Tony Wilkes, Facilities Manager with Lee Baron, tells FM Magazine how partnering with retailers at Nuneaton's Ropewalk Shopping Centre has reduced electricity consumption, water consumption and landfill waste.
I joined Lee Baron in November 2015 as Centre Manager at Ropewalk Shopping Centre in Nuneaton. Over the past year, I have made it my mission to revitalise Ropewalk, designing and implementing an ambitious business plan that would lead my team to achieve a centre of true excellence in retail for the area.
Although often overlooked, sustainability is an integral part of facilities management. A sustainable approach to the management of retail property not only benefits retailers economically, but also responds to the changing demands of consumers who are increasingly concerned with ‘green’ matters. A well-implemented and effective ‘green policy’ can add value to the customer experience, as well as result in significant cost savings for all stakeholders.
Lee Baron has a robust environmental policy and an ethical and responsible business ethos. We take a forward-thinking approach to delivering new environmental innovation and understand the major impact buildings have on the environment. Facilities managers play an important role in addressing global environmental challenges. Working towards an ISO 14001 certification, Lee Baron has appointed ‘Green Champions’, tasked with overseeing various measures relating to environmental management, and actively encourages all of its staff to consider the impact of their activities, from minimising the use of paper and reducing energy consumption where possible, to integrating Health & Safety systems.
The implementation of environmental innovation is a significant factor in the business plan for Ropewalk, both through long-term investment and our day-to-day operations.
Reducing the cost of electricity has been a major focus of our environmental initiatives and we exceeded our initial forecast with reductions of 10 per cent in the first year which equates to enough energy to charge a smartphone for over a thousand years or make 2.4 million cups of tea!
Furthermore, we expect this figure to fall further as a result of new management practices and investments in LED lighting.
Discussions about renewable energy are unavoidable as concern over energy costs and climate change grows, and we are aiming to provide 100 per cent of the electricity supply to Ropewalk through "green energy" over the next few years.
However, the implementation of renewable energy presents many challenges since, as facilities managers, we must understand the different sources available and the financial implications of each in order to choose the most appropriate and financially viable option.
Collaboration with retailers is vital to the success of our environmental initiatives. At Ropewalk, we increase awareness amongst all on-site tenants of waste disposal costs and the importance of recycling. Within my first year at Ropewalk, over 78 tonnes of waste that left the shopping centre was recycled; that was almost two thirds (63 per cent) of all waste produced. This included more than a tonne of cardboard – the equivalent of 1,550 fully-grown trees. And through initiatives such as installing tele taps – a new design of tap which saves between 30% and 50% of water usage, is virtually maintenance free, and what’s more, has an LED screen which can be used for promotions – we saved 203,000 litres of water at Ropewalk. In the future, we aim to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill to zero, to achieve 75 to 95 per cent recycling by 2018, and predict that four tonnes of natural resources will be saved through the recycling of glass at Ropewalk also by 2018.
Lee Baron is always looking to maximise on emerging technology that can benefit facilities management. One such technology that we have implemented at Ropewalk is the Aqueous Ozone System, a state-of-the-art cleaning system that transforms tap water into a toxin-free cleaning agent which is much safer for both staff and customers.
For any business to be truly sustainable, management systems and processes must be continually reviewed to ensure their effectiveness. For the retail management sector, it is important to ensure that activities remain customer-focused while also benefitting retailers and the shopping centre itself. By embracing this approach, Lee Baron has ensured that our ‘green’ culture has become an integral part of the business and that facilities managers are continually rewarded for their contribution to environmental innovation.