SUSTAINABLE RETAIL BEGINS EDGING BACK UP
After a dip in 2014, green build- ing is edging up marginally in retail this year, A.R.E.’s annual Green
Building Survey reveals. Design firms
reported 5% more retail projects incorporating sustainable strategies this year
(62%) than in 2014, while retailers themselves reported just 1% more to 78%.
Perhaps more telling is the sharp rise in
requests for green products that suppliers
reported this year. While 76% of suppliers
had seen such requests in 2014 (down from
a high of 82% in 2013), a whopping 93%
were asked for green building products this
year. The rise may indicate an interest in
market availability of materials that reduce
the environmental impact even in projects
not pegged as green building.
Requests were up for all types of green
product indicators, from specific traits such
as recycled content, to comprehensive supplier information in the form of a corporate
sustainability report (see chart). And specifiers may be getting their ducks in a row for
anticipated future LEED v4 projects, with
their new life-cycle assessment requirements, as 32% of suppliers were asked for
LCA data on their products.
When retailers do opt to build sustainably, they’re slightly more motivated by
consumer demand than they were in the
past; 61% of retailers today “agree or somewhat agree” that consumer demand motivates their green building vs. 52% in 2014.
As shopper interest in brand values has
climbed, consumer demand is nearly as
important a motivator as the opportunity
to save on operating costs. Once used as the
argument to convince retailers to invest in
building sustainably, long-term operational
savings potential has dropped considerably
as a motivator—from 83% in 2014 to 66%
this year. “Doing the right thing” is less
motivating this year than in 2014 as well,
The higher interest in showing consum-
ers their green side is reflected in retailers’
marketing efforts. While only half actively
promoted their sustainability in 2014, 70%
are doing so today.
A plaque on the wall may be an easy way
to show shoppers those efforts to do the
right thing, yet few retail projects are pursuing them right now. Retailers indicated
that they’ll go so far as to seek building certification for only 9% of projects this year.
Yet 78% of them have benchmarked their
green building projects through a formal
rating system at some point in time—a significant leap from the 48% who had done
so by 2012.
When they have formally vetted green
projects, retailers have turned to a wide
range of building certification systems.
LEED still tops the list, with 74% of retail
respondents having used it. But more than
half (52%) have used Energy Star for buildings. Other systems retailers have used
include Green Globes (13%), SAK Rating
(4%), and SB Tool (4%).
SEEDS OF CHANGE
To help retailers meet the demand for green
stores, design and supply firms are grow-
ing their staff expertise, product offerings,
and internal company efforts. Fully 80%
of design firms and 36% of supply firms
responding have LEED APs on their payroll,
and half of the design firms also have LEED
Green Associates on staff while 20% have
Green Globes Professionals.
A fifth of design firms have committed to
the American Institute of Architects’ 2030
Challenge to commit to carbon neutrality for new building and major renovation
projects by the year 2030. Among suppliers,
7% have committed to the more recent corresponding challenge for building products
manufacturers to cut their carbon footprint in half by 2030.
Many A.R.E. members continually seek
eco-friendly alternative materials for their
products, and many review their manufacturing processes regularly to find production methods that minimize adverse
impacts. A few have gone so far as to have
their processes certified by third parties.
Two members mentioned take-back programs they’ve established to help customers recycle their products.
A sampling of A.R.E. members’ sustainable offerings is featured on page 37.
And a number of members have shared
their sustainable journey at http://bit.ly/
Products with sustainable
attributes such as renewable
materials, recycled content,
Info on manufacturing
processes such as water
consumption, type of energy
used, scrap/off-fall, etc.
sustainability report or
social responsibility report
REQUESTS OF SUPPLIERS
SHOWN: Percentages of suppliers reporting requests for each type of green product indicator.
2012 2013 2014 2015 0
A Shade Greener