Inability to overcome the unique requirements of long operating hours, effective transport and tenant management has held back retail sites from improving their sustainability, according to industry insiders.
Addressing those considerations will be at the top of judges’ minds when deciding the winning design for a sustainable shopping centre in Burwood, according to the developer partnering the competition.
Frasers Property’s Peri Macdonald said he would be approach the competition with the view to selecting the design with the greatest commercial viability, while still aiming to achieve certification as a regenerative building.
“We’re looking for the commercial viability of the submission and commercial aspects of the submissions because ultimately if we’re going to build the winning components of the design they still need to be viable from a commercial aspect,” Mr MacDonald said.
Peri MacDonald, General Manager Retail at Frasers Property Australia has been announced as a judge for The Brickworks Living Building Challenge. Photo: Supplied
“I think as an industry we need to embrace sustainability and that is happening absolutely, it’s fair to say in the residential and commercial sectors it’s been embraced more than retail and it’s also been embraced in the industrial sector as well.
“Retail has been one of those areas where sustainability has probably lacked because of the challenges that a retail operator faces. That’s what the design competition is about, trying to achieve certification.”
Mr MacDonald is one of the judges for The Brickworks Living Building Challenge, based around modelling the world’s most sustainable shopping centre for the Frasers’ Brickworks development site in Burwood.
The winning design will need to overcome numerous challenges as it caters to consumer demands, he said.
Frasers Property shopping centre at The Ponds – Australia’s first and only six-star Green Star Design-rated retail hub. Photo: Supplied
The sustainable buildings research centre at the University of Wollongong, which was designed and built based on the principles of the Living Building Challenge. Photo: Supplied
“We’re absolutely committed to running the design competition and incorporating what we can into the final development,” Mr MacDonald said.
“We’d love to be able to achieve full living building certification, to have a regenerative shopping centre; the reality is that’s going to be a real challenge, particularly when you take into account the key aspects of a shopping centre that does produce a lot of waste and use a lot of energy and require a lot of car parking in traditional form.
“It’ll be fantastic to see what the submissions come up with in terms of addressing those challenges. If we can achieve a living buildings certification that would be fantastic.”
The competition forms part of Frasers’ broader aim to continue expanding its environmentally friendly credentials.
“We’re constantly looking at what other developers are doing, what our own design team are doing – we’re the first retail owner to achieve a six-star design certification for a shopping centre in Australia. We’re looking to build on that,” Mr MacDonald said.
Addressing the commercial viability of environmental measures is an issue for Telstra’s head of property division, John Romano, who manages around 20,000 Telstra properties and will join Mr MacDonald on the judging panel.
Some measures, such as the replacement of older style air-conditioning systems with a new fan system in the company’s mobile hubs, make absolute sense from the beginning, Mr Romano said.
“We had an opportunity to invest in some fan technology, we invested that all into our mobile hubs, we had a big program where we went across the country… straight away it reduced the energy consumption of a mobile hub by something like 30 per cent,” he said.
John Romano, Telstra’s property division head, has also been appointed to the panel. Photo: Supplied
Other measures are more difficult to justify, despite technology gradually getting cheaper.
“The technology is developing, there are little things that you can do, but as you move into the environment now of generating our own energy or managing our own water… it’s more expensive,” Mr Romano said.
To determine his vote, he will focus on how technology and software are used in the designs submitted.
“I’ll be looking at how they use cooling and heating technologies, energy generation and also software technologies that enable us to manage the building in a way that’s quite sustainable,” he said.
The design submissions for The Brickworks competition closed last week, with the winner to be announced in June.
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