M&S are set to transfer control of all store heating and ventilation to a central control point as part of its bid to become the most sustainable major retailer by 2015.
M&S head of sustainability Crispin Burridge said that both M&S staff and professional H&V engineers were continuously adjusting the heating and ventilation systems in stores, wasting “considerable” amounts of energy.
He said he wanted to “take away the human ability to mess with the system” in as many stores as possible, as quickly as possible.
The plans are part of a wider initiative to remotely monitor all stores’ energy levels, including those of space cooling, lighting and refrigeration.
Contractors wanting to work for M&S will also have to complete a ConstructionSkills training course as the retailer cracks down on sustainability showmanship.
Those currently working on projects with the retailer have been given a year’s notice to complete the two-day Site Sustainability Simplified course - half are already qualified.
Mr Burridge said that many contractors “talk the talk” but do not have the skills to hit sustainability targets.
He also stressed that the retail industry placed too much focus on the sustainability of new developments. He said clients must shift their sights towards retrofitting existing stores in order to hit ambitious targets.
“This year we only added 4 per cent of trading space. If we only focused on being innovative with new buildings we’d never hit
government targets, never mind our own.
“Everybody seems to just be sitting and waiting for this holy grail that will solve all of the problems, but this really isn’t necessary.
“Eighty to 90 per cent of the technology we need already exists, we just need to start working together to share it and apply it to the buildings we already have.”
M&S plans to build two eco-learning stores a year where it can experiment with new techniques before rolling them out on a larger scale.
In 2007 it launched three of these stores in Pollock, Galashiels and Bournemouth, the last of which was a refurbishment of a 70-year-old store. Nine months after completion, 60 per cent of the trial methods were being implemented in every M&S store.
“The eco-learning stores are a hugely important part of what we do,” said Mr Burridge. “Results are achieved by using a number of different techniques that culminate in large carbon reductions.
“One of the key areas we’re looking at is lighting. We’re swapping T8s with T5s, working on the colour rendition of LED lights and using passive infrared sensors wherever possible.”
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