Sainsbury’s heats stores using fridges to slash energy consumption

Sainsbury's is pioneering the use of ground-source heating technology by collecting the warmth from the back of its refrigerators to heat up its stores - cutting energy use by more than 30%.

The new technology has already been installed at 30 Sainsbury’s stores across the country and the retailer is currently working with heating specialist Geoscart and British Gas to expand the roll-out to at least another 70 of its sites.  

The ground-source heat pumps provide 100% of the stores’ heating needs by collecting the waste heat produced by the back of refrigerators and storing it in a heat chamber located in the ground beneath the supermarket. The subsurface rock makes for good insulation, keeping the heat for use in colder months, when the heat is pumped back up into the building as it’s needed.

Leading the way

The initiative reduces overall energy consumption by 30% at the chosen locations, and Sainsbury’s hopes that its use of this technology will set an example for other retailers to follow.

Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, engineering & energy Paul Crewe said: “We’re delighted to be leading the way on this ground-breaking technology – helping to reduce energy use and carbon. I hope that with Geoscart’s help we’ll now see more retailers following suit.” 

While Sainsbury’s is seemingly leading the retailing pack, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) believes there is an overall lack of engagement with energy efficiency from the UK retailing market as a whole. Last week, the organisation launched the initiative 25-in-5: Unlocking Energy Efficiency through Smart Regulation, aimed at getting retailers to cut their overall energy consumption by 25% by 2050 and save £4.1bn in un-necessary energy costs by making sense of overly confusing efficiency policy and regulation.

Triple Zero

Sainsbury’s has already shown itself to be a ready adopter of green technologies that are able to cut energy consumption and improve its sustainability credentials.

It was awarded the Sustainable Building Award at the Sustainability Leaders Awards in 2014 for its ‘Triple Zero’ concept to create stores that have zero water impact, zero operational carbon and send zero waste to landfill. As part of this initative, a Sainsbury’s store in Cannock became the first supermarket in the UK to be powered entirely by electricity from food waste in July last year, allowing it to come off the national grid for day-to-day consumption.

The retailer is also playing a part in driving the uptake of greener fuels in the UK by installing the nation’s forecourt hydrogen dispenser at its store in Hendon.

Sainsbury’s has also been a vocal supporter of rooftop solar, having installed 135,500 PV panels on its stores across the country. The company describes solar as an ‘ideal’ opportunity for businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save money. It duelly plans to have 170,000 panels generating 40MW by spring 2015. 

Lucinda Dann

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