The retail sector is the largest commercial property sector and a vital part of the UK economy. Valued at over £300 billion, it accounts for one in 12 companies and employs one in nine working people. Businesses in the sector are diverse, ranging from multinational corporations to small independent stores. Across this diversity, the sector as a whole faces a number of challenges, including the global economic slowdown and the growing problem of energy management.
Currently, all firms and organizations pay energy bills, but not all actively 'manage' energy. Where energy management does occur, it is usually driven by financial concerns or corporate social responsibility, rather than being treated as a strategic business opportunity (Cooremans 2011). Energy prices have increased significantly in recent years, as have the number and nature of government requirements for understanding, displaying, and reporting energy consumption. Over the past 40 years, the poor uptake of retrofit technologies and management practices has resulted in efficiency and performance 'gaps' between how buildings perform in practice and in theory.
Working with Infrastructure, Creation of Knowledge, and Energy strategy Development (WICKED) bridges these gaps through scientific research on buildings, energy and organisational behaviour. WICKED’s cooperative research programme uses a mix of partner engagement, big data analytics, and empirical research to investigate the retail sector at multiple scales. Building on this evidence base, it co-designs market-ready energy strategies for diverse user groups.