REP's fifth retail sustainability roundtable gathers top industry leaders (FR)
Monday 23 November 2009
|On Thursday, November 19th, REP (Real Estate Publishers) gathered eight leading players in sustainable retail development, management, finance, and design at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, France. Organized in cooperation with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and MAPIC, the fifth retail sustainability roundtable demonstrated the significant progress made since the first roundtable in 2007, while highlighting the considerable distance that still needs to be covered.|
By Bernd Struben, Senior Editor, REP
FLTR Clockwise: Mathieu Regnault, Marketing Manager, Reed MIDEM; Derek Barker, Managing Director, Haskoll; Paul Edwards, Head of Sustainability, Hammerson; Nadia Boschi, Sustainability Manager, Bovis Lend Lease; Jean-Michel Despaux, Head of Property Development, Wilhelm & Co; Bernd Struben, Senior Editor, REP; Marinus Dijkman, President, REP; Christian Grossschartner, Development Director, RED; Filipa Fernandes, Head of Research & Innovation, SES Spar; Jasper Klapwijk, General Manager Strategy & Marketing, ING Real Estate Development; Alvaro Portela, CEO, Sonae Sierra; Eva Gherdani, Conferences Manager, Reed MIDEM; Willem Kars, Corporate Branding, REP
The first REP and ICSC sustainability roundtable took place at the Hotel Ambassador in Paris in September 2007, followed by a second gathering hosted by MAPIC in Cannes in November 2007. The third roundtable took place at the Movenpick Hotel in Amsterdam in July 2008, while the fourth was held in November 2008 in the Majestic Hotel in Cannes.
At the fifth gathering there was unanimous agreement for a pressing need to move forward with creating an effective pan-European rating system that can be compared across borders. The current systems still offer too much variance between different countries. Most participants agreed and were able to demonstrate that sustainability adds value to shopping centers, and that it is more than simply about saving energy (though that is quite important) but involves the larger picture of improving the quality of life for shoppers, employees, and neighbors.
Alvaro Portela, CEO, Sonae Sierra
Alvaro Portela, CEO, Sonae Sierra: “We continue to perceive sustainability as a target that we have to look for in our everyday business. But there are changes. One of them is that this year we are implementing an environmental accounting in the company. This will put us in a much better position to determine the issue of what the costs are and what the benefits are for internal purposes. We are trying to put figures in terms of the environment in monetary units as opposed to carbon tons. We tend to think about the environment in terms of what is needed to be spent and never what we get from it. And what we get is not marketing, that’s a byproduct, what we get is a much better environment in which to operate the company and the people in the company. They are much more proud of working in our company because they know we care about the environment. There are immense benefits which are not quantifiable. Although it’s very easy to get all the costs, it’s much more difficult to calculate all the benefits. The stand by the law thing is very passive. Naturally all developers should abide by the law; but there is something more important than that, to make all the efforts you can to be sustainable. In Portugal we are now measuring the quality of air inside our malls and publishing it real time inside the mall. That information makes the customers appreciate what we are doing and say, ‘we’ll shop here.’ A number of retailers are attached to the green label because they want to be seen as green activists.”
Filipa Fernandes, Head of Research & Innovation, SES Spar
Filipa Fernandes, Head of Research & Innovation, SES Spar: “Year after year we’ve seen that even people who were not originally so open to the subject of sustainability are getting into the idea. It is important to be able to clearly demonstrate the benefits. We are developing a program to check the costs in all the areas in which we invest, not just carbon but also in energy, social issues and all the areas of sustainability, to see how much we invest and what we get back so it will be clear to everyone why we are putting money into these issues. It has to become part of the culture, that people really feel it and are committed, not just because the law says we have to do it. With our partners and our tenants we give a lot of educational sessions to explain the importance of being green and what we are promoting in terms of our sustainability strategy. We honestly don’t care much about the rating system. For us it’s not a matter of points, it’s a question of what is better for our company and what will give us a better position in terms of quality and that’s where we will invest more. Energy and water are important, but social and community issues come first. We are investing a lot in these because this is a way to bring all the people together and share ideas on energy and water. I think customers are getting more aware of our sustainability measures. They are starting to do more and more themselves, like separating the garbage in our centers. An example of social sustainability is the kindergartens we invested in inside our malls for the employees, and this clearly makes the tenants happy and attracts more customers.”
Christian Grossschartner, Development Director, RED
Christian Grossschartner, Development Director, RED: “Unfortunately the issue of sustainability in Romania is very much at the beginning. Until now it was not really much of an issue during the past years. Based on the current market situation this was an initiative for a lot of developers to change their strategy, to change their thinking, to consider the projects and make them much more sustainable than they may have originally planned. Therefore there is a lot of room for us to catch up in Romania. We are mainly focusing on the energy side of sustainability. The social aspect is currently not the major focus for us. The tenants look very much to the service charge, and whether or not you can reduce these charges with increased sustainability. If you go now and try to arrange financing for a new project there are a lot of questions from the banks about what types of sustainable features are involved.”
