Waitrose has become the latest UK grocer to test a more efficient lighting scheme as part of its newest eco-store. Mark Faithfull reports

In late November, Waitrose opened its greenest shop yet, close to its head office in Bracknell, Berkshire. The 25,000-square-foot store incorporates pioneering new features to benefit the environment and reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by about 80 per cent.

It is the first Waitrose to showcase a host of biodiversity features and will include the sort of eco-elements that come as standard for this type of initiative – a ‘green’ roof covered with wild grass to improve drainage and provide an area for wildlife, a ‘living’ wall to promote wildlife movement around the site, hedges instead of conventional fencing and nest boxes for bats and swifts, plus a ‘bug hotel’ in the car park, built with the help of local primary school pupils to provide a safe haven for hibernating insects.


Bracknell follows on from the Waitrose Stratford City store, which opened in September and has been submitted as the first BRE Environmental Assessment Method (Breeam) retail ‘outstanding’ property in the world, and is currently pending certi cation. This is in part helped by the inclusion of an independent energy centre in the West eld Stratford City shopping development, which powers the branch.

Waitrose Bracknell has become one of two Waitrose shops that has its own on-site energy centre, which will reduce CO2 emissions by almost 800 tonnes a year. Burning locally sourced wood chip, coppiced from Forestry Commission standard sustainable woodlands, the centre will provide all of its heating, cooling and electricity needs of the branch, as well as about 150,000kWh of surplus power that will be fed back into the grid.

Operating o -grid

The retailer wants more of its stores to operate off grid and plans to roll out on-site energy centres to future builds. This will help it achieve its overall aim of a 15 per cent absolute reduction in operational CO2 emissions by 2020/21. Also, from next year, as part of its Responsible Development programme, all new Waitrose shops and major refurbishments will incorporate a biodiversity action plan.

Nigel Keen, director of development at Waitrose, reflects: ‘Throughout the design and build of our Bracknell shop, our three objectives have been community, emissions reduction and biodiversity. Many of the features incorporated into the shop and car park make good business sense because they conserve the environment and help us save money.’

Keen stresses that the retailer is anxious to roll out these new features more widely, particularly the on-site energy centres, and adds: ‘We are confident that our Bracknell shop will achieve the Breeam ‘outstanding’ rating – something that we’ll be very proud of. It will be one of the first retail buildings in the world to achieve this accolade.’

I sense a presence

In terms of lighting’s contribution to this objective, Bracknell is the first Waitrose store to use automatic presence control lighting in the warehouse, staff areas and on the shop  oor after trading hours to reduce the shop’s energy use. Sun tubes let daylight in to the shop floor and customer toilets. Shaped like a light fitting, they have been designed to work in conjunction with the artificial lighting scheme along with daylight sensors.

Waitrose is anxious to roll out energy-effieicnt features further

‘We introduced 12 sun tubes over the checkouts and a further four to the customer toilets in Bracknell. Since the introduction of the sun tubes in our East Cowes branch, we have continued to explore and improve the effective use of daylight to our checkout and customer toilet areas,’ says Keen of the initiative.

‘By integrating this natural light in an effective way with our artificial lighting, we both enhance our customer experience and reduce our carbon footprint by directly reducing our energy consumption through dimming of the lighting when natural light levels allow.’

More than just LEDs

LED fittings have also been used in fridges, in cold rooms and on illuminated signs to reduce energy consumption as part of the company’s development of its low-carbon refrigeration system.

‘We introduced LED lamps to help further reduce the energy and life cycle cost of these units,’ explains Keen. ‘LEDs are now standard design solutions to all refrigerated units that we install as part of this system. We have also undertaken a retrospective installation of LED lamps to around 100 of our existing branch warehouse refrigeration and freezers. As LEDs are a proven technology at lower temperatures, this has allowed us introduce presence detectors to switch the lights off when not occupied.’

Bracknell continues with this design standard and has LEDs fitted in both these areas, but unlike the Marks & Spencer eco-pilot store in Sheffield, at Waitrose it’s not all about LEDs. Currently, general lighting in the branch is based on T5 fittings, coupled with accent lighting using metal halide lamps. ‘We will always react to changes in technology and the improved ef ciencies this brings and believe that Waitrose Bracknell is a leading example of effective use of lighting,’ says Keen.

No light is wasted

‘We continue to drive down our lighting levels and associated energy consumption, and ensure that the lighting is only focused in areas that we are identifying. We maintain an ‘in aisle’ approach so that no lighting is wasted above refrigerated cases or gondolas that we believe to be a wasteful use of energy.’

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