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As customers become increasingly concerned about the impact of human activity on the environment, all retailers are investing heavily to transform every aspect of their operations. For architects and designers, there is more pressure than ever to design physical stores in line with their brands’ ambitious sustainability goals. 

This is reflected in what’s top of mind for RetailSpaces’ audience of store development executives. In 2023, we’ve received more requests than ever to explore best practices in sustainable store design. As such, this will be a topic we’ll be diving into when we get together in Palm Springs this September.

With this in mind, here is a throwback to a talk from our last RetailSpaces gathering. In the below recording, Philip Donovan, Director of the Regen CoLab at design firm, Little, speaks about the importance of a performance-based approach to sustainability in store design. 

Rather than focusing solely on meeting certain metrics or following a prescriptive set of sustainability guidelines, a performance-based approach involves using data to design and construct buildings that not only meet the needs of the present, but have a much greater impact.

“We want to roll out projects that uplift people and communities far outside the scope of our own footprint,” he explained. “We want everybody to have a better existence.” 

During the talk, Donovan offered a five-step framework for building a performance-based approach:

  1. Measure
  2. Think Upstream 
  3. Act Downstream
  4. Educate
  5. Influence

Donovan also stressed the lack of transparency in programs that merely attempt to tick all the boxes, so to speak. 

​​“There have been sustainability systems out there that haven’t had a lot of teeth in terms of accountability,” he said. 

“Follow up. Go back once you open that building. Understand how it’s using energy. Understand how it’s being operated. Understand how people are existing in that environment. Ask questions, and then start reacting to that. Plan a building, plan its energy use, model it, and then use that as the trajectory for the future of that project.”

Check out the full talk, and then request an invite to join us at RetailSpaces this fall!


Jason Schwab

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Content + event producer with an innate, insatiable curiosity. Fixated on the future of work and retail and restaurant design.

Physical Retail Reimagined.

RetailSpaces is a community for store development and design innovators.

Sept 15-17, 2024 | Scottsdale, AZ

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