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intu owns and manages many of the UK’s biggest and most popular retail and leisure destinations, including nine of the top 20. The intu owned shopping centres attract some 400 million customer visits each year from three quarters of the UK’s population. With over 115,000 jobs supported at intu’s centres in the UK, representing some 4% of the total retail workforce, FTSE 100 company intu is fully committed to working with its local communities and the wider environment.

To maintain a comfortable experience for customers, shopping centres require significant amounts of energy, particularly because of the high demand for heating, cooling, and lighting. But intu has made a strong commitment to improving sustainability and energy efficiency on an ongoing basis, which has helped the company to make considerable improvements, and to twice achieve recertification to the Carbon Trust Standard.

In October 2014 the Carbon Trust presented intu with the ‘Best in Continuing Carbon Reduction 2013-14’ Award at the Carbon Trust Standard Bearers Conference at the British Museum. The company achieved the combined top rank for cumulative reduction and carbon management score, amongst all organisations that have held the Carbon Trust Standard continuously for three certification periods or more. Recent carbon saving initiatives included a major project across the group to replace lighting with LEDs, upgrading air conditioning and heating in certain shopping centres, and introducing better building management systems and controls on lighting and escalators.

Intu shopping centre

Alan Richardson, intu’s Group Energy Manager, manages the delivery of the company’s ambitious sustainability targets. Since 2012 he has overseen the development of a company-wide sustainability strategy drive that has seen a 30% reduction in carbon emissions.

How has intu managed to reduce its carbon footprint?

At the start of 2012 intu set an ambitious target to reduce like for like carbon emissions by 30% over 3 years using 2011 emissions as a baseline. This has been successfully achieved through the implementation of a strategic energy management plan, a massive LED re-lamping project and the instigation of an energy manager network across all of our shopping centres.

The intu LED re-lamping project is one of the largest in the UK, spread across 10 shopping centres over £8M pounds were invested and over 80,000 lamps installed. Lux (Lighting Industry Association) Awards described the project as “a LED rollout of awesome scale”.

In addition to centrally managed projects such as LED, each centre has its own energy manager responsible for local projects and management initiatives, with its own energy plan and targets reviewed regularly by the group energy manager.

intu's 2011 portfolio has saved over 35,000 tonnes of CO2, 53 million kilowatt hours of electricity and £5.5 million on energy expenditure since the end of 2011 through its efficiency programme, a massive 30% like for like carbon reduction achieved over 3 years.

How can you continue to improve sustainability over the coming years?

intu have set a new target of 50% carbon intensity reduction from 2010 to 2020, to replace the 30% by 2014 which we achieved. This is one of the most ambitious carbon reduction targets we are aware of, in any large business, so it will require even greater commitment than we have shown over the past three years but we do think it is achievable.

In order to meet our 50% target, each site is tasked with 5% continual improvement through local initiatives such as improved management and local site specific projects. We also have group-wide projects such as Mobius (photovoltaic) and P4 (continuation of our LED roll out) with particular focus on centres we have acquired since the start of the project to bring them to the 90%+ LED coverage level of the other centres. intu are also working towards ISO50001 to build upon our energy management systems across the portfolio.

What business benefits have you seen from implementing these measures?

Aside from the obvious environmental and financial savings, our LED project has had several additional benefits. Maintenance is significantly reduced as LED lasts much longer than conventional lighting this is a benefit with normal height fixtures, but when your lamp is over thirty foot in the air as many are in our larger mall atria it’s particularly beneficial.

Since the LED project covered all areas of our centres including malls, car parks, service corridors and offices, it allowed us to take a holistic look at our lighting and improve things like emergency lighting making our centres a safer place. The most significant benefit has been that by following our golden rule that wherever we replaced a lamp we would improve and increase the light, we have made our shopping centres safer and more visually appealing places to visit and work. intu’s goal is to create the perfect shopping and leisure environment for our customers, with LED we have worked towards that ‘and’ saved energy in the process.

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