Shopping centre is buzzing after slashing electricity use

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Eagles Meadow Centre manager Kevin Critchley in the meter room.

A shopping centre underlined its reputation as the greenest in Wales after slashing its use of electricity – by keeping the lights on.

Over the past 12 months Eagles Meadow in Wrexham has cut electricity consumption by 82,000 kilowatt, a seven per cent saving.

Since the drive to make the shopping centre more eco-friendly started in 2010 there’s been a whopping 440,000 kilowatt reduction.

Another result of the campaign is that only four per cent of the centre’s waste goes to landfill.

Meanwhile, the landlord water consumption fell by 27 per cent last year, which is equivalent to 740,000 litres,

Manager Kevin Critchley is extremely proud of their record but says they aren’t resting on their laurels.

He said: “Our recycling percentage was almost zero from when I arrived here in 2009.

“Shopping centres are huge buildings and they consume huge amounts of resources, both in the construction and in the on-going running of them.

“We really do think that it’s up to us to do our absolute best to reduce the environmental impact of the building.

“One of the first steps we took back in 2010 was to collect data and where the electricity was being used.

“Then we targeted the places that were using the most energy. Small tweaks can make a big impact when you use as much electricity as we do.

“It sounds counterintuitive but sometimes it can be more energy efficient to have lights on all of the time than to have them turn off and on using a sensor. That’s because it can take more energy to turn a bulb on than to keep it on. It’s similar to when you start up a car. It takes a lot more energy to get it moving than to keep the momentum going.

“There’s also another benefit, because bulbs tend to wear out faster when you’re turning them on and off all of the time, so by keeping them on at it means they last longer and we have to buy less.

“Another thing we did was we made sure that the cleaners only cleaned places that have natural light during the day. That way we wouldn’t have lights turned on when they didn’t need to be.

“You have to think very carefully about the changes you make as well because you need to make sure they don’t adversely affect the running of the shopping centre.

“There wasn’t one quick gain – just lots and lots of small savings spread right across the year, right across the centre.”

He said: “We believe we may well be the greenest shopping centre in Wales.

“Improving our green credentials and upping our game in terms of recycling is a major part of my job and one we take very seriously at Eagles Meadow.

“We have also introduced food collection from restaurants – it is sent for anaerobic decomposition rather than landfill.

“We recycle 100 per cent of our cardboard and 100 per cent of our glass and I’m now looking at ways of upping the percentage of the compacted waste that’s being recycled.

“The reduction was achieved through a number of common sense measures. It was by cleaning and security staff being aware and reporting any waste. Things like leaking taps and toilets where the valve’s gone so it’s constantly cycling.

“The trick is to get them to look for it, to get them involved so they report it and then we quickly get it fixed.”

He paid tribute to the contribution of the whole team at the shopping centre, which includes Operations Manager Stuart Bellis and the cleaning, maintenance and security staff.

Mr Critchley said: “We’ve got some fantastic people working here who are really committed to Eagles Meadow. All the small savings have combined to make a great big impact.”