The report, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Retail: The Impact of Green Buildings on People and Profit, says that retailers are currently out missing key opportunities by ignoring the impact of the physical retail environment

According to the report, emerging evidence shows that greener, healthier retail stores – those which typically have good levels of daylight, fresh air and greenery – are becoming more attractive to consumers and potentially more profitable for retailers.

“The days of ‘grey box retailers’ are numbered,” said WGBC chief executive Terri Wills, “A new breed of businesses is emerging which understands that better shopping environments lead to better experiences for consumers which, in turn, lead to better economics for retailers.

“This report is about empowering retailers to look within their own properties to understand and monetise how better, more sustainable physical environments can potentially drive profit, and in doing so, ultimately strengthens the business case for greener, healthier buildings.”

The report details a number of simple ways in which retailers can measure the impact of surroundings on profit by using data – particularly on consumer behaviour – which may already be available at their fingertips. One tip suggests that managers should identify stores that have undergone refurbishments and compare financial results in these stores pre and post-refurbishment.

UK Green Building Council policy director John Alker said: “This should be a wake up call for retailers and those with a stake in retail property. They are sitting on a potential gold-mine of data, which can help cement the business case for investing in healthy, greener stores – both new build, and refurbishment. Leaders in the sector realise this, we now need to see action across the board.”


Marks and Spencers is a leader retailer in this area, having recently its ‘eco-store’ in Newcastle, fronted by a 167m green wall featuring 16,000 plants.

M&S Plan A property manager Zoe Young, who contributed to the report, said: “Working on the report both retail and sustainability professionals agreed health and wellbeing is relevant to enhancing the customer experience – particularly in an ever-changing retail landscape where shoppers have more choices than ever before. The launch of this report provides a catalyst for action in developing shops that enhance health, wellbeing and productivity.”

The new study builds on previous research from the WGBC which found that green buildings could also enhance worker productivity.

The WGBC found that up to 11% gains could be made in productivity from improved ventilation, while up to 23% gains could be achieved in productivity from improved lighting design.

Brad Allen


Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie