Shopping centres have been under The Fifth Estate’s spotlight lately for their reluctance to be part of the mandatory energy performance disclosure program that is being expanded to most other property sectors. Vicinity Centres, Australia’s second largest retail property company, is different.

Vicinity Centres first announced millions of dollars in rooftop solar investment. Now it’s aiming for net zero carbon by 2030 across its 34 wholly-owned shopping centres.

The company plans to reach this target through its solar program – a $73 million program in total – along with a raft of energy efficiency measures.

The net zero target will be the centrepiece of the company’s broader sustainability commitments, a plan that also involves shaping better communities, creating sustainable destinations of the future, and building climate resilience across the portfolio

The group is also implementing a Sustainable Procurement Program throughout the business and responding to the new Modern Slavery legislation.

Its energy efficiency program started in 2016 and has so far helped cut its carbon emissions by 14 per cent.

It’s set annual targets, tracked energy performance and developed site-specific energy action plans.

It also conducted a portfolio-wide energy review in 2018 to identify energy efficiency opportunities, including major capital upgrades and retrofits. The review also helped spot opportunities for behavioural change and education on efficiency.

Capital investment include $3.5 million worth of LED upgrades, replacements and upgrades to airconditioning technology and systems (including retrofitting systems to implement new control strategies, where possible) and trials of new technologies to see how they can deliver greater efficiency.

The company also has an appetite for experimentation in the renewables space, such as the trial of ClearVue PV solar power-generating clear glass at the Warwick Grove shopping centre in Western Australia.

Retailers – which typically miss out on benefits of energy efficiency – are also part of the company’s energy efficiency ambitions. This includes working with some key retailers to provide information about base buildings to help them achieve their own Green Star Interiors ratings for fit-outs.

Vicinity chief strategy officer Justin Mills said that although the net zero carbon target focuses on our wholly-owned centres the company is “working closely with our co-owners and retailers to drive efficiencies and deliver shared value for our communities and the environment.”

The group has a direct portfolio with interests in 62 shopping centres and manages 33 assets on behalf of strategic partners, 29 of which are co-owned by the group.

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