Shopping centres can play vital role in low-carbon transition, say EU experts

Shopping centres can play a key role in promoting low-carbon transition, say experts

Recommendations from EU-funded research project suggest shopping centres could prove a ‘unique trigger point’ for wider decarbonisation – if policy levers hit the right note

Shopping centres across Europe could hold the key to delivering significant carbon emission cuts and driving more sustainable behaviour amongst customers, according to the conclusions of a four-year EU-funded research project released last week.

By 2030, more than 60 per cent of the trading bloc’s shopping centre stock is expected to be renovated, making the next 15 years a crucial time for embedding low-carbon design solutions into the refits alongside aesthetic improvements.

The researchers want to see impending legislation amended to ensure these revamped shopping centres play a positive role in the low-carbon transition, from promoting green technologies like energy efficient lighting and electric cars to supporting the energy transition via investments in renewable energy.

They also point out shopping centres act as a key influencer for a wide range of stakeholders, and have the power to force tenants – including major retailers – to comply with higher green standards.  

The group’s conclusions set out a number of recommendations for policy amendments to the Clean Energy for All package, which is currently under review in the EU, in order to drive behaviour change in shopping centres and beyond.

For example, the paper suggests Member States could promote the greenest shopping centres, support improvement work and require that at least one in 10 parking spaces be equipped for electric vehicles.

They also recommend Member States require shopping centres report environmental, social and governance data to investors and the public via an open benchmarking platform, and that shopping centres be allowed to experiment more freely as active players in the energy market.

The suggestions come as some players in the sector move to establish themselves as green leaders.

Earlier this year, Hammerson, which owns major shopping centres in the UK and France, set out its new ‘Net Positive’ strategy, which aims to ensure the company delivers a “net positive impact” across carbon emissions, resource use, water use, and its socio-economic activities by 2030.

The plan includes working with its tenants to promote higher standards and championing low-carbon solutions to the local communities, Hammerson’s head of sustainability Louise Ellison told BusinessGreen at the time.