The days of grey box retailers are numbered, as new report outlines the case for green retail

A new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) finds that green retail environments can enhance the customer experience and drive greater profits.

Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings on People and Profit, released today, finds that most retailers are currently missing massive opportunities to better understand how the physical retail environment can impact staff, customers and business performance.

“The days of ‘grey box retailers’ are numbered,” says WorldGBC Chief Executive Officer, Terri Wills.

“This report is about empowering retailers to look within their own properties to understand and monetise how better, more sustainable physical environments can drive profit, and in doing so, ultimately strengthen the business case for greener, healthier buildings,” Ms Wills says.

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Officer of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and WorldGBC board member, says retailers that successfully embrace sustainability will have an unassailable market advantage for years to come.

“Sustainability has been business-as-usual in the commercial office market for some time. More than 650 office projects around the country have Green Star ratings, and a quarter of Australia’s CBD office space is Green Star-certified,” Ms Madew says.

“While movement has been slower in the retail sector – with 33 centres achieving Green Star ratings – the industry’s leaders are now seizing the sustainability agenda and this report will undoubtedly spur them on,” Ms Madew says.

Stockland now has 13 Green Star ratings for retail centres under its belt, and Frasers Property Australia gained Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star – Retail Centre v1 gong for The Ponds in 2015. Coles achieved a 4 Star Green Star rating for its Hallam store in south east Melbourne, and Kathmandu opened its first flagship Green Star-registered retail store during 2015.

Emerging evidence, outlined in the WorldGBC’s report, includes:

  • Research by the International Council of Shopping Centres, which suggests that lifestyle centres – connected sets of uncovered stores with pedestrianised walkways that incorporate nature – perform better than conventional malls, with increased numbers of stores visited and higher numbers of repeat visits.
  • American retailer Walmart’s findings that daylit areas of stores deliver higher sales per square metre than those areas artificially lit.
  • Research suggesting that customers are likely to buy more merchandise in stores with natural surroundings; customers rate spaces with greenery as friendlier, say they would stay longer and visit more frequently, and would be willing to pay a higher price for the same product.

“Sustainability isn’t a fad or a fashion. This report should serve as a reminder for any decision-makers in the retail sector who may be wondering whether sustainability makes sense. As the business case continues to build, retailers who embrace the opportunities for healthier, greener buildings will reap the rewards,” Ms Madew concludes.

Download Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings on People and Profit.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) was established in 2002 to develop a sustainable property industry in Australia and drive the adoption of green building practices through market-based solutions.

Media contact

Karen Jamal
Green Building Council of Australia
Phone: 0412 179 135
Email: karen.jamal@gbca.org.au