The global brand's latest UK opening sets a new sustainable standard for retail
“You are 24 years old and you have never been to IKEA?!”, exclaimed my co-workers in disbelief as I pondered over visiting the new Greenwich store. The embarrassment was reason enough to explore the latest outpost from the Scandinavian homeware stalwart, so it was a bonus to discover the incredibly sustainable foundations which the store has been created on.
Arriving on the Jubillee line, unavoidable signage ushered me towards the new store, and as I rounded the corner, I was to be greeted by a behemoth 344,445sq ft structure. The Greenwich IKEA is the brand’s 22nd big box format store in the UK and is their most sustainable incarnation yet. Inside, it is awash with natural light, greatly reducing the dependence on artificial lighting, however the glowing green credentials don’t end there.
The store also has a BREEAM Excellent accreditation, photovoltaic solar panels, rainwater harvesting and grey water treatment to reduce water consumption by 50 per cent; and as well as aiming to be powered by 100% renewable energy.
Snaking through the wonderful conveyor belt of sleek interior design, each room is beautifully put together and is instantly followed by a whirlwind of creative ideas for home, office, restaurant and retail premises. Spearheaded by Generation Z, interest in homeware has mushroomed in the UK, with traditional clothing stores such as H&M and Zara jumping on the trend, and providing stylish yet affordable solutions for the home. Gen Z are fuelled by social media and are attracted by the fast-fashion nature of the homeware ranges, with a strong desire to buy into the latest look.
IKEA’s responsible efforts transcend beyond their building and into the lives of their customers and employees as they seek to integrate in to the community with products, workshops and advice to help them lead healthier and more responsible lives.
The Swedish mantra, “Lagom är bast” means “the right amount is best”, and they believe it to be the key to sustainable living.
The community focus within the new store includes a multitude of opportunities for people to use the area as a somewhere relax, unwind and socialise. The grand shop also features ‘IKEA’s Learning Lab’, which is an in store creative hub where upcycling workshops and demonstrations take place, creating opportunities to reuse more and waste less. There is also a serene rooftop pavilion and garden with panoramic views over London, which can be used as a workstation and to be rented out for functions.
When mainstream stores and landlords begin to realise the importance of sustainability in the design and construction of their units, we should begin to see rapid and major changes in the retail and property landscape.
Until we do see more trailblazing efforts to set a new sustainable standard in retail, you may see me in IKEA more often.