It would be easy to cave in the face of a downturn and push green sensibilities aside. But for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers, one of the nation’s greenest shopping center developers, abandoning a core value has never been an option.
Chain Store Age talked with Mark Peternell, Regency’s VP sustainability, about the status of the company’s GreenGenuity program, and what comes next in terms of the continued greening of its shopping center portfolio, which has to date LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified three shopping centers, with another three under construction and pre-certified.
What is the status of your GreenGenuity program?
We remain committed to our original objective of LEED-certifying 20% of new developments in 2008, 40% in 2009 and 60% in 2010. The only major change is that, typical of what is happening in the industry, we aren’t developing nearly as many projects today.
How has the slowed development impacted the program?
We have more of an emphasis on the operating portfolio and what opportunities make the most sense within that group of centers. The big difference is that the LEED benchmark isn’t a good fit for existing properties and redevelopments. However, from an energy-savings perspective, there is a lot of opportunity with existing centers.
What type of projects is LEED best suited for?
We believe that LEED is the right certification product for Regency Centers for ground-up development. That’s because with ground-up projects, you are starting from a clean slate and LEED can be part of the design goals from the outset. But with an existing property or a redevelopment, it is challenging to make LEED work.
How do you think the industry as a whole is progressing with regard to sustainability?
We’re making strides, but the recession may have slowed the progress. There are unquestionably signs of progression, but the rate of progress has been slowed just like development in general has been slowed by the recession.