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When Shopping Centre launched 20 years ago sustainability was barely on the agenda. But it has come to dominate management practices, finds Sean Kelly

sustainability revolution


made by his company “Rethinking Recycling” branded “This ruler is made from 7 recycled plastic cups.” Lucas was an early recycling champion within the shopping centre industry. However back then his message may have been falling on partially


deaf ears. Over time, however, ‘recycling’ has been subsumed into the wider 1960s-born environmental umbrella Corporate Social Responsibility terminology. And in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium CSR seems to have evolved into what is now termed ‘sustainability’. Whether it’s a generation of “Wombles” watchers who have grown up into senior management and board level executives or just that eco- education is at last making an impact, sustainability has leapfrogged up to centre stage on the boardroom agenda. The shopping centre sector had its sustainability epiphany in 2006.

That year Shopping Centre editor Graham Parker called sustainability “The biggest issue facing the industry today” in the joint BCSC/Shopping Centre publication What’s In Store. That same year Capital & Regional’s Mall Corporation launched its far-reaching EnviroMall initiative. Sustainability was cemented as an industry cornerstone in early

2007 when incoming BCSC president John Bullough made it his focal theme and created a Sustainability Taskforce, launching a sustainability web portal with benchmarking company Upstream. “It is entrusted to us to strike the right balance between the drive

elegates attending the BCSC conferences in the 1990s may remember encountering Edwin R Lucas. And hopefully some still have his corporate calling card – a grey and green ruler

for commercial dominance and the individual long-term needs of the community,” Bullough who was then at Grosvenor, said at the time. “The issue is as dominant as ever and should remain at the top of

any retail property developer’s corporate agenda,” says Bullough, who recently retired as CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties and is back in the UK now enjoying an “active retirement” undertaking strategic consultancy.

And it continues as a primary message for the organisation.

BCSC has just announced its support for two Henley Business School executive education courses focusing on sustainability – one in collaboration with Harvard Business School. One executive far ahead of the industry curve on environmental

issues was Paul Cornes. Cornes, who can be said to be the industry’s first corporate eco-warrior, worked at John Lewis and Habitat before leading property giant PruPIM’s environmental efforts from 2002. He made the job title switch from director of corporate responsibility to director of sustainability in 2006 – the same year PruPIM began purchasing green energy and achieved the industry-focal ISO 14001 certification for environmental management. About 18 months after rolling out that single initiative PruPIM had saved around £2m in costs. “In the early days there were only a few organisations that ‘got’ CSR including PruPIM and Land Securities,” says Cornes who used a mix of trademark affable charm and determination to drive the eco-agenda to board level at PruPIM. “As matters developed the board could see sustainability didn’t just look good to stakeholders but it could underpin the business.”

March 1998

April 1998

May 1998

May 1998

With a year to go before opening, Lend Lease had secured retailers for 90 per cent of Bluewater’s units

Causeway, Bristol, brought in 330,000 visitors in its first week of trading


The Mall at Cribbs

The Oracle, Reading, which would consist of a 10-screen cinema, 1,700 car parking spaces and 10,000 sq ft of restaurants

Work began on Phase II of

£36m scheme built on the site of a former Barnet hospital opened. It had 11 units covering 183,000 sq ft

Friern Bridge Retail Park, the

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