Published on March 5, 2014 | by Lydia Batham

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Shops Shutting their Doors

Shops across London are being encouraged to ‘close the door’ to keep energy prices down and stop air pollution. Jeannie Dawkins, who started the campaign,  says  extended exposure can lead to long term health issues for staff.

Research conducted by the Glass and Façade Technology Group, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge  over the winter of 2009/2010  found that shutting the door:

  • reduces energy use by 50%
  • can cut stores CO2 commisions by 10 tonnes – the equivalent of 3 return flights between London and Hong Kong
  • Assist with national reductions of carbon emissions by 34%
So far over 500 stores have signed up, including some big names in retail like John Lewis, M&S and Tesco. But, on a stroll down Oxford Street the majority of shops you see have their doors wide open. They blast music and warm air out onto the street, which on a cold day is undeniably inviting.

 

But the campaign isn’t for the customers, it’s for the staff. Shop Assistant Kathryn works in a store with an open door policy and told us “it’s freezing. We sometimes have layers challenges and see how many coats we can put on. The ‘world record’ is every size”.

 

An Aircurtain in action – stopping the cold air from getting in.

Her manager Tom tried closing the door last winter and found their footfall dropped by around 40 people a day, “people just don’t open the door when it’s closed”. This then impacts on the money they make. While he agreed that closing the door would be better for the environment and lower energy costs, he’s not convinced they’d make enough money to notice the difference.

To keep the shop warm they use an air curtain, which is popular in many stores.  These work by providing a fast moving warm air stream that blocks cold air coming in from the street. They also have a heater behind the till to keep the staff from getting too cold when standing around.

The staff have a heater behind the till to keep them warm.

Further research by King’s College London and Edinburgh University  has also shown that high level exposure to air pollution can lead to long term health problems like heart disease – and shop staff could be at risk.   Later this year Dr Ken Barrett of King’s College London will look into the retail environment in a high pollution area of London.

In the meantime, shops will remain advised to keep their doors closed, but it seems they’ll need some convincing yet.

You can check air pollution levels near you here and here

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