Sainsbury’s to open first carbon, waste and water neutral store

Sainsbury's will be opening its most environmentally friendly store in Leicester which will emit zero carbon from all operational energy used, send zero waste to landfill and will have zero impact on the water usage of the local catchment area.

All of the store’s electricity and heating will be provided by an onsite generator, meaning all operational energy used will be zero carbon, while the combined heat and power system will use natural gas from the national gas grid.

However, the equivalent amount of zero carbon biogas, required for the store each year, will be imported into the network from one of Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group farmer’s anaerobic digestion facilities in West Sussex, therefore “creating a closed loop” it says.

Speaking to edie, Sainsbury’s head of engineering, sustainability, energy and environment Paul Crewe said that the new store in Leicester and its sustainable store in Weymouth, are designed with high level technology at the forefront of their plans.

“Along with the sustainability innovation world, we’re really open and want to have as many emerging technologies as possible come through our door, so that we can assess whether they are commercially viable,” said Crewe.

Although a range of technologies are used to create the ‘triple zero’ store, including photovoltaic solar, LED lighting and electric vehicle charging points, Crewe says it was his insistence on a covenanted supply of green gas that ensured the store would achieve a zero carbon status.

“This allowed me to work with our supply partners and find out what green gas was available from the community that Sainsbury’s has under its supply partner umbrella arrangement. Through this, we were able to identify a farm in West Sussex and we purchased the green gas quantities needed to operate both the new Leicester and Weymouth stores,” he added.

Crewe says this purchase was vital to ensure the stores had “auditable green gas credentials and a zero carbon status”.

Sainsbury’s used a timber structural frame for the store, creating a lower carbon footprint than a standard steel frame, and 100% of the waste produced during the construction of the store has been reused or recycled.

Improving its waste reduction credentials further, any surplus food is donated to local charities or made into animal feed, and when it is not suitable for consumption the food waste is used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion. The company adds that all general waste is recycled or turned into fuel.

Additionally, the water required for this ‘Water Neutral’ store will be met through water efficient measures and infrastructure, as well as an offsetting partnership in the local community. This means the total water used within the local catchment area will not increase as a result of this new store.

It says 70% of the water demand will come from rainwater harvesting and other water efficient initiatives.

The remaining 30%, which is potable water for food preparation, will be offset by sponsoring water saving initiatives at a partner site in the local community, which it says will also substantially reduce its annual water bill.

The new stores will exceed the sustainability credentials of Sainsbury’s store in Haslucks Green, Solihull, which, in April, it claimed to be Britain’s most environmentally friendly convenience stores.

Rivals M&S recently gave an update on its own high efficiency store in Cheshire Oaks, claiming it surpassed the environmental expectations of its designers, beating the target of 35% fewer carbon emissions than an equivalent store by a further 5%.

Leigh Stringer

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