Singapore Leaping on Eco-Friendly Retail Structures

By Stephanie Chiao

City Square Mall SingaporeThe development of eco-friendly malls has gained traction in recent years as retailers worldwide realize the environmental and economic benefits of energy-efficient shopping. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, began its renewable energy and efficiency campaign in 2005. It has since emerged as a leading force in sustainable retail, fueling 21 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.

Singapore has also made significant strides in this direction. According to its certifying body BCA Green Mark, the number of green projects has increased from 17 in 2005 to over 1,600 at present. Despite the higher initial costs of energy efficiency technology, Singapore’s City Development Limited managed to recoup its investment within two and a half years. According to CDL’s Sustainability Report for 2012, total energy savings from their 37 green-certified buildings amounted to $15.5 million between 2008 and 2011.

The 700,000 square feet City Square Mall, launched in 2009, is a symbol of Singapore’s successful green energy investment. It features energy-efficient technologies that save 12 million kWh annually, including a green roof fitted with solar panels, LED lighting and double-glazed façade glass that minimize heat penetration. High-efficiency air conditioners serve a dual purpose to reduce carbon emissions and collect condensation water. In addition, the basement carpark has 14 lots for hybrid and electric cars as well as a charging station for the latter.

cdl-gaiaWhile Singapore’s City Square Mall appears to be a feasible prototype for commercial developers, the green revolution of retail space in Singapore still faces an uphill battle – particularly in relation to split incentives between the landlord and tenant. The economic benefits of green retail are measured primarily through utility savings, which are paid for by the tenant. Building owners bear the installation costs but do not receive a direct return on their investment. This does not imply that there are zero monetary gains for developers and landlords. A recent report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which includes over 100,000 stores worldwide found that almost 75 per cent of respondents experienced brand enhancement as a result of their green practices - more than half reported stakeholder satisfaction as another primary benefit of sustainability.

Singapore’s City Square Mall is a distinct case study since the complex’s eco-features have substituted the role of an anchor store. However, Singapore still has significant ground to make on the green infrastructure frontier to meet the nationwide goal, set in 2009, to achieve 80% green certification for all buildings by 2030. If firms can successfully continue interweaving customer-centricity with sustainability, there is a greater probability that sustainable goals can be achieved.


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