Learning from London 2012

As the swell of intrigue about UK plc’s major showcase construction project grew, the UKGBC organised a London 2012 Sustainability Lessons Learned series that promised to lift the lid on how London 2012 became ‘the greenest Olympic games ever’.

Meanwhile, at M&S HQ the property group carried on with the day job, executing plans for international expansion and UK store refresh programmes. Of course Plan A, M&S’s award-winning sustainability programme is engrained throughout the property group’s work: suppliers are monitored on waste, materials and community engagement, BREEAM EXCELLENT and a dedicated carbon manager is a standard requirement for new builds; and energy and water are meticulously monitored across the estate. All this is now business as usual with activities and processes already embedded into existing culture and governance structures. But it is also the responsibility of the Property Plan A team to push the boundaries even further and awaken new Plan A thinking. The Sustainability Lessons Learned series seemed a good way of up-skilling, refreshing and realigning the thoughts of our property group colleagues.
M&S sent relevant experts to the sustainability themed specific masterclass sessions and we created feedback templates guaranteed to provide valuable and consistent feedback from the experts.
The challenge now is to disseminate relevant information to our colleagues at M&S HQ. On September 19th a property and Plan A-wide workshop will be held to impart London 2012 best practice and reaffirm the good stuff we already do.  This will be taking place during World Green Building week and will be kicked off with a key note speech from Dan Epstein, former Head of Sustainability for London 2012. Not only do we want to spread this information more widely, but we also want to kick start conversations with the people who can make things happen.
Meanwhile we have been actively working on our Plan A ambition to develop two learning stores every year and have just launched our biggest and greenest yet; Cheshire Oaks, near Chester.  It has all of the green trimmings one would expect of an ecostore  - a biomass boiler, heat reclamation from the refrigeration units, displacement ventilation and oodles of natural light. However, in our effort to create the ‘greenest retail store ever’ we’ve gone the extra mile and incorporated a first class array of materials bursting with Plan A credentials; including Hemclad® walls, FSC glulam timber roof and green walls. The biodiversity story makes pleasing reading for many and the positive community impact and lifelong friends and partners we have won as a result has taken us to new heights in our approach to stakeholder engagement.  This is a store that, to quote Paul King CEO of UKGBC, “wouldn’t look out of place next to the Velodrome”.  It’s not just any new-build store. It’s an M&S new-build store.
The proof of the pudding, though, will be in the eating which is why we have now dedicated a team of experts to thoroughly assess how effectively the store performs with staff working in it and customers shopping in it. The things that work will naturally progress to become a part of our next generation of store development.
In order to create the greenest building it’s vital to learn from others. For M&S learning from London 2012 is inspiring us and making us hungry for greater sustainable achievements. That is one legacy the Olympics can take full responsibility for.

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Added: 04/09/2012

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