Open doors of high street shops are costing the planet

Close the door for happier customers and more environmentally friendly operations UK stores are told

Source: Close the Door

Source: Close the Door

By Sophie Yeo

The weather outside will be slightly less frightful this year along the UK’s main shopping streets if environmentally irresponsible retailers have their way.

Many of the biggest high street shops pump out heat at the same time as they let in the cold by keeping their doors wide open despite freezing outside temperatures, fuelling the Christmas feast of carbon dioxide emissions.

Over 120 chain stores operating 20,000 stores within the UK operate an open door policy. Offenders include shops such as Lush and the Body Shop, which brand themselves as environmentally responsible companies, as well as Monsoon, Next and Miss Selfridge.

Many give the reason that an open door policy encourages more customers to come into the store, but campaign group Close the Door say that shops’ internal research has shown that closing the door does not have a detrimental effect on profit. Hundreds of shops, both chain and independent, trade very successfully with their doors closed.

Keeping the door closed can save companies money, since it prevents energy bills rocketing when the temperature drops.

Research by the University of Cambridge conducted in the winter of 2009/10 showed that keeping the door shut while the heating is on can reduce energy usage by up to 50%, or cut a shop’s annual CO2 emissions by up to 10 tonnes – the equivalent to 3 return flights from London to Hong Kong.

Many shops have now signed up to the campaign, including Costa Coffee, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Neal’s Yard.

Louise Green, head of sustainability at Neal’s Yard, said:  “It is simply a myth that a closed door will affect transactions and profit, the continued success of Neal’s Yard Remedies is proof that it doesn’t.”

The campaign has support from Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and numerous MPs.

Davey said: “This is such an easy and positive contribution retailers may make to cut energy use significantly while reducing their fuel bills – and increasing the comfort of their staff and customers.”

Smart phone savings

Separately, American researchers have come up with a way to cut the corporate world’s carbon footprint by making sure empty offices are not unnecessarily heated.

They suggest that employees’ smart phones are programmed to feed into the company’s existing network, which can automatically respond to where the people are located in the building.

This will reduce the heating or air conditioning in unused spaces. The smart phone system has the added advantage of being able to access information that would be unavailable to dedicated sensors, such as the type of work that is being performed.

This would ensure that cleaners are not blasted with heat while they are working, or that the air conditioner doesn’t overcool office workers in a meeting room.

Their findings are due to be published in the International Journal of Communication Networks and Distributed Systems.

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