21 January 2014 — In a first for the Green Building Council of Australia, the organisation has entered into a formal partnership with retail label Kathmandu, helping to develop a sustainable design framework for the brand’s retail tenancies.
The partnership marks a move away from a purely building-by-building approach for the GBCA, and signals that the organisation may be looking to connect with individual companies and leverage its green building knowledge to inform sustainability strategies.
The GBCA has previously worked with Coles to develop a custom rating tool, however this is the first large retailer to make a commitment to work in partnership with the GBCA.
“This new partnership signals a new era for Australia’s retail industry,” said GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew. “The retail sector is a long way behind the commercial sector when it comes to sustainability. Commercial businesses that have taken sustainability seriously are reaping the rewards. The same will be true for those in the retail space.”
The updated Green Star — Interiors rating tool pilot will likely be used to rate retail offerings. The new tool, unlike its predecessor, which focused solely on offices, has been expanded to cover a range of sectors – such as education, hospitality and retail. The purpose of the tool is to create sustainable fitouts, with credits including management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation.
Kathmandu’s sustainability and community manager Tim Loftus said the company recognised that minimising its environmental footprint and contributing to human human health and community was integral to business success.
“We aim to incorporate sustainable designs into new stores by working with the GBCA and are looking for ways to improve our energy efficiency in established stores, offices and distribution centres,” Mr Loftus said.
“We believe that sustainability is a strategic business decision, and one that will open up new opportunities and reinvent the bricks-and-mortar retail experience.”
Ms Madew said that retailers should consider embracing what would become “the new normal”.
“Kathmandu is seizing the first-mover advantage by recognising that sustainability is an opportunity to cement customer relationships and attract and retain staff that demand more pleasant, productive and healthy workplaces,” Ms Madew said.