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Marks & Spencer Build Biggest Ever Sustainable Store!

Marks & Spencer Are Putting Susta­ina­bility Programme To The Test.

There are already some satisfied Marks & Spencer customers in Chester, despite the fact that the retailer’s latest superstore outside the town isn’t opening until the summer. The lions at Chester Zoo are contentedly sharpening their claws on a tree removed from the Cheshire Oaks construction site and rabbits at a local breeder have made some of the project’s spare plastic pipe their home. That’s because this project has a zero waste to landfill target and Ed Dixon, envi­ron­mental champion at contractor Simons, has had to find some unusual ways of finding a home for the stuff that couldn’t be recycled.

At 195,000ft2, M&S Cheshire Oaks is a monster - the biggest store to be built under the retailer’s Plan A programme. This comprises 180 susta­ina­bility targets with 21 specifically for property - all 21, including the zero waste to landfill target, are being addressed at Cheshire Oaks. It is the third “susta­ina­bility learning store” to be built by M&S and trials a range of sustainable materials and technologies which, if prove successful, may eventually form the basis of its core building specifi­cation.

The retailer has grand ambitions. “We would like to build a store out of all natural and sustainable materials,” says Munish Datta, head of property Plan A at M&S. “The market isn’t ready for that kind of thing but it will only become ready if we make demands of it.”

The Cheshire Oaks store makes a compelling case for just that. Its most striking sustainable feature is the wooden roof made up of 1,400m2 of curved glulam beams. By using wood, there is 20% less dead weight, which means less structure and foundations are needed.

The Cheshire Oaks store is also the biggest project to date to use a mix of hemp and lime, known as hemcrete for the cladding. Hemcrete is very green as it locks up carbon dioxide, is very breathable and is a good insulator. Using it in precast panel form is also a first - previously it has been cast in situ, and before that used in block form.

All these measures didn’t come cheap. Indeed, M&S won’t say how much the store cost. “It has incurred some additional costs [because of the envi­ron­mental aspects]but you have to put that in the round and look at the life cycle of the building,”. “In the end, this building will be cheaper than a traditional build because of the lower energy costs.”



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