Modern interior design efforts in retail are a challenge, and going beyond the norm is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Now, one world-renowned retailer has gone a step beyond modern interior design efforts in becoming the world’s first ever carbon-neutral retailer.
The UK’s Marks and Spencer chain has shown a commitment to decreasing energy consumption that is less about promotion or greenwashing and more about actual energy saving. Their efforts to go green across the board promise to enhance overall company productivity, with the retailers already benefiting from a 50 per cent green benefit increase, a net benefit that has jumped from £70 million in 2010/11 to £105 million last year.
The retailer’s net zero status has been achieved through a number of energy efficient retrofits in line with Marks and Spencer’s £200 million Plan A commitment. All company spaces from offices to warehouses – and particularly the shop fronts – have all undergone a number of changes, both physically and in terms of practice, in order to lower and offset all of their carbon impact under the Carbon Neautral certification program.
The company’s ‘2020 How We Do Business’ report outlines key goals and achievements that have been developed through the retrofitting of the company. The report outlines the 138 commitments the company has made to decrease energy usage – which they have, by 28 per cent through efficient refrigeration and renewable energy tariffs.
A number of the in-house changes include 100 per cent waste recycling, including sending 89 per cent of store waste to an anaerobic digestor to further produce energy. Electricity for the stores is bought from renewable sources, including a Thames-based water wheel.
While the built retail changes focus on energy efficiency, in a move that is almost unique for such a large-scale mainstream retailer, the company is slowly changing its products to fall in line with sustainable living principles. This includes the promotion of carbon neutral products, encouraging the reuse of water bottles and managing to get UK-based asparagus farmers to extend their season so as to eliminate the excess carbon cost of importing the natural goods.
Marks and Spencer are promising to go above and beyond modern green standards by taking the focus off their energy efficient shop fronts and putting it onto more holistic low-carbon running principles. With the massive economic gains this is creating in addition to the long-term environmental role it will play, it is quickly becoming a plan to imitate.