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Climate Action Roadmap

Climate Action Roadmap

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Section 5

Pathway 2: Operating efficient sites powered by renewables

Retail sites occupy a range of different profiles. In high streets in towns across the UK, today’s retailers may occupy the same location and sometimes even the same buildings as used by their predecessors over one hundred years ago. Increasingly, throughout the last 50 years, shopping malls and out-of-town centres have become a focus of retail activities. And today, complex global supply chains and the rise of online shopping have moved a significant portion of UK retail floor area to large warehouses and distribution centres (DCs).


Figure 5: Growth of warehouse floorspace and internet sales, from the British Property Foundation


All physical premises have an associated energy demand, primarily for lighting, space heating and – where needed – cooling and refrigeration. The mix of energy demand will vary by site function, and be dependent on the building age and structure. Responsibility for site operations and energy will depend on building ownership and tenancy agreements, with control lying with the residing retailer, the landlord, or specialist site managers. 

In terms of emissions, retail sites are a small portion of total value chain emissions – generally under 10%, rising to 20% or more for hospitality outlets. However, although site operations are not the largest emissions hotpots, they are generally under full or partial control of the retailer, and actions that reduce the operating carbon footprint can provide operational cost savings. 

“A 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom-line benefit as a 5% increase in sales.” – The Carbon Trust


Thank You to The Crown Estate, Our Pathway 2 Partner