Magazines Archives - 2008 November
Developers leading green-mall movement in Singapore
In Singapore, where malls are regularly built and refurbished, retail centres can easily latch on to the newest trends — not least green ideas. Jolene Klassen discusses how developers of two soon-to-open malls incorporate eco-friendly initiatives into their buildings, generating consumer interest in them.
Green Stores World-renowned US investor, businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffet has once said: “Someone’s sitting in a shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” The same can be said of the “clean and green” image that Singapore now enjoys. In the past four decades, the Singapore government enforced regulations and guidelines on environmental conservation as it set about planting trees and shrubs along roads and highways throughout the island.
At the turn of the millennium, to further encourage such green projects and the conservation of resources, the government had released a programme dubbed the Singapore Green Plan 2012 (SGP 2012), which monitors the progress of the nation in creating a more eco-friendly community.
Planting trees and conserving resources aside, the “business of going green” in the retail industry is one area that has garnered significant attention in the past few years, as increasing concerns over climate changes and global warming overtake the world. As consumers embrace eco-friendly practices, retailers, too, have started incorporating such practices into their business fundamentals, resulting in the development of Singapore’s first eco-malls.
“In the retail sense, the [green] definition takes a broader view in the areas of retail design, mall management and corporate social responsibility,” Lim says, adding that “green retail covers a broad range of issues such as environmental and ecological protection and the management of natural resources by means of recycling and re-using renewable resources, energy efficiency, tenancy management as well as achieving healthy financial growth”.
Appointed by Singapore-listed private-property firm City Development Limited (CDL) to develop the 700,000sqf City Square Mall, Lend Lease Retail Pte Ltd, the local arm of Australian- based property and investment company Lend Lease Corporation Limited, is also overseeing construction of another green project — [email protected]
Last year, both projects were awarded the BCA (Building and Construction Authority) Green Mark Platinum Award. (The BCA Green Mark Award, under the BCA Green Mark Scheme launched in 2005, is given to building projects that promote energy and water conservation, along with environmentally sustainableand innovative building practices and features.
The Platinum Award is the highest accolade in the industry.) Michael Kenderes, Lend Lease Retail’s development director for the 294,000sqf [email protected], situated in the heart of Orchard Road above the Somerset MRT station, adds that the group’s commitment to sustainable development is a “non-negotiable corporate philosophy” that every employee, contractor or retailer is required to commit to.
While recognising that there would be no significant progress unless the industry sees the benefits of subscribing to such a philosophy, Kenderes adds: “The momentum will build up among retailers, and results will show that sustainable practices equal good business, with a long-term financial gain.”
Tenants for its upcoming retail establishment will sign “green leases” that provide retailers with guidelines to fit out their stores, along with information on various awareness activities aimed to help retailers become green and sustainable, reducing their carbon footprint in the process.
Naturally, there will be the issue of implemention cost, labelled by Lim as a misconception and deterrent to developers which he seeks to dispel. “In spite of a modest upfront premium (about 4%-5% of total construction costs), developers are more willing to go green today as there is increasing evidence that green buildings command higher rentals and asset values, not to mention [greater] occupant productivity and comfort level,” he affirms. In tandem with adopting green practices, Lim advises: “One needs to set at the beginning of the project an initial goal or benchmark to achieve. CDL was very objective in setting a benchmark, which it worked towards at the onset of the [City Square Mall] project.
“Sufficient green measures have been taken to achieve the BCA Green Mark Platinum award and the necessary financial goals [for the mall].” Retailers step up green movement “Misconceptions about going green exist,” confirms Barry Chua, a spokesperson from Home-Fix DIY Pte Ltd.
“One classic example is that green products are more costly. While it is true that an energy-efficient bulb costs more than an incandescent one, for instance, studies have shown that the total cost for lighting is less as a result of lower energy use.
“Depending on the level of usage and tariffs, the extra cost will be more than paid for in one to two years, with the added bonus of a much longer lifespan.”
Fortunately, consumers are becoming more concerned about the impact of commercial activity on the environment and prefer to shop at stores that promote green practices, observes Gerry Lee, deputy managing director and chairman of the green committee at leading local retailer NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd, one of the anchor tenants at City Square Mall, which is slated to open at end-2009.
“We will have a host of green features in our pilot eco-friendly supermarket at City Square Mall such as dedicated checkout counters for shoppers with re-usable bags, energy-efficient LED lighting in chillers and freezers, motion-sensor lighting in the back office and store room, an organic section According to Felix Lim, principal architect at Lend Lease Retail Pte Ltd, the word ‘green’, which carries diverse implications, cannot be mentioned without sustainability and eco-friendliness in the same breath. His company oversees the planning, retail design and leasing for City Square Mall, one of the republic’s first eco-developments now under construction.
“Conventionally, green refers to mitigating adverse impact on the environment, while the word ‘sustainable’ is widely associated with financial performance, social responsibility and ecological protection or management — the three [terms] that are often used interchangeably today.
"With environmentally-friendly products and recycling bins,” states Lee, who believes that customers will appreciate the supermarket’s green features. Meanwhile, Home-Fix is also raising awareness and retailing more ecofriendly products. “We are ... embarking on an education outreach to create a greater awareness of environment sustainability through sharing ideas and tips on reducing, re-using and recycling with the products that we offer to our customers.”
The DIY retailer is also working with architects and contractors to achieve the BCA Green Mark accreditation for the building that houses its headquarters. “[These are] baby steps on a long journey that requires mindset change, sustained effort and long-term investments. A lot is being done but a lot more can, and must still, be done as we work towards a more sustainable living environment for all,” Home-Fix’s Chua reiterates.
Although the payouts are not immediately seen, there is no denying the longterm benefits of creating and developing eco-friendliness in the retail industry. Lim of Lend Lease Retail reveals that while the premium for implementing green features in City Square Mall, which has also integrated a 47,000sqf Urban Park, comes to about 5% of the total construction cost, this translates to roughly S$2 million (US$1.34 million) in energy savings per annum”.
“Other green benefits resulting from energy efficiency include a total electricity saving of around 11.4 million kWh/ year, which is equivalent to the total electricity consumption by 2,380 units of four-room HDB flats.
“[At the same time], the reduction of 5,720 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year equals 25,750 trees that would have been required to absorb that amount of emission,” Lim explains.
NTUC Fairprice’s Lee reveals that since the supermarket chain’s launch of the green initiative, BYOBD (Bring Your Own Bag Day), last year, the group has “saved about 30 million plastic bags”.
As promoting green retailing has to be an ongoing effort, Chua urges commitment from everyone and not just the “radical few”. “In the final analysis, an investment decision on going green is calculated not simply on what we can gain from doing so, but what we stand to lose if we do not act decisively.
“Considering that what is at stake is our Earth, which is home to all of us, we really cannot afford to be irresolute and vacillate,” he stresses.
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