UK grocers continue to push “greenest” store message

Posted by Isobel Drake on 19th January 2009

Tesco opened its first store of the future last week in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, a store they believe to be the UK’s most energy efficient. The store has been built using Tesco’s new low carbon blueprint which will provide a foundation for stores built in the UK going forward, and follows similar claims by other UK supermarkets last year that they had opened the region’s most energy efficient supermarket.

Asda and Sainsbury’s, the region’s second and third largest supermarket operators after Tesco, were among those to announce renewed commitments to reducing the carbon footprint of their supermarkets as companies realise that they can’t afford to be left behind in the quest to be more socially responsible. A lack of corporate responsibility can severely harm a brand in today’s society, according to a number of studies, and businesses are beginning to realise that such a commitment can also result in cost savings in the future as well as helping the environment and improving their brand’s image.

Tesco’s new 52,000 sq ft store is part of Tesco’s Climate Change Programme and plan for the future to build low carbon stores. Through a combination of energy efficiency measures, the store’s carbon footprint is 70% less than an equivalent store built in 2006. These measures will also deliver significant savings for the Company with a 48% reduction of the store’s fuel bill based on 2006 baselines, they reported.

The new store boasts an innovative mix of environmentally-friendly materials, technologies and design. Whilst similar in appearance to existing outlets, the store architecture, fixtures and signage are specifically designed to both reduce the store’s carbon footprint and heat wastage and to maximise the use of recyclable content.

The design and store interior consists of many energy efficient features. For example: the store has a new lighting system that automatically dims individual lights when natural light increases; it has a natural refrigeration system whereby all fridges are cooled with CO2, which is significantly less damaging to the climate than traditional fridge gases; and it has a fully recyclable plastic moulded checkout packing areas, which have much lower carbon and water content. Importantly, despite these innovative adaptations, the consumer experience remains of the highest quality and relatively similar to that of existing stores.

“The Cheetham Hill store is an exciting development in Tesco’s long term plans to reduce significantly the carbon footprint of its stores by 2020,” Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Executive Director, Corporate and Legal Affairs at Tesco, said. “The new blueprint, which will provide a foundation for future stores being built in the UK, demonstrates our commitment to tackling climate change. It will also considerably reduce store fuel costs going forward.”