Driving on the M1 not far from where I live, one comes to the vale of distribution centres. It’s around Milton Keynes, presumably situated within reach of London but beyond its vastly over-inflated land prices. There are several huge buildings here, including Amazon, John Lewis, and River Island. One of them is Tesco’s. Next to it is a solitary wind turbine, standing like the corporation’s conscience. In case you don’t make the connection, there’s a banner across the side of the building telling motorists that this clean energy means less CO2.
I’ve often wondered how credible that banner is – what is the ecological impact of a distribution centre? How much of its energy could one modest turbine meet, especially if the warehouse is refrigerated? And how would you build a genuinely sustainable distribution centre?
This year’s BREEAM awards answer that last question for me, because one of the winners is EcoStyle‘s new warehouse in the Netherlands. It’s built to blend in to the surroundings, and its stone walls create mini-habitats for wildlife. It generates enough electricity from its solar panels to export to the grid, and it captures its own water from the rain – and why wouldn’t you do both of those things with that amount of roof space to play with?
Here’s a little tour video. Next time you’re building a distribution centre Tesco, do it like this: