Wilson

LAS VEGAS-The retail real estate sector might have taken longer than other property types to push for sustainable development, but it is catching up to the rest of the real estate world, according to speakers here at the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon convention.

Currently only 12% of the 21,300 new centers being planned this year are shooting for LEED certification, the standards sent up by the US Green Building Council to rate sustainable building, says Scott Wilson, vice president of construction at Jacksonville, FL-based Regency Centers. But that will change by the end of the year, when the USGBC has more defined LEED standards for retail.

Regency has $235 million in sustainable projects in its pipeline, including centers in North Las Vegas; La Quinta, CA; and Santa Barbara, CA. The thinking is that these centers will have lower operating costs due to less energy being used, sometimes 15% to 30% less, and in turn, increase a center’s value.

Since last year, membership in the USGBC has increased 120%, and 75,000 people have attended its workshops on sustainable development. “This is a phenomenon that is not going away,” says Jerry Yudelson, ICSC’s research scholar.

One firm betting on that attending the convention is Development Design Group, which is promoting a project called Quay Valley, CA. That project is planned to be 100% solar powered with 50,000 homes and two-million sf of retail on 13,000 acres. Development Design executives are branding the project the “city of the future.”