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Garden centre eco department is a first for UK, Dobbies claims

Company plans to roll-out sustainability concept in future stores if initial one proves a success.

Dobbies' new garden centre in Peterborough is the first containing a dedicated eco department, the company has claimed.

The garden centre is Dobbies' most environmentally friendly in England. It was built with natural materials such as timber frame and contains sustainable systems such as grey water recycling and biomass heating.

The 1,500sq ft Eco-Living Centre is the first large-scale eco department in the country and includes ranges to help consumers consider greener and more responsible products.

It includes an area in partnership with EDF Energy focusing on long-term energy solutions such as solar panels and insulation. If the trial in Peterborough is successful, Dobbies intends to use the concept in other stores.

"If this works it is definitely planned to put it into other garden centres," said sustainability manager Richard Jardine. "We are already including similar spaces in the planning applications for future stores."

The Peterborough garden centre also includes a solar-panelled car port for customers to charge electric vehicles for free. The panels produce enough electricity to power a three-bedroom house.

Dobbies' chief executive James Barnes said the centre was designed to work in harmony with the environment. "It aims to show people how they can enhance their lives by being more sustainable.

"The Eco Centre is a shop within a shop that helps people learn about how to live more sustainably. If it's successful we hope to do more."

Simple but educational message for customers

Richard Jardine, sustainability manager, Dobbies: "The message is simple but educational. The aim is to give customers the right information to make an informed choice. We are not trying to ram home green living as the way forward but trying to send a different message. We're just saying to people that here are all the things you can do to be green. We still sell the other products and people can make the choice. They can take the information, digest it and do with it what they want."

Source : Jonathan Tilley – Horticulture Week

25 August 2011
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