thecentre:mk is one of the largest shopping centre in Europe. With 250 occupiers and over 30 million visitors a year, its environmental initiatives are making a difference.
By Kevin Stanley
29 October 2009
thecentre:mk is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. With 240 occupiers and over 30 million visitors a year, its environmental initiatives are making a difference
Since 2002 thecentre:mk has shown a commitment to minimising its impact on the environment. It is now looking beyond the obvious solutions for schemes to maximise the positive benefits of its environmental efforts.
The shopping centre now powers its company vehicles with biodiesel, produced in the onsite biodiesel plant from used cooking oil provided by food retailers. This specific initiative significantly reduces the emissions of the centre whilst also reducing other impacts on the environment. It also saves the centre money, reducing fuel bills by over 80 per cent.
Biodiesel is the Ultimate sustainable solution to these problems as it Uses waste to create a useable product, reducing both cost and demand on natural resources. Since April 2009 they have been able to regularly produce 50 litres a week for use in the company vehicles. The blend varies from 25 per cent right up to 100 per cent and is vehicle dependent.
To ensure maximum efficiency any excess fuel, not used in the company vehicles, is scheduled to be used to power a generator which charges up the four carbon neutral Electric Vehicles (EV) which collect the recycling (including the waste cooking oil) from the occupiers.
Given the considerable range of biodiesel options available, the decision had to be made whether to buy pre-made biodiesel or generate it onsite. After detailed research onsite generation was chosen. This required some safety precautions, as well as adequate insurance, and there were some early difficulties to overcome, but the benefits of onsite generation, such as self sufficiency, definitely justified the extra effort put in by the team.
Biodiesel generated onsite produces lower emissions and reduces the need for external procurement and the associated carbon emissions. It also mitigates the issues of waste oil being inappropriately disposed of in the centre's drains and provides another recycling stream for our occupiers.
Producing biodiesel onsite is substantially cheaper than buying traditional vehicle fuel (10p per litre to produce compared with around £1.02 per litre to buy) and it's estimated that the capital expenditure for the set-up and running costs of the biodiesel plant will have been recovered in just over a year.
In order for the whole system to work the centre needed to secure the interest of its occupiers as well as securing their waste cooking oil. Symbiotic relationships were formed from the already established relationships with occupiers across the centre and following face-to-face communication with targeted occupiers, response for the biodiesel scheme was strong. Several of biggest retailers signed up for regular collections, including Wagamama, Giraffe, and John Lewis, all of which support the scheme due to ease of collection and the ethical drivers behind the project.
Sunil Shah, lead judge for the category and head of sustainability at Jacobs, said: thecentre: mk is a great example of a proactive approach to implementing a renewable technology. The team has a blend of enthusiasm and commercial acumen to capture and implement a product that is scalable across the FM industry
The shopping centre is owned by Hermes Real Estate and PRUPIM, both of whom have committed to make significant cuts to the environmental impacts of their property portfolios and are very impressed with the results of this initiative.
Our team is always looking to find new and innovative solutions to the facilities management and operational issues the shopping centre faces says head of operations, Dan Murphy. Each member of the operations team is encouraged to come up with new ideas and we often have several environmental initiatives being explored at any one time
MITIE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Mitie has been working with CLG since 2004 to introduce efficiencies and cost savings through an integrated approach to FM. The judges held that the passion and drive was clear to see in the presentation team who have excelled in implementing environmental and social benefits engaging with the client and staff members providing practical and tangible benefits.