M&S’ Cheshire Oaks store exceeds energy and carbon expectations

Marks & Spencer's (M&S) Cheshire Oaks store has achieved a 42% reduction in energy use compared to an equivalent store - against a target of 30% - in its first year in operation.

Opened in August 2012, the store has surpassed the environmental expectations of its designers, again beating the target of 35% fewer carbon emissions than an equivalent store by a further 5%.

Efficient operation of the store has resulted in 21% less electricity and 60% less heating fuel consumption than the designer’s predicted.

The reduction figures have been largely down to the stores biomass boiler, which provides 72% of the stores heating, and significant building insulation, which has reduced heat lost overnight in winter to just 1°C, compared to 9°C in other store environments.

The successes of the store’s design and construction strategy will enhance M&S’s ongoing sustainable property development, with the most successful sustainable elements at Cheshire Oaks now part of the standard specification for new M&S stores.

However, according to M&S’ head of property Plan A Munish Datta the challenge will be retrofitting the existing estate and bringing those stores up to a high environmental standard.

Speaking to edie at today’s launch of the stores first year environmental results, Datta said the biggest lesson learnt has been through the material strategy used to develop Cheshire Oaks but the challenge would be increasing the environmental credentials of an existing store without replacing materials.

Datta said: “Looking back over the project its about how much of it can we retrofit quickly. Our material strategy has been incredibly important in this project but this isn’t easy retrofitting – we can’t rip stores apart and replace brick with hemp [used for the Cheshire Oaks store], that’s not practical.

“The strategy I would use, if we have the opportunity to develop another similar store, is concentrate less on the technologies that are pushing the boundaries but are instead 100% ‘retrofitable'”, he added.

Following the success of the Cheshire Oaks store, M&S is planning to retrofit four of its most energy intensive Simply Food stores in Epping, Slough, Heswall and Oswestry, incorporating measures such as green facades, capturing heat from refrigeration and rainwater harvesting.

After working on these four stores Datta says the retrofit process of its estate will begin at “pace and scale”.

Datta also announced that M&S will be setting higher energy efficiency targets beyond 2015, increase its use of renewable energy, and through the use of sustainable materials, reduce its embodied carbon.

Additional benefits have been seen in water use, with rainwater harvesting supplying a third of the water for the building, while the ‘green wall’ is automatically watered with 1,300 litres of rainwater per day during the summer.

M&S director of Plan A, Mike Barry, commented on the results: “This is about sharing knowledge and this store has encompassed innovation and has broken the mould in design and construction”.

Leigh Stringer

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