What makes a sustainability leader? Inside Ikea’s Greenwich store

With the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2020 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winner of our Built Environment Project of the Year, Ikea.

What makes a sustainability leader? Inside Ikea’s Greenwich store

Pictured: Compere Julia Bradbury (centre) presents the Ikea team with the award

Home improvement retailer Ikea’s Greenwich store achieved BREEAM’s “Outstanding” sustainable construction certification status just over two months after it opened, signifying the plethora of innovative technology solutions and community-focused initiatives aimed at championing sustainability included in the building. The store, which is based in Greenwich’s Peninsula district and has been dubbed Ikea’s “flagship sustainable” store in the UK, received the accolade in April 2019 after the retailer applied for the certification during the four-year planning, development and construction process.

Ikea has challenged itself to deliver continuous improvement in the built environment, aiming to ensure that every new store is more sustainable than the last one built. The retailer has established 12 principles that underpin the delivery of these stores, from the use of the most sustainable materials, the reduction of waste and lowered CO2 emissions, and creating healthy and inspiring places to work, to offering customers products and solutions to help them live more sustainable lives.

The Greenwich store is the pinnacle of this ambition. Ikea engaged with the local community and authorities, stakeholder groups, universities and others as part of a co-creation process to deliver its ‘greenest’ building yet. Greenwich Council challenged Ikea to construct a building that was 35% more energy-efficient than building standards required at the time. Ikea went above and beyond, delivering a store that achieves the highest BREEAM rating. The store has a 90.44% overall sustainability assessment – well above the 85% required to be dubbed “Outstanding”. BREEAM’s methodology also accounts for factors across the building’s lifecycle, including low carbon construction methods and sustainably sourced raw materials, operational energy and water use, and indoor air quality.

The 32,000sq.m store was designed with an array of built-in sustainability features, including ground-source heat pumps; rainwater harvesting systems and greywater treatment; 100% LED lighting; passive daylighting; energy-efficient heating and electric

vehicle (EV) charging points. It also benefits from an outdoor wildlife park, an active greenhouse and 2,600-panel rooftop solar array.

The store uses live data feeds displayed on TV monitors in the entrance and pavilion to reveal if the store is measuring up to the ambitious energy and water targets. Building Management Systems (BEMS) control the mechanical and electrical equipment, with the lighting system also being computer-controlled. As a bonus, all lighting sourced used and sold by Ikea is LED.

Its BREEAM rating, which came during the late stages of its construction, is the highest achieved by any Ikea store. As of the Awards ceremony in February,  only 320 buildings globally had achieved BREEAM “Outstanding”.

Overall, Ikea’s Greenwich building encapsulates the ambitions of the business’s 2030 People and Planet Positive sustainability goals, especially regarding the circular economy. Ikea wants its stores to act as take-back hubs, so its products can survive many lives in cycles of reuse, repair and recycling. As such, the store has been fitted with a 75sq.m Learning Lab – which invites experts and external influencers to host workshops and seminars to educate others on circular products and services.

What edie’s judges said: “Ikea’s Greenwich store has become the first retail unit in the UK to achieve a BREAAM score above 90%, because of the business’ dedication to innovative design, energy efficiency and sustainable materials. This entry showed impressive community engagement in the design process and also supports the circular economy.”

Are you our next winner?

Now entering their 14th year for 2021, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are a unique opportunity to shout about the achievements you and your company have made during this challenging year. 

Entries have now closed for the award scheme. In a digital event on Wednesday 3 February 2021, entrants will get the chance to celebrate virtually with leaders from across the sustainability, CSR and energy space. Some exciting new categories have been added for 2021 to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business. 


edie Staff


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