A Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) store at a Cheshire designer outlet has been highlighted by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board as a “star project” in a comprehensive and independent post-occupancy evaluation (POE)*.
The retailer’s Cheshire Oaks store, which opened in August last year, is the second biggest M&S store in the world, and the biggest and greenest it has built from scratch, with over 148,000 sq. ft of selling space over two floors.
Designed to be the most carbon efficient premier store, it takes a holistic approach into key sustainability factors such as water, carbon, biodiversity, the community, materials and zero waste to landfill utilising green measures such as rainwater harvesting to provide water for the toilets and irrigate the store’s living wall; a very high standard of insulation including the use of innovative bio-composite Hempcrete panels; the building’s air tightness was found to be 70% better than required building regulations, losing less than 1°C of heat loss overnight in the winter (compared to around 9°C in other store environments); whilst the store’s heating is provided via heat reclamation and a biomass boiler, which uses agricultural, forest, urban and industrial residues and waste to produce heat with less effect on the environment than fossil fuels.
Funded by the Technology Strategy Board’s Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) grant, the report evaluated the performance of the store in its first year. Its findings include the following key highlights:
- 42% reduction in energy use compared to an equivalent store – against a target of 30%;
- 40% fewer carbon emissions than an equivalent store – against a target of 35%;
- Excellent building insulation, with less than 1°C of heat lost overnight in winter – compared to 9°C in other store environments;
- The rainwater harvesting system supplies a third of the store’s water – against a target of 25%;
- A net increase in biodiversity on site, with 88 plant species such as white willow and wild cherry;
- Feedback from Cheshire Oaks customers and employees using the ‘Building Users Survey’ (BUS) methodology placed the store within the top 1% of all buildings for “design” and “image to visitors”, top 5% for user satisfaction and top 7% for improved employee productivity against the BUS 2011 benchmark of 66 other buildings.
Clem Constantine, M&S director of UK & international property & store development, spoke of the firm’s commitment and strategy, “Plan A” to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer:
“Plan A is central to M&S’s property development programme, and the results of Cheshire Oak’s POE have highlighted the importance of learning from stores that are not only sustainable and part of the communities in which they operate but also create a connection with our employees and customers too.”
Ian Meikle, head of the Low Impact Buildings Programme at the Technology Strategy Board, said:
“M&S Cheshire Oaks is one of our star projects, with core business benefits aplenty. The performance results are outstanding, as are staff and customers measures of satisfaction. M&S is taking a leadership position in demonstrating that good, energy efficient design is good for business.”
Energy and Climate Change Minister Gregory Barker, said:
“Marks & Spencer’s Cheshire Oaks store is a fantastic example of what can be done to become more energy efficient. It’s great to hear that the innovative design features put in place since the store’s launch in August last year have cut carbon and saved money on energy bills.”
Cheshire Oaks is M&S’s fourth sustainable learning store. These stores aim to build a strong bank of knowledge and experience in sustainable learning practices. They form a key part of the retailer’s Plan A commitment to support continuous improvement in its property development programme.