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Construction of New Eco-store Uses 'Light Stuff'


The Proudfoot Group, a Scarborough-based independent retail chain, and innovative lighting solutions company Sola Skylights are pioneering the use of energy-efficient natural lighting and other ‘sustainable’ practices, taking advantage of the Seamer store’s need for renovation to develop an exciting new type of retail outlet – the ‘eco-store’.

Refurbishment of the 61-year-old store (the chain’s first) has already started and, according to Terry Petch, Project Manager for the renovation (also manager at another Proudfoot store), once the renovation is complete (ETC end of July 2007), the 4,000-f2 store will be a model of eco-friendly energy efficiency. Plans include using space-age insulation materials, heat exchange pumps which produce three kW of power for each kW they use, ultra high-efficiency refrigeration compressors, a solar-powered water heater, and on the roof of the store, solar cells and (if the town council gives permission) a wind turbine to generate electricity. In addition, a total of 28 ‘Sky Tunnels’ will channel daylight down to the store interior, reducing energy costs, creating a pleasant atmosphere for customers and staff – and showcasing the store’s products in natural daylight.

Petch made the decision to use Sky Tunnels after discussing the options with Sola Skylights’ Peter Wood – concluding that their flexible-tubing skylights would not only be much easier to install than comparable systems used on a previous project, but also would cost significantly less. Not a difficult choice, then.

“There is a growing demand for products that are low on energy use, and we focus on making it not only easier, but more cost-efficient, for builders and contractors to meet that demand,” says Wood. “Sola’s Sky Tunnels can be fitted in a variety of types of rooms and buildings, and we are hoping we can convince more architects and developers in general that it is a good idea – and not as complicated or expensive as they might think – to use natural instead of artificial light.

Another high-tech solution being implemented in the store’s conversion is the use of Tri-Iso 10 (also known as Triso-Super 10), an extremely thin, yet thermally super-effective insulation material. Based on a material originally developed by NASA (later adapted for building use by ACTIS), a 30-mm thickness is equivalent to 210 mm of mineral wool, making it possible to incorporate exceptional thermal efficiency without sacrificing aesthetic considerations in the design and execution of the ‘green’ re-fit.

“We opened one of the country’s very first supermarkets, so it is most appropriate to be once again leading the way, developing an entirely new, environmentally friendly type of supermarket,” says The Proudfoot Group’s Joint Managing Director, Ian Proudfoot. While they’re at it, they appear to be the “early adopters” of an entirely new approach to building, as well.

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