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Clean energy programmes drive M&S to runaway ‘Plan A’ successes

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Marks & Spencer has cemented its clean energy credentials by reporting runaway successes under its Plan A initiative.

The programme, established in 2007 and revised two years ago to transition the business to carbon neutrality, set out a number of goals regarding M&S’ energy consumption and procurement for the coming years.

While aiming to procure all of its electricity from renewable sources, the retailer also aimed to significantly reduce the amount of energy it used across its stores, offices and warehouses by 2020.

Last month the company revealed that its energy consumption had fallen by 40% across the board, but a Plan A update released yesterday provided significantly more detail in how that had been achieved.

Claiming that the company remained – to its best knowledge – the only major retailer in the world which is carbon neutral in its operations, M&S revealed that it reduced its energy consumption per square foot by 39% since 2006/07, resulting in an average figure across UK and Republic of Ireland stores, warehouses and offices of 34.9kWh/sqft for the previous year.

Its stores remain its most energy intensive facilities with energy use of 41.7kWh/sqft, which is an adjusted figure due to reflect “changes in the number of cold days”. The year also saw M&S renew its ISO50001 certification across its entire portfolio of UK/ROI stores and offices.

Energy consumption of its warehouses has seen a significant drop since 06/07 and is now down to an average figure of 16kWh/sqft, while its office consumption figure has fallen to 33.5kWh/sqft.

M&S’ aim is to achieve an average energy consumption figure across its entire property portfolio of 28.7kWh/sqft by 2020.

This will then be coupled with renewable energy procurement and on-site generation to ensure that its operations are kept carbon neutral. Last year M&S procured around 148GWh of renewable electricity from small-scale generators and this looks set to increase, with the retailer having also recently signed contracts to increase its biomethane procurement to 172,000MWh each year from 2016/17.

Mike Barry, sustainable business director at M&S, said that the company’s success had been down to constantly updating Plan A as and when required.

“The marketplace changes, leaders change, new issues emerge, new solutions are developed. A business's commitment to the long haul of truly sustainable change is constantly being tested and questioned,” he said.

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