UK Stores facing carbon cost time-bomb

Major retailers and landlords could face hefty fines as they are insufficiently prepared to deal with impending sustainability challenges, finds independent retail analysts, Verdict.

A fall in CO2 emissions from UK shops of 8.1 % in the last three years has led to government bodies and watchdogs assuming the sector is on target to meet sustainability goals. Verdict’s report, however, suggests that this figure has been grossly inflated by a 5.3% fall in retail space over the period.

Matt Piner, senior retail analyst at Verdict, comments: “With the problems created by the recession, the majority of UK retailers have allowed themselves to become distracted from their sustainability strategies.

“However, new legislation, such as the ‘Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme’ (CRC), means retailers that aren’t working aggressively to lower carbon emissions may face hefty fines.

“Many retailers remain ignorant of these impending, significant costs and the false economy of cutting sustainability investment. Our report estimates that UK retail faces a possible £300 million annual bill to cover the carbon emissions from stores.”

Verdict argues that construction companies and developers have an important role to play in helping to address this problem.

“Construction companies need to be proactive,” says Matt. “They must show they understand the issues facing retail property, taking the role of educators and demonstrating that they can assist retailers in addressing their problems. In this way they can help retailers meet carbon emission targets and establish an advantage over their less forward thinking rivals.”

On the construction and property side, Verdict singles out Willmott Dixon and Hammerson for praise in its report.

Matt concludes: “Companies like these realise a sustainable approach can be an advantage in creating demand for their brand and improving relationships with their clients. However, there are still too many that are waiting around under the illusion that new technology will provide ‘silver bullets’ to solve their problems. In reality the equipment already exists – it’s simply a case of having the design, strategies and training in place to utilise it.”

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