BRIEF – 9 July 2010 – The potential to change the sustainability of the energy guzzling retail centre will be the focus of new research to be undertaken by Lend Lease and the University of Newcastle, with the support of the Australian Government’s Australian Research Council.

The work is expected to challenge the traditional notion of shopping centres need to be designed in an enclosed format and to broaden the concept of benefits to social and financial aspects, as well as environmentally sustainability, the research partners said in a media release announcing the project.

It will look at a mix of traditional enclosed and semi-open centres in different temperature zones and will include focus group sessions and surveys of retail professionals and consumers.

Head of sustainability for Lend Lease Australia, Cate Collins said: “Retail centres typically have high levels of energy and water consumption, so we are excited to be working alongside the University of Newcastle to undertake this groundbreaking research program, which will have a significant impact on the sustainability future of Australia’s retail property sector, whilst also being of interest internationally.”

Project chief investigator and Dean of Architecture at the University of Newcastle, Professor Michael Ostwald said that research had already identified a “significant lack of understanding” of shopper attitudes and behaviours in relation to sustainable shopping centres.

“In order to design and build shopping centres that are ecologically sound and user-friendly, we need to have a better appreciation of the needs and aspirations of shoppers, tenants, managers and owners.” Professor Ostwald said.

General Manager, Retail for Bovis Lend Lease Australia, Stuart Mendel said the two-and-a-half year research program would investigate consumer attitudes to sustainability.