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A retailer's buildings and grounds have many environmental impacts on the local community. Retailers with comprehensive environmental goals and practices will consider how they can best integrate their sites into the surrounding communities and ecosystems.
The 'green sites' best practice category in the Greening Retail database pertains to how retailers choose the locations for their stores and headquarters, how they develop the site, and how they maintain the grounds surrounding their buildings. This section is comparable to the 'Sustainable Sites' section of the US Green Building Council's LEED for Retail New Construction, which is a useful resource for retailers.
Breadth of Practice
To be proactive, a retailer will incorporate sustainability considerations into policies regarding the siting of stores. For example, building on remediated 'brownfield' sites is often more desirable than developing 'greenfields' because the practice avoids using land that can be maintained as farmland or greenspace.
Another consideration when choosing a site is how well it is situated in relation to public transit, which is generally a more energy-efficient transportation mode for customers and staff.
A retailer might also consider how their store fits in with the various land uses in a community. Urban design that supports mixed use areas (along with other factors, including good connections and high intensity of different uses) can have multiple benefits.
One of LEED's criteria requires that builders "Design the building with the minimal footprint to minimize site disruption of those environmentally sensitive areas identified above." There is a growing trend, especially in urban areas to reduce the amount of land that buildings require.
As well, it is important for retailers to consider water conservation and stormwater management when they design and maintain their sites. (This topic is presented in this section of the database, and there are similar case studies in the 'Water' section of the database.)
Several best practices are associated with retail parking lots. Two of these best practices are included here: planting trees in parking lots and using permeable pavement.
Urban areas often have elevated temperatures because of the buildings and other surfaces found there: this is called the heat island effect. The database contains one measure that retailers are using to help offset this effect.
Besides avoiding building on ecologically significant or sensitive land, retailers can promote the health of local systems on their properties with other measures, some of which are described below. Even if they are not all listed in our database, most retailers are implementing a variety of best practices on their properties. Two of the case studies in this section describe the multiple landscaping practices of retailers.
Institute Site Selection Policies
To be proactive, a retailer will incorporate sustainability considerations into their policies regarding the siting of stores. For example, Target includes a section on "Sustainable Real Estate Development & Design" in its 2004 Social Responsibility Report. The section contains information on the company's environmental due diligence procedures when acquiring property, its practice of siting retail stores in metropolitan areas on environmentally restored properties known as brownfields (discussed below), and its efforts to consult communities and local planning commissions in the early stages of its projects..
Clean up Brownfields
Building on remediated 'brownfield' sites is often more desirable than developing 'greenfields' because it avoids using land that can be maintained as farmland or greenspace. With Target's entry into densely-populated major metropolitan areas, their expansion strategy includes redeveloping environmentally impaired properties, referred to as "brownfield" sites. Properties may range from minor spill sites to former Superfund sites. More than one-third of Target's new store openings in 2006 were either brownfield redevelopment sites or reflected the redevelopment and re-use of existing buildings.
Likewise, over the past year, more than 9 in 10 new Tesco stores were built on brownfield sites; for example, they opened an Extra on a former gasworks site in Coventry, England. The Tesco store was the main catalyst for a major mixed use development including a sports facility that will provide a new stadium for Coventry City FC and create over 1,000 jobs.
Make Buildings Accessible by Alternative Transit
One consideration when choosing a site is how well it is situated in relation to public transit, which is generally a more energy-efficient transportation mode for customers and staff. (This aspect of site selection is also addressed in the "Transportation" Section of the Database.) For example, lululemon retail stores are sited to be accessible by public transit, so employees and customers have several transportation options. Employees can also cycle or walk to work as alternatives.
Contribute to Mixed-Use Communities
Retailers may consider how their stores fit in with the different land uses in a community. Urban design that supports mixed use areas (along with other factors including good connections and high intensity of different uses) can:
Walgreens was induced to consider mixed use when planning one of their stores. When residents in the Capital Hill neighborhood pushed back against a proposed one-story Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) store with a surface parking lot, the retail giant went back to the drawing board. Today, the 12,000-square-foot drugstore sits below a multi-story affordable housing project and above underground parking. The public-private partnership between Walgreens and Capital Hill Housing includes 44 subsidized housing units, half of which are set aside for families making up to 30 percent of the county's median income. Likewise, Tesco's Coventry store was the main catalyst for a major mixed use development including a sports facility that will provide a new stadium for Coventry City FC and create over 1,000 jobs.
Reduce Building Footprint
One LEED criterion requires that builders "Design the building with the minimal footprint to minimize site disruption of those environmentally sensitive areas identified above." There is a growing trend, especially in urban areas, to reduce the amount of land that buildings require. For instance, Kohl's built a two-storey building in order to fit onto a smaller site in Apex, California. "I think the benefit to the town is that the building is a little more interesting and attractive than a regular Kohl's. And it also freed up more open space around it, so it's not just concrete." said Apex Planning Director Dianne Khin.
Home Depot has multilevel locations in Manhattan, Chicago and Vancouver. Target and Costco have them, too. Target and Home Depot teamed up in Charlotte for a two-story project featuring both stores. "If we have to look at some different layouts in order to fit in the space, then we definitely do that," said Home Depot spokeswoman Sarah Molinari. "It's just a matter of making it work somewhere where we find a need."
