Sainsbury’s innovative green supermarket: wind-powered checkouts, rubbish-fuelled lorries

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd September 2008

Sainsbury’s has opened its flagship “green” store, built with consideration for the use of energy, water, waste, timber and land.

The store is aiming to be one of the first supermarkets to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for its commitment to sustainable construction, and has been specifically designed to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

The pioneering store will save 40% of its overall CO2 emissions. This will be achieved by using cutting edge technology such as a ‘biomass boiler’, which will heat the building and water, and uses locally sourced wood which would otherwise be wasted. Using no gas whatsoever at the store, this system uses renewable energy and means energy currently taken from the national grid will now be slashed by 50%.

The new Sainsbury’s store has been designed to leak less draughts, and other measures, such as ‘quiet revolution wind turbines’ will now power the checkouts, and contribute to cutting electricity usage by a third.

Rainwater will be collected, and used to flush customer and colleague toilets, and to irrigate plants. Sainsbury’s believe the store will save over one million litres of mains water every year, and uses 60% less water overall.

Lower lighting levels, the use of daylight and dimming light make further carbon savings, and cool air will be collected from chillers to keep the store cool during warmer months. The lights at the back area of the store will also turn off if no-one’s there.

The store’s construction is also environmentally responsible, and where possible recycled or recyclable materials have been used or FSC-approved timber. As 200 trees have been used for the frame of the store, Sainsbury’s will also re-plant 400 trees in the local community.

“We’ve been keen to experiment with a number of energy saving measures here, from sun pipes which provide amazing natural light, to using a timber frame rather than steel, which consumes less energy in its production, but looks good too,”  Neil Sachdev, Commercial Director at Sainsbury’s, said. “We now want to apply all these benefits to the rest of our stores.”

Sainsbury’s will be the first supermarket to make its daily food deliveries to its new environmental store using a lorry which is powered by bio-methane produced from rotting rubbish. The gas is captured from landfill and purified, and the bio-methane produced is then used to power the truck. Using bio-methane can save up to 60% in CO2 emissions compared with diesel fuel, the supermarket operator claims. The lorry uses a Dual-Fuel system which enables heavy duty diesel engines to operate on a combination of bio-methane and diesel, with a shot of diesel acting as a liquid spark plug.

“The carbon reduction at this store is significant, but many of the steps are small, yet collectively they can have a huge impact,” Mr Sachdev added. “Some ideas are automated, such as automatic switching off lights at the end of the day, but most of what we’ve done has come from what our customers and colleagues tell us.”