A BASINGSTOKE supermarket is at the forefront of an environmental revolution aimed at making Sainsbury’s the UK’s greenest grocer.

Work is in progress at the Kempshott store to dramatically cut its energy costs with the installation of ground source heat pumps.

The pioneering technology uses heat from the back of the store’s fridges, chillers and freezers to heat and cool the store, as well as providing hot water.

It is supplied by a company called Geoscart, which is working with the supermarket and British Gas to provide ground-source heating across 100 Sainsbury’s stores.

About 30 stores have had work completed so far, including the one in Newbury.

Sainsbury’s Kempshott store manager Daryl Copper explained: “Just like home refrigerators, chillers and freezers in supermarkets produce excess heat.

“The new geo exchange, which is basically a heat chamber installed 200 feet under part of our car park, collects waste heat and stores it away to be used in the colder months.

“We expect 100 per cent of the store’s heating will be provided using the geo exchange.”

Likening it to a huge “thermal storage radiator,” Daryl said the technology will also make the store’s refrigeration more energy efficient.

“Ultimately, we’re looking at saving around 30 per cent of the store’s energy requirements,” he added.

He went on to say that the new technology makes commercial sense as well as doing something positive towards protecting the environment.

“One of our long term goals as a company as a whole, is to become Britain’s greenest retailer by 2020,” said Daryl.

Preparation work started at the store in Wallop Drive just before Christmas and work is progressing well with contractor Longcross, which is currently drilling 200 ft deep holes.

It is here that eventually heat will be taken down to a series of underground chambers that are insulated by the surrounding rock.

The heat is pumped back up to the surface as and when the store requires it.

Daryl said: “The works are planned to finish around about the end of March.

“The only thing people will see following completion of the work will be 12 extra manhole covers in the car park.”

The work has caused quite a stir among some customers.

Daryl said: “We’ve had a lot of interesting feedback from customers.

“Many of them are pleased that we are making this sort of investment with regards to the environment.”