By Adam Siegel, VP sustainability, RILA
On June 9 this year, 13 leading retailers and shopping center developers met at USGBC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss how greater collaboration between the two groups might result in more sustainable shopping experiences for consumers.
Sponsored by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)’s Retail Sustainability Initiative and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), this landmark gathering was part of a larger effort to actively identify key sustainability opportunities and challenges that might benefit from closer interaction between landlords and tenants in the retail environment, with an eye towards accelerating sustainability within the retail industry.
In advance of the meeting, RILA, ICSC and our consultant, Paladino and Co., undertook independent discovery processes to identify the key strategies retailers and landlords had implemented or planned to implement, and to better understand the limiters and drivers influencing speed of adoption.
What did we learn? Most importantly, landlords and retailers both want to accelerate their building sustainability efforts. And both recognize that more collaboration is the path towards creating not only more sustainable retail buildings, but more sustainable business models in general.
The pre-discovery process
Prior to the June 9 event, RILA and Paladino and Co. held conversations with more than 50 retailers and landlords. Through that process, we determined that adoption of green building design and operations strategies in the retail industry is following a foreseeable path, and is similar to that of other industries facing landlord/tenant issues. In particular, the commercial office market has mostly addressed the landlord/tenant divide, with landlords taking a “total asset management” approach as a value add to the tenant.
In addition to the barriers inherent in collaboration between retailers and landlords, our discovery process also identified the following external and internal challenges to achieving a stronger sustainability performance in retail:
Coming together in D.C.
The discovery activity provided the foundation for our solutions-oriented conversation at the June 9 event. At that meeting, both landlords and retailers agreed that as a starting point, successful examples of collaboration, as well as a larger body of best practice and supporting tools from which to draw from, would be a win-win outcome.
The cross-industry discussion brought to light several key building-lifecycle priorities shared by both landlords and retailers, including:
The group also honed in on three key opportunities for further discussion and supporting tools and knowledge development:
A ‘knowledge base’ that addresses the priorities above could be made widely available to industry in the interest of establishing some commonly agreed-upon best practice as a starting point.
Additionally, the meeting identified materials and toolkits to develop and disseminate:
The dialog we begun on June 9 will continue at both the RILA Retail Sustainability Conference and ICSC’s RetailGreen conference this fall, which will provide ample opportunities to further explore industry needs from the perspective of a broad stakeholder group. Both RILA and ICSC invite members and non-members to participate in this valuable discussion.
Adam Siegel, is VP sustainability, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). Will you join the conversation? Retailers and landlords looking for ways to participate or share resources can contact: Adam Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rudy Milian at rmilian@ICSC.org and Cathy Edens at email@example.com.