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Retail Sector Continues March Towards Sustainability

The intersection of sustainability and the retail sector has been a hot topic of late (see our recent post regarding discussion at the ICSC fall conference in New Orleans a few weeks ago, as well as an announcement from Kohl’s that it will seek LEED certification for 80 new stores beginning next year). The topic was similarly popular at Greenbuild, where Scott Wilson, construction vice president of Regency Centers Corp., detailed some of his firm’s green efforts. Regency is a Jacksonville-based REIT that owns, operates, and develops shopping centers throughout the U.S. Wilson spoke at Greenbuild about his efforts directing a task force that evaluated Regency’s sustainable efforts and made a variety of recommendations to the firm’s executive committee, which were approved earlier this year.

Regency plans to retrofit three shopping centers with green features during 2008 and three more in 2009. The firm will design twenty percent of its new construction in 2008 sustainably, and increase that figure by twenty percent during each of the next two years. Wilson also noted LEED’s origins in the commercial office sector, but explained that Regency and other large developers are working with USGBC to develop a certification option for retail centers (perhaps as part of LEED Version 3.0?- we’ll see). Retail’s efforts are particularly important when considered in light of the following statistic- 25,000 new retail buildings are constructed each year, but less than 100 are LEED-certified. As Wilson noted, “[i]f tenants can go into a sustainable center, we have a better asset with more room for rent growth and a competitive advantage.”

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