Shopping centre owners launch innovation lab after closing in on CSR targets

Shopping centre owner intu has launched a new Green Lab to identify new solutions to reduce environmental impacts, as outlined in a sustainability report that announced the firm had reached a zero-waste-to-landfill milestone.

The real estate investment company, which owns complexes such as the Trafford Centre, intu Lakeside and intu Eldon Square, reached its zero-landfill target four years early. Intu’s sustainability report revealed that the firm is also 1% away from reaching a 75% recycling target.

However, a 50% reduction in carbon intensity against a 2010 baseline still needs some work. The company has so far reduced carbon intensity by 21%, and with just four years left to reach the target, intu is hoping that the Green Lab can introduce new schemes to accelerate progress.

“Being a responsible business is at the heart of our brand values and can be seen through our culture,” intu’s corporate responsibility director Alexander Nicoll said.

“This has ensured we have a rich history of delivering against our targets and driving forward sustainable initiatives. The Green Lab project enables us to achieve greater innovation within this important area.” 

Onsite savings

The Green Lab consists of a cross-functional team including asset managers, operational workers and those on the shopfit team. It will build on the numerous technologies deployed by intu to produce further carbon savings.

This year, intu completed phase four of its national LED programme, which has already created a return on interest in the three years it has been in operation. On average, LEDs are saving intu £2.5m annually on energy costs.

Combining the LED programme with behaviour change schemes amongst staff has helped intu reach a 47% reduction in building carbon intensity. The 21% reduction accounts for intu’s wider operations including fleet management, where the company will introduce 78 electric vehicle (EV) charge points for more than 900 EVs by the end of 2017.

The company is also trialling onsite solar panels at its Chapelfield shopping estate. The 800 solar panels are expected to account for 10% of the centre’s annual energy consumption, saving 107 tonnes of carbon annually. Payback for the installation will take around 9.5 years.

In 2016, intu achieved the ISO 50001 standard for energy management and retained a Carbon Trust Standard for the third year running. In 2017, intu will install a new environmental management system (EMS).

Matt Mace

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