How interior fit out and retail design can have a positive impact on the environment

We’ve evolved a lot in the last decade. Whereas in the past businesses didn’t give much thought to their carbon footprint – as they felt that larger corporations were more at fault – these days, businesses of all sizes are doing their part to protect the environment and minimise their impact, by incorporating sustainable interior design into their strategy.

Why should businesses care about sustainability?

The truth is – we can no longer hide from the impact our actions are having on the planet. From growing landfills to the melting polar ice caps, to animals being found coated in oil/pollution/tangled in litter, on a daily basis, the news is providing us with proof that global warming is real, happening and that we are at fault.

Yet, how can you prevent it? How can your one/collection of stores make a difference?

Honestly? In more ways than you think…

Take the following. Any of these environmentally friendly solutions has the power to positively change our outlook:

• Sustainable heating systems
• Water recycling
• Reducing carbon footprint
• Carbon-neutral deliveries
• Zero waste shopping i.e. encourages shoppers to recycle containers/bring their own and eliminates the need for plastic packaging and carrier bags

This last one has proven itself to be particularly effective at boosting customer experiences, to the point where many retailers are starting to invest in this type of sustainable practice and use it within their retail design.

Other things to consider:

t is not only the environment that will benefit from sustainability. Sustainable designs have also been found to reduce business costs, according to Schneider Electric.

In their report, they revealed how retail buildings are amongst the largest consumers of energy in Europe, contributing a staggering $20 billion a year (on non-residential buildings). Much of this cost is down to the use of electricity, air conditioning and lighting – all of which add to their carbon footprint and emissions.

Yet, by being more eco-friendly you can make immediate savings. For instance, a 20% cut in energy costs can offer you the same bottom-line benefit of a 5% increase in sales. And who can say no to that?

How can businesses be sustainable in their design and fit outs?

FACT: 87% of Americans would purchase products from businesses that advocate for social and environmental responsibility.

At this point, you’re probably wondering – how on earth can I become more sustainable when lighting, air conditioning and electricity are essential to a functioning business?

Well, the good news is – there are a number of tricks you can try to achieve a sustainable interior fit out.
1. Build with sustainable materials – using reclaimed timber and recycled materials (recycled paper/floor tiling, fishing nets, ocean plastic, etc.) can offer you immediate savings as they are much cheaper to access. Stella McCartney for example has utilised recycled foam and card made from waste paper (from London offices) throughout her flagship store in London. In addition, she has harnessed biodegradable mannequins – made from 72% sugarcane bioplastic – because of their ability to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

TIP: use natural materials as much as possible within your store design. This can include: wood, clay, stone, wool, lime, straw and coir.

Tip 2: Harness used materials and repurpose them within your stores e.g. steel beams, concrete, etc.

Tip 3: Use recomposed materials e.g. recycled marble and crushed glass to make new materials.

2. Lighting – the easiest way to minimise how often you have to switch on a light is to make full use of natural daylight.

The simple act of having large and open windows can instantly re-energise your office/store and improve the health of your team, while lowering your bill. And in the event that you do need to switch on a light? Make sure you use LED lighting that is supported by solar panels. Combined, these two techniques can help to reduce the amount of electricity used, while being better for the environment as you are using nature to support your store.

Tip: covering your roof in solar panels will not only ensure that your store stays powered; it will also make it reliant on only solar energy instead.

Tip 2: use energy saving light bulbs and motion sensors. This will ensure that your lights only turn on when they detect movement (using less electricity), or/as well as when there is not enough natural light.

3. Heating and water – you’ve got two choices here: geothermal heating or harvesting rain for water.

Ikea for example chooses to harvest rainwater captured on their roofs and in doing so have managed to reduce their London stores water consumption by 50%.

4. Interiors –

* Upcycle furnishings – upcycling old furniture and giving it a fresh purpose can have the dual advantage of reducing your expenses and keeping you on trend. In fact, upscaling is incredibly popular at the moment, as a simple lick of paint/repair can make all the difference. Another strategy you can try is purchasing vintage pieces and decorating your store with them. Not only will these furnishings prove to be cheaper than buying brand new furniture; they’ll give your business a design edge.

* Minimise paper usage – replacing price tags and signs for your displays with digital screens will immediately reduce the amount of paper you waste, as you’ll be able to update your signs/prices at a click of a button. Similarly, offering customers a email receipt – instead of a physical one – not only lowers the amount of paper used, but will also improve their shopping experience (89% of customers prefer digital receipts to physical ones), as they won’t have to hunt around for a receipt if they want to return it. Instead, all they’ll need to do is pull up their emails.

* Reduce single use plastics – you can adopt a zero waste store mentality and swap out single use plastic packaging for glass containers i.e. eco-friendly packaging. These containers can be immediately reused by the customer and are better for the environment as they won’t end up on landfills or in the ocean. Similarly, you can ban plastic bags from your store and offer your customers reusable containers.

Other suggestions:

* recycled plastic displays created from old plant pots, food packaging, bottles and coffee grounds.
* Opt for energy saving/energy efficient appliances and equipment.
* Digitise all processes/tasks where possible e.g. move content, files and inventory management online.

Whether your decision to become eco-friendly stems from customer demand, or you simply want to protect the environment; just make sure that you actively promote this message within your core values. Given that 88% of customers want businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprint; your honesty and commitment towards sustainability will positively influence their perception of your business, making them more loyal.

More importantly, it will save you money in the long run.

Fortunately, at Resolution Interiors we can help you to harness these sustainable design tips and successfully incorporate them into your interior design. So if you’re looking to become more sustainable, then why not contact our team today. With years of interior fit-out experience, we can help your business to achieve your goals and ensure that you are as eco-friendly as possible. For more information, contact Resolution Interiors.

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