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The best sustainability teams in retail comprise a multi-disciplinary mix of skills and experience including renewables
A new12,400sq ft Marks & Spencer store in Sheffield has been labelled the most sustainable outlet in the retailer's history. Gaining 37.5 out of 40 on the Considerate Construction Scheme, the retail outlet in Sheffield leads the way in terms of environmental retail builds, while also highlighting the increasing awareness retail companies should have within sustainable design.

'Sustainability is increasingly important in the construction and property sector and major companies like M&S have a crucial role in driving that process, particularly given the relationship not just with suppliers, but also with consumers,'according to Paul King, CEO of the UK Green Building Council.

By responding to the market demands for sustainable buildings, and employing skilled, qualified planning and architectural professionals with the ability to use programmes such as 3D CAD, BREEAM, REV IT and BIM programming and photo montage, the environmental impact of retail buildings are increasingly being considered at the planning and build stage.

Having the right employees with experience within the sustainable built environment industry is key to the future of building within the retail industry, according to Victoria Kenrick of sustainability recruitment consultancy Allen & York International.

She adds: 'We are increasingly recruiting for leading retailers, to equip them with the staff to enable them not only be compliant with environmental regulations, but also to accept responsibility for wider environmental issues, including supply chain and resource efficiency.'

Ms Kenrick says that Allen & York is witnessing a growing trend in the recruitment of complete sustainability departments, roles that form an integral part of the sustainable build team for a retail organisation. These positions include head of sustainability, planning consultant and architect.

She adds: 'Skill sets cut across architecture, urban design, building surveying, facilities management, engineering and even ecology. Contaminated land, environmental management and water management should also be considered when putting together a team for a sustainable retail build.'

Planning and built environment professionals with an understanding and experience within 3D modelling and photo montage are in increasing demand within sustainable design, adds Ms Kenrick, 'as they provide an enhanced visualisation of future projects'.

She explains: 'In addition, such programmes enable a better understanding of infrastructure usage, which can also provide tremendous benefits, including the ability to design a roadway or a car park for a retail outlet that can minimise vehicle energy consumption...

'3D modelling is particularly requested as a skill used in sustainable retail build as it will assist in noise propagation simulations and flood simulations, which are useful in order to assess the environmental impact of the building, an aspect which is becoming increasingly important in sustainable retail design.'

Another area, in which the planning and built environment team at Allen & York is witnessing growth, is in the rise of renewable energy roles within planning and architecture.

Ms Kenrick again: 'With the exponential increase of both wind energy and solar energy within Europe, retail builds are incorporating wind and solar farms within their portfolio, for example IKEA has recently acquired six German wind farms, giving it access to 45MW of capacity, enough to power around 17 IKEA stores; and in total the company now operates 52 wind turbines.'

Not only are retailers purchasing wind farms, but there is a growing trend towards building them to their own specifications. For example IKEA is building a wind farm in Sweden to meet the electricity needs of its 17 stores within Sweden.

In the UK, Tesco is involved in wind farm build with the aim of halving its carbon footprint by 2020.
1 February 2012

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