Derek Barker, Managing Director, Haskoll
Derek Barker, Managing Director, Haskoll: “The split between the social side, the economic side, and the energy side of sustainability is really interesting. Good shopping centers have always been fantastic with the social side; it makes good business sense to respond well to the surrounding communities with various programs. We were very quick to get ISO 140001 in our office. You have a number of companies who are leading the way while others have been reluctant because they think it will only cost money. Now we’re seeing that legislation is bringing companies in who otherwise wouldn’t be self motivated. We completed a big refurbishment of a shopping center last year and switched the underground heater off, and the shops produce so much heat from their lights that no one noticed, it’s never been switched on again. We’ve also been doing rain water harvesting, this is a big issue, and we incorporated this into an existing center and now 75% of the water used in the toilets is from rain water. We live in a throwaway society and part of what we need to do with refurbishment is retaining the best and not just chucking it all way.”
Paul Edwards, Head of Sustainability, Hammerson
Paul Edwards, Head of Sustainability, Hammerson: “Our own sustainable implementation plan exceeds BREEAM, it covers a lot more, like the social side of sustainability; we very much concentrate on that aspect. Recently we’ve moved more towards existing assets because development started to slow down. In the last six months I’ve noticed investors are starting to understand what sustainability is. We focus a lot of attention on putting the financial outcome related to our social and environmental initiatives into our report, linking sustainability to financial outcomes. This allows investors to see that it’s actually good business practice and not just being a ‘greeny’. You reduce energy, you save money; you increase recycling, you save money. On the social side we’re able to show we’ve created a lot of jobs and helped the GDP of the local area. When you get the finance director involved it’s an important step for the future. We’ve found the tenants actually do want it and the investors are starting to wake up to that. The biggest barrier is knowledge and education of the full industry, not just at certain levels. One of the things that we’re missing is to have a set benchmark that everyone can understand for existing, actual use centers. By having a benchmark that people can rely on you get companies saying we want to be the best so we’re going to try to achieve the highest benchmark and even go further. And then regulation brings in the other people who are slack. We don’t drive our business on rating systems. We delivered an office building in London and for retaining the entire 27 story structure we got one credit and for putting bike racks in the basement we got one credit.”
Nadia Boschi, Sustainability Manager, Bovis Lend Lease
Nadia Boschi, Sustainability Manager, Bovis Lend Lease: “We have been working on sustainability for a number of years. And now we are about to engage our clients. There has been a lot of misunderstanding about what we mean by sustainability. The environmental component has always been the driver. But how far can we go to make it profitable? How can we engage the clients to take the extra step when there is not yet a clear financial component in place and there is not yet a well defined short term payback in the investment? That is one of the critical things that could change. Going beyond simple compliance is extremely helpful. The leaders in retail sustainability have made a tangible market transformation within Europe. When we started with the first roundtable in 2007 nobody even recognized BREEAM. Better access to daylight and a better ability to control your own space leads to happier, more productive people. And this is a key indicator for recruitment: better space attracts more interest and better people. But better ratings don’t always mean better space. There are areas where high ratings have been achieved yet the building in use has bad air.”
Jean-Michel Despaux, Head of Property Development, Wilhelm & Co
Jean-Michel Despaux, Head of Property Development, Wilhelm & Co: “We received the BREEAM very good rating because we focused on this; for many years we’ve been facing this problem of sustainability, but in the last 4-5 years it has become more important for our company. In Belgium we’ve renewed our stock and we now have very low energy buildings. It’s not only for projects, but also for our own business. The BREEAM certification takes into account all the aspects in one country, and it gives you a benchmark, at least for that country. And we feel that investors are beginning to ask, ‘what is your BREEAM certification?’ This is very new for us. Customers don’t show a real interest in the green label; perhaps a few but it’s not a majority. People are interested in the brands and whether or not the shopping center is a comfortable good center, but to be frank I don’t think they are interested in your sustainability label.”
Jasper Klapwijk, General Manager Strategy & Marketing, ING Real Estate Development
Jasper Klapwijk, General Manager Strategy & Marketing, ING Real Estate Development: “We find inner city redevelopment is what we’re good at, especially ones with a retail element. We follow the rating systems because you do need a benchmark. So the rating standards define our focus to some extent, yet there are a lot of other elements we’ll also focus on. Safety, for example in the parking garage, is also an element of sustainability, and this is something we really focus on, but this doesn’t show up in your rating. Sustainability for us is the attractiveness of the public space. People want to go there and stay there. It’s amazing how many young potential employees want to work for you just because you focus on sustainability, they find it so important. In the past sustainability was seen by the CFO as more of a green washing; it cost 6% more and it was all about how are we going to get the returns. Now we have much less of that discussion, and more about what is the payback time and the return. With the investors and to some extent the tenants we still have a lot of ground to cover still. The question in the end is how are the consumers going to vote? If some center has a great rating but for other reasons it has a bad atmosphere, the consumers won’t like going there. You need to make sure you have a lot of solid stuff in place because if the public opinion turns on you, you really have a problem.”
|Other interesting sound-bites:|
- A lot of emphasis falls back on center management; there can be huge energy savings made by changing light bulbs and doing very simple things.
- It’s unfair to compare a new building’s rating to an older one. There is a need to have two separate ratings for existing and for new buildings.
- The word sustainability itself gets overused.
- It is important to keep it easy, clear and simple. This will help us all to go further with this subject.
- Simply following the law and being compliant is not a differentiating factor.
- 70% of our emissions come from customers coming by car and we can’t do anything about that. We can’t just say don’t come by car.
- In Russia IKEA owns the biggest private bus company in Moscow to bring people to their store.
Top-100, Office Development, Retail Development
Real Estate Development