Until recently, all Target stores were the typical single-story boxes with surface parking. But in the last half-decade, Target has built or acquired 35 multilevel stores with structured parking and another 8 stores with parking underneath. In all, about 3 percent of Target's 1,350 stores nationwide have unusual urban formats that Target calls "unique." The typical Target is on a 10-12 acre site. The single-story stores above parking typically use eight-acre sites, while the two-level Targets can fit on sites as small as three acres, Jordan-Denny says.
Practise Water Conservation and Stormwater Management
Water conservation and stormwater management are important considerations for retailers in designing and maintaining their sites. (This topic is presented in this section of the database, and there are similar case studies in the 'Water' section of the database.)
Wal-Mart has built a covered, lower-level parking lot. It is designed to keep salt, oil and other contaminants from flowing into a nearby marsh and the Yahara River. The runoff is caught by drains and sent directly to the municipal treatment plant. The underground spaces make better use of land, while keeping shoppers warm.
Costco participated in a study by King County's Department of Natural Resources and Parks in Washington. This study, funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, demonstrates that development choices that protect the environment are compatible with business operations. Costco identified a number of LID strategies that focus on their parking lot design to include a mix of pervious and impervious paving materials, and various types of distributed bioretention systems. In North Carolina, Costco experimented with some test areas of pervious concrete paving. Although long-term lifecycle costs have not been fully analyzed, there may be cost advantages over the life of the LID practice.
H-E-B uses several strategies for landscaping and site design that help to conserve water, filter run-off water and promote native plant life.
At the Century Park Retail Complex, the 33,000-square-foot landscape was outfitted with plants representing 51 species to the region, with the end result being a drastically reduced water bill for irrigation of $10.75 per month ? the minimum amount imposed on commercial sites in the area.
Wal-Mart is experimenting with creative landscaping techniques that will help conserve water. Techniques such as planting native grasses and climate appropriate plants that are watered by a drip irrigation system will help with this goal. For larger open areas, Wal-Mart has created wildflower meadows. Wildflowers require no irrigation after establishment. This meadow saves water, reduces air-borne emissions from mowers and reduces or eliminates the need to use chemical fertilizers
Several best practices are associated with retail parking lots. Two of these best practices are included here. (There are also case studies pertaining to parking lots in the 'water' section of the Greening Retail Best Practices database.)
Protect or Restore Habitat
Besides avoiding building on ecologically significant or sensitive land, retailers can promote the health of local systems on their properties with other measures. For example, H-E-B uses several strategies for landscaping and site design that help to promote native plant life. Site layout is executed with reasonable consideration of preservation of existing vegetation and large viable trees. An arborist is often used to determine the condition and/or preservation of large specimen trees
Target performs environmental due diligence on all properties sited for new stores, whether leased or purchased. Using the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) E-1527 protocol as a template, Target has developed its own Phase I protocol that expands the basic requirements to include a review of local regulations / ordinances and natural resources such as wetlands, critical habitat and endangered species.
Reduce Heat Island Effect
Urban areas often have elevated temperatures because of the buildings and other surfaces found there: this is called the heat island effect. Seibu Department Stores has been making progress in greening their stores by hanging plants on their building. By creating a green wall instead of a concrete wall, they are helping to reduce the heat created by concrete structures in the city and thereby decreasing "Heat Island Syndrome" and air pollution.
Implement Multiple Landscaping Practices
Retailers are implementing a variety of best practices on their properties. For example, JCPenney's Home Office Headquarters building and garage cover only 20 per cent of the 122-acre site. The remaining 98-acre campus is maintained with organic and environmentally-sound materials, including predatory insects and slow-release organic fertilizers. Yard waste is composted on site, including expired interior plants and seasonal flowers, and the compost is applied to turf areas and ornamental beds. A plan is in place for water conservation, and stormwater run-off drains into a six-acre lake, which is tested annually for pesticides, PCB, and herbicides. The company also has a hazardous office waste collection and federally approved disposal-waste stream program
Auchan and its real-estate subsidiary, Immochan, are working on the integration of shopping centres in their environment. Whether for new construction, enlargement or renovation, architectural and landscape specifications are defined to ensure genuine harmony between buildings and car parks with the surrounding landscape and local susceptibilities.
"Outside the Box: Guidelines for Retail Store Siting" Julie Tanner, Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc., and Kimberly Gladman, Domini Social Investments LLC http://www.cbisonline.com/file/StoreSitingGuidelines.pdf
This synopsis was compiled from case studies in the Greening Retail Best Practice Database. Sources for the information in the case studies are cited in the database.
This database contains links to case studies of environmental best practice from retailers around the world. You can search this database by the name of the company only, or you can find case studies that match one or several specific criteria, such as the type of retailer, the type of best practice, the company's country of origin, and/or project return on investment.
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Please note that we cannot include all the practices of every retailer; therefore, the non-inclusion of a company, or of a certain area of practice for a company, does not mean that they do not presently have progressive environmental initiatives in these areas.
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