COMMENTARY

Rethinking Retail Store Construction

In Asia and globally, sustainability consulting is becoming increasingly relevant to the construction industry, even more so with the luxury retail brand’s construction and renovations. Luxury retail brands are leading the demand for greener designs, construction, and operations from their retail stores and showrooms all the way to their corporate headquarters, logistic centers and even to their suppliers. Retailers have traditionally been perceived as wasteful and negligent of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) along with a lack of supply chain transparency. With the rise in global concern of climate change and social sustainability, retail brands have seen customers trust and loyalty grow with those retailers that are making sustainability a pillar of their business operations. As B2C businesses, retailers must now promise their global consumers that their corporate sustainability agenda is making a measurable difference and go way beyond small steps and haphazard ways of “green-washing”.

LEED’s many benefits to a brand. LEED is world’s most widely used green building design and construction standard. Available for virtually all building project types, LEED provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.

Sustainability Goes Beyond The Supply Chain
In recent years, retailers have begun to understand that while a product’s life-time is often short-lived, a new building’s life-time is long-lived and has many direct impacts on energy demand, water consumption, air quality, health of tenants and construction materials. Many global luxury retail brands are applying green building standards such as the internationally-recognized LEED Certification, with more and more developing their own sustainability standards that cover not only operations, but also construction and material use across their entire brand portfolio. These are exciting times as instead of brands focusing on short term product supply chain solutions, green retail construction and operations, brands are focused on creating long term impacts through education, creating core cultural changes to lead them into the future.

There is also huge growth possibility in some brands that currently don’t have sustainability as a key focus in their operations. Sustainability consulting plays a crucial role in quickly educating these brands about the advantages of sustainable practices and presenting them with the business case to adjust their operations starting with their physical assets. A key part of any green building project is sourcing building materials locally and decreasing the carbon footprint of the project simply through logistics. This also boosts local suppliers and helps them stay in business to provide other businesses with locally sourced materials. Building to LEED standards also incentivizes projects/brands to promote social equity and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to their employees, propagating that information throughout the communities they are in.

At BEE Incorporations, we work with globally recognized brands who have stores in the four corners of the world. By working with these customers who are seen as leaders in the industry, we can help them tackle some of the most urgent social and environmental challenges that they face locally and internationally, while also paving a path for followers to take. Challenges like green energy, water reduction and responsible materials adoption. One example would be Starbucks where our relationship started out with BEE initially being hired to implement their training programs for their internal sustainability initiative. Due to the success of this program, the relationship grew and BEE started managing from design to completion of the LEED certification process for their stores, starting with their first Mainland China stores in Hefei and at the Shanghai Expo site. We are now supporting them globally on various levels with projects such as their Roasteries that are opening up in places like Milan and Tokyo as well as Shanghai. With examples like this we are showing that sustainability in retail has a future in Mainland China and the world, creating a blueprint for future businesses to follow.

Starbucks Shanghai Reserve Roastery features sustainable store design and construction, from indoor air quality monitoring to green materials. Photo credit to Starbucks Coffee Company.

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