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Green Retail Development a Hot Topic at ICSC Fall Conference

The International Council of Shopping Centers (“ICSC”) devoted attention to the intersection of sustainability and shopping center development at its 2007 Fall Conference in New Orleans, which wrapped up earlier this week. Specific green retail projects that were discussed included the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, which has reduced its energy costs by C$400,000 since 2004 thanks to the use of advanced lighting technology that allows it to keep interior lights off during more than 95% daylight hours. The first LEED-certified shopping center in the country, Abercorn Common in Savannah, Georgia, earned Silver back in April of 2006 and initially had difficulty attracting tenants. Now, it reports that tenants are enjoying record sales levels- obviously attractive to developers who seek high quality tenants. At Abercorn, green design features include a reflective white roof and other energy-efficient measures that save tenants, including Circuit City, Panera Bread, and McDonald’s, thirty percent over conventional retail space. The complex was developed by Georgia-based Melaver, Inc.

Green retail provides developers with a unique ability to educate consumers about sustainability. As Jeff Grossberg, principal at Chicago-based SkySite Property noted, “[t]he shopping center arena has the opportunity to be the spokesperson for the entire industry. Of any asset class, we’re in touch with the consumer on a regular basis. We can educate.” While the principles for which consumer retail and sustainability stand are obviously quite different, it is important than an industry which is, fundamentally, grounded in consumption begin to slowly shift its emphasis towards conservation.

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