How Vicinity Centres is leading sustainable retail

"Portfolio programs, policies and practices require a lot of effort to implement and can be a more gradual process, but the rewards are worth it."

MARC GILLESPIE

Sustainability Manager, Vicinity Centres

In June 2016, Vicinity Centres embarked on a journey to improving building performance and efficiency across all of its retail assets through achieving a Green Star – Performance certification.

It was awarded a 2 Star Green Star – Performance rating, demonstrating practice within our local market.

Fast forward two years and Vicinity Centres Sustainability Manager, Marc Gillespie, shares how the company has ramped up its commitment to achieve 4 Star Green Star – Performance across its assets, making it the largest property portfolio in Australia to achieve such a feat.

“We used the Green Star – Performance tool to measure sustainability of our retail property portfolio.

“Vicinity operates around 82 shopping centres throughout Australia, from flagship assets like Chadstone, our premium CBD assets such as Emporium, Queens Plaza and QVB, the DFO brands as well as smaller regional centres such as Altona Gate and Mt Ommaney Centre,” says Marc.

He says that using Green Star as a framework for improving its building performance has made working with the diversity of its assets easier.

“Opting to undertake portfolio volume certification is a cost-effective way to obtain building certifications across a large portfolio of assets.

“It also rewards a strategic and portfolio wide approach to sustainability programs, as initiatives need to be applied to the whole portfolio to be rewarded, rather than driving the performance of a single asset.

“This gives a greater scale to our sustainability programs and their impacts.

“The tool is flexible and allows Vicinity to focus on what makes sense and drives value for retail assets and our communities. It also allows our diverse portfolio of retail assets to be rated using the same benchmark, as there are no size limits or exceptions.”

Marc also says that the flexibility of the Green Star – Performance rating tool has allowed for the team to overcome challenges in achieving certification.

“Portfolio programs, policies and practices require a lot of effort to implement and can be a more gradual process, but the rewards are worth it.

“The capabilities and limitations within different states and regions - for example, waste recycling facilities - can make it difficult to implement a portfolio wide approach, but the flexibility in the tool allows you to focus on aspects that make sense for that location.”

Vicinity Centre’s Green Star – Performance rating is due for recertification in June 2019 and is well on track to achieving a 4 Star Green Star certification.

Looking to the long term, the company has developed an Integrated Energy Strategy (IES), announcing the largest investment in onsite solar PV in Australia.

This includes a $75 million cash injection across 22 of its retail assets over two stages, installing a total capacity of around 31.8MW – that’s enough electricity to power 8,346 houses for one year.

Marc believes it’s a vital step for Vicinity and the industry at large, as we look to tackle net zero carbon buildings.

“The importance the Green Star performance framework puts on the energy category through the amount of available points provides an incentive to focus on this area, but also reflects the fact that carbon reduction is a material issue for the property industry, including Vicinity.”