Making Eco-Friendly Retail Spaces

Experts say that retrofitting retail spaces to make them “green” is much more difficult than other types of commercial space because there are more considerations and different kinds …

Experts say that retrofitting retail spaces to make them “green” is much more difficult than other types of commercial space because there are more considerations and different kinds of uses across the spectrum of building types. Taking the Chelsea Market in New York City as an example, achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification wasn’t possible due to limitations presented by the size of the space and the company’s desire to not disrupt shopping ease, so designers stuck with replacing fluorescent lights with high-efficiency LEDs. Although a seemingly small change, the owners expect to save $25,000 a year in energy costs. For more on this continue reading the following article from National Real Estate Investor.

When Jamestown Development and Construction decided to pursue green improvements at the Chelsea Market retail hub in New York City, executives there knew they could not simply copy a template of environmental improvements from other buildings in their portfolio.

Retail properties, out of all commercial building types, require a highly specialized approach to going green, says Katharine Kelley, president of Green Street Properties, the sustainability arm of Jamestown. The company, based in Cologne, Germany, with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta and New York, has $2.2 billion worth of assets in the states.

“If you put all class-A high-rise buildings in a bucket you’ll have a pretty narrow menu of typical environmental solutions,” says Kelley. “If you think of retail across all categories, there is such a different range of product types, you really have to think in a broad way about all your choices.”

While LEED designation is always desirable, it wasn’t viable for Chelsea Market, located at 75 Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, because of how the center is spread out over a city block. But Jamestown knew there was still much that could be done.

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Within the last few months, a lighting retrofit was installed in Chelsea Market’s stairwells, the main market hall and loading dock areas. For a cost of about $60,000, Jamestown replaced 365 traditional florescent lights with LED or very high-efficiency fluorescents.

“At the end of the day we expect to see about $25,000 in annual energy savings and a reduction of 138,944 kW hours per year,” Kelley says.

While the goal was to save money and energy, Kelley says the company could not lose sight of its tenants’ desire for a welcoming environment for customers— another complication of greening retail. When it comes to greening retail in order to make really big impacts, it is best to have tenants on board.

“Our goal was to increase the lighting efficiency, but without sacrificing the overall look and aesthetic that creates a dynamic retail environment,” she says. “The landlord can take things to a certain level with common area improvements, better lighting, landscaping, irrigation [and to make in-between-lease changes]. But to really achieve significant goals you have to have the tenant involved in terms of how they are handling their lighting, energy and water use.”

Chelsea Markets is not Jamestown’s only recent environmental endeavor. At the Alameda Shopping Center in California, the company is investigating the purchase of a 450 kW solar power system that would provide about $100,000 worth of energy for the 593,000-sq.-ft. center. If approved, the solar project would cost about $1.5 million and have a ROI of about four years.

The Ponce City market in Atlanta, is an industrial re-use project that will include 300,000 sq. ft. of retail within a 1.1-million-sq.-ft. mixed-use complex that also includes office and multifamily housing. Jamestown is aiming for a LEED Silver designation and one of the ways to reach that goal is by recycling or reusing 90 percent of demolition debris.

With green retail Kelley advises that companies need to find that specialized package, they need to ensure it will make a real impact—not just be a “green gizmo”—and then they have to make sure everyone knows about it.

“You have to communicate this to your tenants, your residents, your stakeholders, your visitors so they all understand and appreciate what has been done,” she says. “It helps from a sales-and-marketing perspective, so people feel good about shopping or living there or signing a lease there.”

This article was republished with permission from National Real Estate Investor.


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