10 Trends Among Sustainable Retail Pioneers
WHILE THE RETAIL ENVIRONMENTS INDUSTRY has a long way to
go toward green building, industry pioneers
are progressing in their sustainable efforts.
Ten trends are suggested by this year’s A.R.E.
Sustainability Award entries.
Integrated Design: Long recognized as integral to outstanding results
in green design, integrated design now has
a toehold in the retail environments industry. In prior years, only one entry each year
has mentioned such an approach—not surprisingly, always the Sustainable Project of
the Year. This year marked a change in the
integration measures reported by entrants,
with at least three disciplines participating
in an eco-charrette in the early stages of half
the projects. Of those projects, almost all
also employed ongoing meetings and interdisciplinary communication.
Photo: David Whittaker, Toronto
Follow-up: Project teams are
beginning to think beyond the grand
opening. Post-occupancy follow-up, almost
nonexistent among entrants in years past, is
planned by half of this year’s project teams.
Some are relying on commissioning agents,
while others are using occupant surveys.
They’re measuring thermal comfort, energy
consumption, and other aspects of building
mechanical systems and optimizing their
performance. Those who reported the timing of their reviews plan for six months out
and/or monthly monitoring.
South St. Burger Co. in Toronto’s Bayview Village took home A.R.E.’s Sustainable Project of the
Year with a LEED Silver standard rating. Notable water savings, purchased renewable energy,
and building material locality all contributed to its sustainability.
panels. Other energy-saving measures this
year included demand-controlled ventilation,
Energy Star ratings on more than 90 percent
of equipment, renewable energy purchase,
sensors and controls, solar panels, and the
now ubiquitous LED lighting.
Energy Reduction: The retail
industry has opportunity for vast
improvement in energy consumption with its
unique challenges to illuminate merchandise
to attract attention, keep products at specific
temperatures, power technology to motivate
purchases, and accommodate occupancy in
most areas for long operating hours. Several
entrants are pushing the envelope with initiatives such as geothermal heating and cooling, a green roof, heat reclamation, a cavity
wall for added insulation, and thermal wall
We’re beginning to see retailers
benchmark against themselves to prompt
a rising bar within their own organizations.
The idea is to build on sustainable efforts
they have already made. The design intent
of several of this year’s projects involved
goals related to prior prototypes—lowering
adverse impact even further or, in one case,
elevating the sustainable commitment to
seek certification for the project. The drive
to move beyond resting on one’s green laurels will propel the industry toward a more
Water Savings: With water often
deemed second only to energy
among green building focuses, it continues to be addressed by green retailers. At
least half of entrants mentioned specific
strategies while two projects achieved significantly higher percentages of water use
reduction than past entrants. Fittingly, those
employing the most water-saving strategies
were stores that consume water in areas
other than restrooms. In addition to efficient
plumbing fixtures, sensors, and aerators,
two standout water-saving measures were
graywater recycling from fixture displays
and an air-cooled ice machine in lieu of a
Daylighting: This continues to be
popular among green retail pioneers,
but more project teams may now be seeing the light. In addition to the daylighting