Tesco Opens World’s First Zero Carbon Supermarket, Pledges $156 M to UK Green Economy

Last week, Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, opened the world’s first zero carbon supermarket.

The store has no net carbon footprint and exports any extra electricity generated back to the national grid.

Located in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, this new supermarket boasts several eco-friendly features, including:

  • A combined heat and power plant which runs on bio fuels from renewable sources
  • Timber framing derived from sustainable sources rather than steel (which significantly reduced the carbon footprint of construction)
  • Interior lighting that dims as the natural daylight increases, and skylights that allow daylight on to the sales floor
  • LED lights in the parking lot and gas station (This is the UK’s first LED-lit parking lot.)
  • Rainwater collection facilities on the roof which provide water for use in the car wash and to flush store toilets
  • Refrigerant gases in the fridges, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that have virtually no environmental impact
  • Solar-powered street lights and crossing signals
  • Additional energy-efficient equipment, such as low energy bakery ovens

The store cost about 30 percent, or about 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million), more than a traditional store, but Tesco expects that with a 45 percent reduction in energy use, the extra investment would pay back over 10 to 15 years, Reuters reports.

At the store’s grand opening, Tesco also announced that it will spend over 100 million pounds ($156 million) with UK green technology companies from February 2010 to February 2011.

“The challenge of climate change can only be faced by collective action,” Terry Leahy, Tesco Chief Executive said. “We want to cut our own carbon footprint and help suppliers and customers do the same.  We’ll be a zero carbon business by 2050 but only by working with our suppliers and others across the industry.”

In the Reuters’ article, Leahy makes it clear that he would like to see unambiguous and binding environmental targets set by the government. Until those are in place, however, businesses need to step up and take the lead, he says.  Tesco’s investment in green tech –such as CO2 refrigeration, combined heat and power plants and electric car charging points –would safeguard and create thousands of British jobs, Leahy adds.

For more on Tesco’s sustainability initiatives see the company’s website and this  earlier post about its efforts to reduce packaging.

As a corporate content specialist and a ghostwriter for C-level executives, Kathryn's work appears at Forbes, Industry Week and other leading trade publications and websites. She focuses on topics related to science, business sustainability, supply chain risk management and marketing. Find out more about Kathryn at www.CorporateWriter4Hire.com . You can follow Kathryn on Twitter: @CorpWriter4Hire.

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