This is a retailer, not a green adventure zone," insists Mark Calderwood, store manager at Marks & Spencer's new 'eco-store' store in Glasgow. If that's the case, it's certainly doing a good impression of one.

The 70,000 sq ft Silverburn store, which sits in one of Scotland's newest and most prime retail locations, is Marks & Spencer's first new-build eco-store.

Since it opened in October, hoards of schoolkids have visited the concept store to find out more about the state-of-the art green technology it is showcasing.

One of M&S's three 'Plan A' concept stores (the other two concept stores are conversions), it boasts a raft of innovative features that if successful could be rolled out across the M&S estate. Among the most impressive are those relating to energy use.

Silverburn uses 55% less energy and emits 95% less carbon dioxide than similar-sized M&S stores, boasts Calderwood.

That's partly thanks to super-efficient refrigeration and lighting. The refrigeration system runs on hydrocarbons and CO2 refrigerants rather than HFCs and is the first at M&S to be fitted with guards to reduce cool air leakage. Daylight sensors in the outside display windows ensure that the lighting only comes on when required.

A 'sunpipe' has also been installed to provide natural daylight in staff areas and energy-efficient long-life light bulbs have been installed throughout.

The 2.3 million units of electricity the store does use are supplied by a 75-metre turbine in Aberdeenshire, owned by M&S's renewable energy partner Greenspan Agency.

M&S plans to erect a testing mast in the Silverburn car-park to determine the feasibility of bypassing the national electricity grid altogether over the next 12 months and instead power the store directly from an on-site turbine.

The retailer is confident that wind turbines will help it reduce its overall electricity consumption by 25% by 2012.

Its green agenda is not just being driven by technology, though. Silverburn has also been able to take advantage of Scotland's wet climate.

A tank in the back yard collects rainfall that provides all non-consumable water for the store, including water for the toilets and to clean the floors. As a result, it uses 40% less externally sourced water than a conventional store.

Marks & Spencer's Plan A green ethos is evident in the store's product range.The store features a much greater range of loose fruit and vegetables than a normal M&S with as much as possible sourced locally - some of it very locally, it seems.

"My dad is a farmer in Fife and supplies us with parsnips, carrots and turnips," says Calderwood. "We source locally where we can as long as we can get the quality of produce we're after.

"We're also doing a lot of work on packaging. Our apples are packed in fully pulpable and compostable recycled paper rather than plastic."

The household product range, meanwhile, features a higher-than-usual number of Fairtrade products. The Plan A goals even filter down to the clothes M&S staff wear, as the black fleece tops were once plastic bottles.

There are also storage areas for cycles and fitted showers for staff wanting to reduce their own environmental footprint by cycling to work, though Calderwood doesn't. "That's a step too far - that would kill me," he laughs.

Unsurprisingly, given the level of innovation on display, the store has attracted plenty of interest and not just from schoolkids.

"All our customers are keen to know about the changes we are making, so the eco-store concept has been a great way to improve our community profile," he says. "But what will make this project a success is providing the Marks & Spencer shopping experience they fully expect."n