Recently I spoke at the Living Future Institute Australia Forum. It was a great event, and attendees were challenged to go beyond regular thinking when it comes to development and to dare to have a positive and regenerative effect in the work we do.
As a developer in a room full of environmentalists, I suspect the crowd wasn’t 100% on my side initially. But when I shared that we’ll be setting out to build the world’s most sustainable shopping centre in Burwood and still make a profit, I at least had their attention.
I bring some personal experience to these issues, as sustainability has been a BBQ stopper in my family for years. My eldest sister is active in sustainability policy and over the years our conversations have sometimes played-out out the stereotype of a tree hugger talking to a developer. But ultimately we always arrive at the pragmatic middle ground, which is the only place, in my view, from which progress is really possible.
How can we find competitive advantage? What can we do to make a neighbourhood shopping precinct a talked about destination? A place where memories are made because of the way people connect in the space? How can I as a leader find ways to inspire my people to be great?
I believe there is no longer any question about whether sustainability is here to stay as a major driver of retail centre design. It is. The question that is, what’s motivating our work in this area? I’d argue most developers are doing it either because they have to, or because they’re driven by ideology. Neither of these extremes make sense. The reason we build is to create centres that people want to be in for both convenience and enjoyment. Why? Because we believe this is the most successful way to return a profit to our shareholders.
Over the course of the Living Building Challenge and designing our Burwood Brickworks project, we have come to the view that building the world’s most sustainable shopping centre can help us achieve both of these goals.
Our plans could benefit a potential catchment of 100,000 people through amenity, connection to transport and overall quality of life, all within 15km of the CBD.
And so at the end of the day, we genuinely believe that the sustainability features of this development will increase trading and penetration. While we would probably have a greater margin without these initiatives, we feel it makes up for it by having a stronger benefit for the culture of the centre and its community.
One of the many reasons we believe it will work is that by creating a place full of natural light, fresh air and greenery, we’re creating a meaningful place that feels comfortable and makes people want to stay and shop day and night.
One where you can live next to a retail offering with not just a supermarket and mini majors, but also essential services like a grocer, butcher, news agency, pharmacy and childcare. To complement this convenience will be entertainment inside and outside through a 6-screen cinema and plenty of outdoor space, blurring the lines between traditional retail and a more contemporary idea of a town centre.
We continually ask ourselves whether the decisions we’re making are enabling us to deliver great product. With a lot of moving parts and a concept has never been built before, things can change quickly. We’ll face a problem and think we have a solution, then we’ll uncover something and realise we need to go back to the drawing board.
Burwood Brickworks is the example of how sustainability makes good business sense, an ideal blend of making profits but also setting new benchmarks in sustainability. I’m sure that’s something even my big sister can agree with.
We believe that life’s best experiences are created by people connecting in memorable places. Our leasing team makes this happen, right across Australia.
Executive General Manager - Retail
Leading the fastest growing Division within FPA, Peri’s role is underpinned by a focus on mixed-use precincts and the neighbourhood retail sector. Prior to joining FPA in 2008, Peri held senior property roles at Coles
Jack Davis is a Development Manager responsible for new retail and mixed use development opportunities, having worked on projects in VIC and WA at Frasers Property Australia. With an interest in destination and experienced based retail centres and a desire for innovation in design and sustainability, Jack is currently leading a team striving for the title of 'The World's Most Sustainable Retail Centre' on the Burwood Brickworks development. Jack holds a BA Property & Construction and a BA Commerce, majoring in Finance and has a strong background in development, delivery and stakeholder management on large and medium scale projects within the retail and commercial sectors.
Scott West holds a BA of Arts (Architecture) and a BA of Architecture. He has over 20 years experience in the industry and is a Green Star Accredited Professional. Scott has been involved in numerous high profile projects with a sustainability focus, delivering Australia's first retail centre to receive a 6 Star Green Star — Retail Centre Design v1 rating at The Ponds and working alongside the Burwood Brickworks team to deliver 'The World's Most Sustainable Retail Centre'.