'The jewel in the crown': Landsec drives towards science-based target with Britain's biggest shopping centre solar installation
The UK's largest commercial property developer has today (11 August) flicked the switch on a giant rooftop solar system at a shopping centre in Leeds, kicking off a 12-month investment programme in onsite sustainability across its estate.
Landsec, formerly known as Land Securities, has fitted 2,902 solar panels atop the White Rose shopping centre, making it the biggest photovoltaic (PV) system at a retail site in the country – more than double the size of the system recently installed on top of the Serpentine Green Regional retail centre by rival property company British Land.
The White Rose installation, which has been entirely self-funded by Landsec, will generate 680MWh of power a year and will supply 39% of the daytime electricity used in the mall areas of the shopping centre. In its first year of operation, the PV system will reduce White Rose’s carbon emissions by 250 tonnes – the equivalent of more than 500,000 miles of car emissions.
Despite the system’s relatively lengthy payback period of eight years, Landsec’s head of sustainability Caroline Hill believes solar power offers a number of significant business benefits for both the landlord and its tenants.
“Eight years is a long payback, but with solar PV, things like brand reputation and customer experience come into play,” Hill said.
“Of course, the retailers will benefit from reduced energy bills for the energy consumed in the mall areas as of today. But a second benefit is that the solar is very visible – all of the customers that uses the shopping centre can see it and I think that makes a real statement of Landsec’s ambitions on renewables, and provides a reputational advantage for the retailers.
“Under our new branding, there’s a strong focus on the 'experience’ that we’re providing and, for us, that’s about making sustainability easy for our customers so that they can work with us and achieve their sustainability goals as well.”
The new solar PV installation is the latest development in an ongoing sustainability strategy at the White Rose centre, which also includes a comprehensive bio-diversity programme, several energy efficiency measures – such as LED lighting upgrades – and a focus on reducing food waste.
White Rose is the ninth asset to have solar PV installed across the Landsec estate as the company seeks to position itself at the forefront of sustainable energy innovation in the UK property sector. Last year, the firm became the first company of its kind to use 100% renewable electricity, and earlier this year it led industry in instating a science-based target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
En route to that ambitious goal, Hill revealed that the Landsec sustainability team has assessed every property within LandSec’s estate and is now embarking upon a rolling programme of sustainability upgrades.
Five sites have been identified for additional solar installations – including the Trinity shopping centre, also in Leeds, which will have a new PV system up and running next month. Meanwhile, the company will be undergoing a “major LED upgrade programme” which is expected to deliver a payback closer to two years. The Xscape leisure centre in Milton Keynes is among the first sites that have been identified for an LED retrofit later this year.
Hill also confirmed that Landsec is “actively looking” at energy storage at a number of its sites, again with an emphasis on its shopping centres, which tend to have more space to house the large batteries.
“Once storage has lightly lower costs, it really will be a game-changer because then we can start to utilise some really clever things like demand response,” Hill said.
Sustainable Business Covered podcast: In the green room with Landsec's Sarah Beattie
Landsec's senior environment and energy manager Sarah Beattie was the latest guest to enter the green room - edie's new interview hub for sustainability leaders, brought to you exclusively as part of the Sustainable Business Covered podcast.
Listen to the full episode above, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.