Retail sector ‘missing opportunity to increase profits through greener shops’

Posted on

February 3, 2016

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The retail sector is missing out on the potential for increased profits by not developing greener and healthier shops, according to a new report.

Better Places for People

The report, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings on People and Profit, advises that most retailers are currently not grasping the opportunity get a better understanding of how the physical retail environment can affect staff and customers.

That knowledge, according to the report led by the UK Green Building Council, can have a positive impact on business performance.

The report advises that retail accounts for almost half (43 per cent) of the total value of commercial property in the UK, and retail outlets are the biggest emitters of CO2 within the commercial property sector.

Quality of light

We know from our projects in the commercial sector that as well as the benefits of improved environments for work and leisure, there are clear financial gains from greener buildings.

For example, LED lighting can make a massive difference to the overall “feel” of a commercial space and in retail the need for quality of light is crucial, which is why we partner with Soraa, whose LED luminaires are a perfect solution for retail.

They provide not only the highest quality light but also ensure big savings on energy use.

Similarly, by providing better water management, through solutions like eco taps and tap aerators, consumption levels will drop dramatically. Ensuring that customers and staff are aware of these benefits helps to reinforce very positive attitudes.

The report also highlights the benefits of LED lighting as well as better water management through a case study explaining how Marks & Spencer designed “Sustainable Learning Store” in Sheffield in 2011.

It maximised daylight and installed LED bulbs to cut the use of lighting energy by 20 per cent, while also harvesting rainwater to cut water use by 30 per cent and a waste heat recovery system to ensure below-average energy consumption for the building.

The M&S Sustainable Learning Store, launched in 2011 has some of the highest customer satisfaction levels in the group.

Five strategies

The process used by M&S has helped inform the report’s Retail Metrics Framework, five simple strategies for engaging with metrics that can uncover significant, untapped business intelligence. The Framework “attempts to make the health, wellbeing and productivity aspects of sustainable buildings accessible, personal and actionable for the retail industry”.

  1. Assess what employees and customers have already said about your store environments (through staff surveys, social media, etc.)
  2. Identify stores that have undergone refurbishments and compare financial results in these stores pre- and post-refurbishment
  3. Identify green stores within a portfolio and work backwards from the economic data to review relationships with environmental features/performance
  4. Sort the portfolio into “best-performing” and “worst-performing” stores and look for correlations with store environments and worker/customer experiences
  5. Trial the metrics in one or more stores, using a baseline starting today

The retail report forms part of the World Green Building Council’s global campaign Better Places for People.

John Alker, Policy & Campaign Director, UK Green Building Council, said: “This should be a wake-up call for retailers and those with a stake in retail property. They are sitting on a potential gold-mine of data, which can help cement the business case for investing in healthy, greener stores – both new build, and refurbishment. Leaders in the sector realise this, we now need to see action across the board.”


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