Can abundant natural light, fresh air and living greenery encourage more customers through a shopping centre’s doors? Frasers Property Australia is determined to prove it does at Burwood Brickworks.
At first glance, allocating more than 2,000 sqm of rooftop space to the harvest and sale of fresh produce doesn’t stack up commercially.
But when you consider the extra revenue opportunities – the educational and tourism tours, the private hire fees for a unique function space and co-location opportunities for restaurants for example – the space drives a profitable return in its own right, says Frasers Property’s development manager Jack Davis.
Davis is leading the ambitious Burwood Brickworks shopping centre project, part of the mixed-use urban village currently transforming a blank canvas just 15 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD.
The 12,700 sqm retail centre will lie at the heart of the 18.5-hectare site, and Frasers Property hopes it will challenge industry and consumer thinking about sustainability.
The most sustainable shopping centre in the world
Frasers Property is seeking Living Building Challenge certification for Burwood Brickworks, which would make it the most sustainable shopping centre in the world.
To achieve this certification, the shopping centre must generate more energy than it consumes, and will do so using a combination of on-site rooftop solar and off-site renewable energy using the latest in battery storage.
Insulated high-quality glazing will reduce energy demand, while a centralised air-conditioning system will service all tenants, increasing performance and reducing waste heat.
The centre’s water system will capture, treat and re-use all rain and waste water, while an embedded energy network will offer tenants best-in-market rates for the renewable electricity and thermal energy generated on-site.
Davis says the Living Building Challenge certification should “generate huge velocity in public interest”, but once the fanfare dies down, will sustainability initiatives encourage regular foot traffic?
“We believe that designing a more comfortable centre, with abundant natural light, fresh air and living greenery will increase the dwell time and frequency of visitation, ensuring our retailers are more productive and our shoppers enjoy a positive experience,” Davis explains.
The urban farm is both a symbol and a centrepiece of this strategy – and has already attracted significant attention.
It’s a “fascinating point of difference”, Davis says, which will encourage people to “drive that extra mile to experience the self-sustaining feel-good features of our development”.
A $14 million investment in sustainability initiatives
According to Frasers Property’s general manager for sustainability, Paolo Bevilacqua, the sustainability initiatives at Burwood Brickworks will cost around $14 million, though the commercial returns will more than justify this investment.
“The sustainable elements of any project must be treated like every other cost,” he says.
“All our projects have a return on capital target and the sustainability initiatives must satisfy these metrics as a matter of course. Designing and delivering an environmentally and socially sustainable development must be considered business as usual,” Bevilacqua adds.
Visitation and spend will be higher
Modelling undertaken by Frasers Property has found that Burwood Brickworks’ design and features will attract an extra four to five per cent visitation each year, and that those visitors will spend up to five per cent more at the till.
“We expect more people to come through our doors than they would a standard retail centre in the same location because ours will deliver an experience and comfort unlike any other,” Davis explains.
Ultimately, Frasers Property believes a successful shopping centre is about “much more than the transactions conducted under the roof,” Davis says.
“The real commodity is the visceral experience it gives people that walk through the front door, because the better that feeling is, the more often people will seek it out.”
First published in Property Australia.
Collaborators: Living Future Institute of Australia