NEWS Retail

The Co-op Green Store Development Guide: Challenging the Status Quo

Now, more than ever, we understand the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and its effect on climate change. We also know emissions can be linked to all stages of a building’s lifecycle, from inception through to demolition and disposal. Fossil fuels still play a fundamental role in all stages of a building’s lifecycle from extracting raw materials, transforming them into building elements, transporting them to site, construction, use and maintenance and demolition.

For decades, policy and regulation has been designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during a building’s operational lifetime. As an example, in small convenience stores, this is primarily due to energy consumption for heating, ventilation, refrigeration and power. Little attention is paid to the emissions related to the intrinsic features of the building; such as the materials and processes required to construct a building.

However, it’s noticeable that we are seeing a positive move forward by some firms to address the issue. Leading retailer, the Co-op has committed to the aims and objectives of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals which includes their commitment to responsible consumption and production to mitigate climate change. The Co-op has engaged with a design team, including Hilson Moran as Whole Life Carbon experts and Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) advisors, to venture beyond the norm; of just designing for energy consumption, and consider the carbon emissions from inception to end-of-life of the building (embodied carbon).

The Co-op Green Store professional team


In addition to this the Co-op also recognise the importance of considering the carbon implications for future lifecycles of their stores. A fundamental element of this so-called circular economy is the building’s reusability. This is where components of the store provide valuable inputs to future lifecycles, where traditionally all building elements would be classed as waste material at the end of the buildings lifetime. Hilson Moran has guided the team to develop circular economy principles through the development of a building design and demountability strategy. Supply chain engagement and building longevity into products is critical to ensure that wastage is minimised.

To assess the benefits of adopting such carbon reduction strategies, it is just as critical to fully understand the status quo. For this reason, Hilson Moran undertook a thorough life cycle assessment of an existing Co-op store in Shavington, Crewe. This included assessing the carbon signature of the construction process stages of all substantial elements; including the substructure, superstructure, walls, roof, as well as accounting for the operational carbon use.

Main findings show that for a typical building over a 25-year lifecycle:

  • Embodied carbon accounts for 23% of the whole life carbon of the store. Of which the superstructure and substructure accounts for 43% and 46% of overall embodied carbon of the scheme respectively. This is due to high impact construction materials such as reinforced concrete foundations, steel frame, concrete blocks and walls.
  • Operational carbon accounts for 77% of the whole life carbon for the store.


These findings allowed the team to focus their efforts on carbon reduction strategies which have the biggest impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Hilson Moran provided C2C guidance and recommendations to improve environmental credentials for material options which were incorporated in the design development.  With this cradle-to-cradle approach, the final proposed green store global warming potential has saved up to 56% over its whole life. So that would mean 500 tons of carbon less spilling into the atmosphere over the normal lifecycle of the store.

Potential reduction in Whole Life Carbon following recommendations


As a result of this initiative, a ‘Green Store’ Development Guide now provides Co-op design teams strategies to minimise the carbon signature for future convenience store projects nationwide whilst maintaining the Co-op store brand and identity.

Hilson Moran @HilsonMoran

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