Working in partnership with our supplier, MAS, the first of our four 'eco-factories' opened in May 2008. Designed to be carbon neutral, the lingerie manufacturing site, in Thuruliya in Central Sri Lanka, combines energy saving devices, renewable energy, waste reduction processes and a healthy working environment for the factory workers.
The primary power source for the factory is renewable energy brought in through the national grid, supplemented by on-site solar panels. These will supply 10% of the energy.
Every aspect of the building has been designed to minimise its environmental impact. Even the building materials - mainly 'eco-bricks' - have low embodied energy. Overall, it uses around 40% less electricity than a standard, similar scale factory.
Planting greenery on and around the site (including the factory's roof) creates a cooler micro-climate. In addition, the bio-diversity enhances and revitalises local flora and fauna.
Rainwater harvesting and low-flow fixtures aim to reduce water usage in the factory by around 50%. Nearly all waste is separated and sorted for recycling, with anaerobic digestion being processed to produce bio-gas for the kitchens.
Overall, it uses around 40% less electricity than a standard, similar scale factory.
For the workers, the natural lighting, views and fresh airflows will provide a comfortable, positive environment. There's a holistic medical centre on site too, with provisions to care for the 1300 personnel expected to be working there by 2010.
This groundbreaking development is a logical move on from the success of our eco-stores in Bournemouth and Pollok. Many of the best practices implemented there have been translated on a larger scale for the factory. Even during the construction stages, we were thinking about Plan A - the work was carried out in an environmentally-friendly way, with waste being recycled wherever possible.
The factory is aiming to achieve the highest status in 'green building' certification by LEED, a widely accepted international scheme run by the US Green Building Council.
So, since May 2008, our supplier in Sri Lanka has manufactured lingerie exclusively for us in a factory that's aiming to be as green as the surrounding countryside. That's something to give us all a boost.
We're delighted that Joanna Lumley is supporting our Shwopping campaign to help Oxfam, find out how to get involved here.