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New Sustainability Professionals within the Retail Industry

Following the success of its Plan A, Marks & Spencer has opened one of the U.K.’s most sustainable retail outlets at Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. A new 12,400 square foot M&S store in Sheffield opened in April and has been labeled as 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 in order to compete and respond to stakeholder needs.

As Paul King, CEO of the U.K. Green Building Council, says, “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.” 

By responding to the market demands for sustainable buildings, and employing skilled, qualified planning and architectural professionals with the ability to use programs 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.

“In time, sustainable retail builds and builds such as the M&S outlet in Sheffield, will soon become the norm,” says Hannah Pennington, Principal Planning Recruitment Consultant

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

We are currently witnessing a growing trend in the recruitment of complete sustainability departments with roles that form an integral part of the sustainable build team for a retail organization. These positions include Head of Sustainability, Planning Consultant and Architect.

Skill sets 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 & Built Environment professionals with an understanding and experience within 3D Modelling and Photo Montage are in increasing demand within sustainable design, as they provide an enhanced visualisation of future projects. In addition, such programs 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 minimize vehicle energy consumption, and help in reducing not only the retailer’s but also a city’s carbon footprint. 3D modeling 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 we are seeing growth is in the rise of renewable energy roles within planning and architecture. With the exponential increase of both wind energy and solar energy across 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. Again, IKEA is building a wind farm in Sweden to meet the electricity needs of its 17 stores within Sweden. Whilst in the UK, Tesco is undergoing a 10 mile wind farm build with the aim of halving its carbon footprint by 2020. We are seeing positions such as Waste & Minerals Visualization Manger and Wind Farm EIA Visualizers, coming on to the marketing as part of sustainable build project management teams.

The move towards global retailers embracing renewable energy and constructing new buildings to high spec sustainable standards is very positive. This is a really exciting development for the sustainability industry.

Victoria Kenrick is a specialist at Allen & York, a leading international Sustainability Recruitment consultancy, offering jobs in Environment, CSR & Sustainability, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, plus Health and Safety Management. Allen & York has 18 years of experience recruiting for the built environment and sustainability sector. To see how we could fulfil your recruitment requirements and to see our latest job opportunities, please visit www.allen-york.com.

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3 thoughts on “New Sustainability Professionals within the Retail Industry

  1. Marvelous finding, Victoria! I too have been privileged to observe the emergence of a new profession over a 15-year period of training and regulation on heavy construction sites: erosion and sediment control specialists, now morphing into site environmental managers generally. These people are highly skilled and respected, and make a big contribution to site productivity, too. I see this as part of what Storm Cunningham calls the “restoration” economy – a vibrant economy that forms a growing proportion of the mainstream economy, and is focused on vibrant businesses, communities and ecosystems. Contributing also to the elusive “knowledge” economy, helping to make this concept more tangible.

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