As the European Commission pushes even harder to improve energy efficiency in buildings, which it sees as one of the 'easiest' ways of meeting emission reduction targets, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is calling for the well-respected BREEAM standard, the world's longest established and most widely used sustainable assessment method for buildings, to be adapted for use across Europe.
Breeam (The BRE Environmental Assessment Method. www.breeam.org) sets out the standards for best practice in sustainable development and demonstrates a clear level of achievement.
Earlier this year ICSC set up a Sustainability Working Group, made up of 21 ICSC members across 7 countries to ensure that the industry is better informed of developments and to ensure an ongoing dialogue with EU policy makers.
According to Sarah Lee, of EU Public Affairs company Cabinet Stewart, which is helping ICSC gain access to key influencers within the Commission, despite the drive for improvement, many member states are dragging their heels on meeting their energy efficiency requirements, so the ICSC has kick-started an important initiative which should speed up the drive to develop a common set of standards within the key sector of retail construction and development.
After extensive research and comparisons the ICSC Sustainability Working Group, chaired by ICSC European Chair and COO of Redevco Europe, Jaap Gillis, with representatives from other companies such as Sonae Sierra, Multi Development, ING Real Estate and Immochan, has now launched its initiative to develop a pan-European BREEAM framework, in order to establish a common level playing field across the continent.
In November this year ICSC will have a first series of meetings with EU policy makers, which Gillis hopes will be the first step in an ongoing process to engage in the policy debate and make sure that the voice of the industry is heard before any policies are formed.
He said: "We want to prevent separate assessment frameworks being developed across Europe, which is not practical or efficient. BRE has offered a common approach to ICSC starting with projects in Turkey and Germany as pilot countries and we want real estate developers and retailers to participate in this ICSC project which will help us achieve our aim to create sustainable development earlier rather than later. With the help of other parties we also wish to develop additional pilot projects in France, Netherlands and other countries
Participants are clear that developing a pan-European BREEAM, a tried and tested standard which is working well in the UK, will help achieve improved standards across Europe. However, co-operation between everyone within the industry, from developers and retailers to shopping centre management, is a pre-requisite since wider participation will means lower costs. At present, costs appear to be loaded onto the developer at construction stage whilst the operational costs incurred by shopping centre management and retailers are likely to be lower. Gillis is determined to find a way to share both the costs and benefits of green buildings.
He is also keen to support the launch of local green building councils across European countries since the national BREEAM frameworks need to be managed and maintained."
The current version of BREEAM Retail can only be applied in the UK as it relates specifically to that country's regulatory and best practice standards as well as local construction techniques, availability and practicality of design and construction options. The benchmarks for energy and water also relate to local climatic and social factors which may differ across Europe.
"By sharing industry expertise and best practices in energy efficiency with key European decision makers, ICSC members can help to shape the policy environment which they face," said Gillis.