By Jonathan Goldsmith
As the cost of living continues to rise and the construction industry remains a culprit for wasteful practices, going back to basics rather than turning to technology and innovation can sometimes bring surprising results.
Morrisons has demonstrated that some problems can be solved by using what is right in front of us, when it demolished a store in Little Clacton, Essex, last year, due to structural problems.
The supermarket chain redesigned the store on the same site but wanted to make sure it would be low impact and more energy-efficient than its predecessor, by ensuring 99 per cent of the demolition materials from the old store were used in construction operations for the new Morrisons.
According to a study by Wrap, the construction sector uses 400 million tonnes of material every year, resulting in 100 million tonnes of waste being produced. This staggering level of construction waste contributes more than a third of the UK’s total yearly waste amount.
Lowering the environmental impact did not end there, however, as sustainable features were added, including a rooftop solar array which is expected to meet enough electricity to meet 20 per cent of the store’s needs, and a renewable electricity contract meeting the remaining needs.
The chain has also installed air-source heat pumps to reduce emissions from heating, which are connected to pipes served by waste heat generated by fridges, and the store boasts its own back-of-house recycling system and rainwater harvesting system, the latter of which will be used to flush toilets.
It is expected that the new store will generate 43 per cent less carbon dioxide per year, compared to the previous Morrisons and promises ‘almost zero waste’ across the building life cycle.
The company also aims to recycle all waste by 2025 and is targeting net zero operational carbon emissions by 2035.
In addition, there will be more than 200 locally sourced products on offer within the store, with a variety of more than 350 loose, packaging-free products - Morrisons announced earlier this year that it would only source produce from net zero-certified farms when looking at British suppliers.
The store’s outside area has not been neglected either, in terms of introducing more sustainability features, as there are now 20 electric vehicle (EV) charging points that have been added to the car park.
Store manager Paul Tracey said the site “brings together all of the environmental and social initiatives we have created to date under one roof”.
Dani Brown, Principal Consultant, Sustainable Business at Acre, said: “When thinking about sustainability and supermarkets we often just look inside them for their sustainability commitments around environmental impact and sustainable supply chains.
Morrisons however, has demonstrated what can be done to improve its infrastructure and thinks creatively about reducing its impact and generating sustainable opportunities for its customers such as EV charging points. Supermarkets need to look at their wider footprint and overall impact, not just at the products they sell.”
Jonathan Goldsmith, Head of Infrastructure & Transportation at Acre, said: “The construction industry has traditionally struggled with circular economy principles, with only around 10 per cent of building materials being re-used or recycled.
The fact that Morrisons was able to re-use 99 per cent of demolition materials from its Little Clacton store should highlight to the built environment sector that hugely improved circularity is not only attainable, but commercially viable.”
Johnny works in Acre’s Sustainable Business team, with responsibility for delivering all Executive-level and strategic searches for clients operating in the Built Environment, Infrastructure & Transportation sectors. He also leads a small team of Consultants to support organisations on operational sustainability hires across the UK & Europe. Johnny holds a BSc in Environmental Science and, following a brief spell working for a global environmental consultancy, joined Acre in 2015. Since then, he has partnered with major corporates, multi-stakeholder initiatives and SMEs to help shape their sustainability functions. He has an honest and transparent approach to the industry and enjoys working in partnership with ambitious clients to continually drive change.
Dani specialises in recruiting senior executive, board and advisory roles across the Corporate Affairs, Communications, Public Affairs, Government Relations and Sustainability functions. She works with a range of clients including corporates, agencies and membership and trade associations.
Her expertise focuses on those shaping change through developing and implementing compelling strategic narratives, frameworks, policies and campaigns in an ever changing and uncertain landscape with multiple stakeholders. She has recruited Directors, Chairs and CEO’s all managing the reputation, purpose and trust of their organisations.
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