excellent, making it one of the most sustainable retail outlets in the UK, and its carbon emissions will be 23 per cent lower and energy use 30 per cent lower than a conventional store of similar size.
Sustainable highlights include:
- timber that is FSC certified, a UK first;
- all the bricks have been reclaimed;
- water costs will be cut by up to 40 per cent, compared with a conventional similarly sized store, by using harvested rainwater;
- heat expelled from the store’s refrigeration units will be captured to help heat the store;
- a living green roof of sedum plants and a green living wall have created wildlife habitats, and insulate the store; and
- bird boxes have been placed around the perimeter wall of the site.
In total, 62 different species of plants have been planted on or around the store.
Polished concrete floors have removed the need for floor covering and all the building waste has been recycled. Materials used are recyclable when the store is refurbished or at the end of their lives. All employees at the store have been trained to understand its environmental features and will be encouraged to share this information with customers.
LEDs or not?
The scope for the original lighting scheme did not mandate LEDs, says Steve Dean, design director at LAPD Consultants – it merely stipulated a reduction to 7W per square metre (see Energy Dashboard). But an all-LED installation was the result.
M&S also favoured using one supplier and LAPD turned to the Maxos twin-panel LED fixture from Philips with a ‘batwing’ distribution – achieved by mounting the panels at an angle of 30 degrees. What M&S did not want to compromise on was lighting impact – this was not to be an eco-store in which the normal rules of the shopping environment played second fiddle to the wish to be green.
Spots and sparkle
‘Previously merchandise was highlighted by spots and M&S wanted that sparkle,’ says Dean. ‘It was a tough challenge for Philips and the company worked really hard, but by dropping the fitting height and implementing a high level of control we got to what M&S needed.’
LEDs are everywhere, from the store to back-of- house and chiller rooms to the car park. Control and automation are also a key area of the store’s approach, with light pipes and a fully automated system based on a simple six-button panel.
The Philips Dynalite controls package lets the store make the most of daylight harvesting and dimming, and makes information available on energy consumption. Based on Philips’ calculations, M&S believes the scheme is about 25-30 per cent more efficient than the lighting systems used in a typical Simply Food store.
Richard Gillies, director of Plan A at Marks & Spencer, reflects: “We are delighted to be opening this new Sustainable Learning store in Sheffield, the first of many we plan to build over the next few years. We’ve forged fantastic relationships with local suppliers and community groups, and gone to great lengths to source sustainable materials and expertise in the building of this store.’
And Dean says the final installation has outperformed expectations, providing not just a low-load project but a scheme in which the interiors and the lighting have not been compromised in the pursuit of a greener future – a genuinely sustainable approach.