Low carbon smart assets

Our objective is to significantly reduce the long-term carbon footprint of our asset portfolio by implementing innovative technologies that improve energy efficiency, increase our uptake of rooftop solar, and automate superior asset performance.

We have established a set of short-, medium- and long-term environmental targets to guide our practices across centre management, new developments, capital upgrades and investments, ensuring alignment in our approach right across the business and setting ourselves up to succeed in achieving this objective.

Net Zero carbon target

Vicinity has set a public target to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030 for our wholly owned retail assets.

This long-term target aligns to Australia’s commitments under The Paris Agreement (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and will be achieved through a combination of Vicinity’s solar investment and accelerated energy efficiency programs.

The Net Zero target covers the scope 1 and scope 2 carbon emissions from the common mall area of Vicinity’s 33 wholly owned centres - that is, the direct emissions within our operational control at these assets.

The target will be achieved via a scaled up energy efficiency program and moving away from carbon intensive energy sources through electrification of equipment and plant currently running on fuel sources such as gas, as well as installing large-scale onsite solar across our portfolio.

We are on track to achieve our Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030 target, having reduced our energy intensity by 20%*. since June 2016, and continue to progress our on-site solar program across our wholly-owned retail assets as well as across our managed portfolio.

Vicinity’s Net Zero target offers the opportunity for us to work with our co-owners in the future to expand the target to more of our managed centres where shared sustainability ambitions are evident, and work with our retailers to help reduce their carbon footprint.

To 29 February 2020 (excluding COVID-19 impacted performance period).

 

Click here to download the infographic.

Integrated energy strategy

We use a lot of energy to operate our shopping centres. In fact, energy is one of Vicinity’s largest operational costs - and the carbon emissions generated through our energy use is our most material direct environmental impact.

Since 2017 we have been rolling out our Integrated Energy Strategy (IES) to address the growing challenges of the volatile Australian energy market and achieve a number of other business objectives including our Net Zero carbon target.* The IES helps make the business more sustainable, energy resilient and cost effective. 

The IES includes four key pillars - renewable generation, storage, efficiency and management – and is designed to deliver long-term outcomes such as energy-smart destinations, improved energy resilience, reduced consumption of electricity generated from the national grid and significant reductions in our carbon emissions including Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030 for our wholly owned retail assets, the latter being a key objective of the Group’s sustainability strategy.

*Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030 for Vicinity’s wholly owned retail assets.

 

On-site solar program

We have committed to Australia’s largest shopping centre solar program across two stages creating a fully integrated energy system incorporating the latest renewable technology innovations.

In May 2018, we announced the first stage of our solar program, a $28 million investment across five centres in South Australia and Western Australia. The 11.2MW project saw approximately 29,000 solar panels installed on rooftops and carpark shades at our centres, along with a large scale commercial battery, generating approximately 17.4 gigawatt hours of clean energy each year. The renewable energy generated is used at our centres, reducing reliance on the grid and providing a benefit to our retailers and our business as a buffer from the volatile energy market.

Stage one included the largest carpark solar installation in Australian retail property with 2,400 covered bays being constructed to provide additional solar generation and greater customer comfort.

Stage two of the solar program was announced in September 2018 with a further $45 million commitment to deliver an additional 31GWh annual generation – bringing the program total to 46.7GWh generation each year. In FY20, our industry-leading solar program continues. We have installed 25.2MW of solar across our managed portfolio at the end of FY20, completing installations at Castle Plaza, Elizabeth City Centre, Altona Gate, Victoria Gardens, DFO Homebush, Ellenbrook Central and Livingston Marketplace during the year.

While Australia continues to face uncertainty surrounding a clear national policy framework to contain electricity generation costs, our solar program will reduce Vicinity’s reliance on the grid and exposure to volatile energy pricing, delivering strong investment returns while reducing carbon emissions from our asset portfolio.

Combined, phases one and two of the solar program represent Australia’s largest shopping centres solar platform, cementing Vicinity’s sustainability leadership position and creating shared value for our consumers, retailers, investors and the communities where we operate.

Solar installation at Oakleigh Central (VIC)

Solar program driving further innovation

Vicinity’s industry-leading solar program is creating a backbone for further integrated energy innovations and investment at our centres.

Our solar program has encouraged the exploration and adoption of complementary renewable energy initiatives such as emerging solar technologies, battery storage, waste to energy, and electric vehicle charging.

In 2018, Vicinity installed Australian retail property’s first storage battery at Castle Plaza, SA. The 548kWh battery is enabling solar energy generated at the centre to be deployed at times when it is most needed and better manage peak demand periods.

In 2019 we unveiled a global first clear solar glass trial at Warwick Grove in Western Australia. Developed with smart technology partners, ClearVue Technologies, the new clear solar glass atrium harvests solar energy to generate clean, renewable power and is also transparent, making it perfect for use where standard window glass is normally used.

Generation results from the trial have been positive with the atrium creating enough clean energy to power lighting, signage and a display screen in the immediate area of the centre.

Looking ahead for Vicinity, our roof and car park solar installations will eventually reach capacity so this cutting-edge clear solar glass technology has great potential for future shopping centre and mixed-use developments to help us meet our renewable energy and carbon reduction objectives.ntegrating electric vehicle (EV) charging is another component of Vicinity’s program that is in advanced planning. Vicinity has invested in EV charging station trials at four centres, with new installations to be mandatory for future retail developments.

Global first clear solar glass trial at Warwick Grove (WA)

Case study: Australia’s largest Solar Shaded Car Park

Australia’s largest Solar Shaded Car Park at Elizabeth City Centre (SA)

 

In December 2019, Vicinity completed the installation of Australia’s largest solar shaded car park project at our Elizabeth City Centre in South Australia. It covers more than 1,400 car parking spaces, and features over 9,000 solar panels with a total solar capacity of 3.1MW, which is addition to the existing 2.7MW installed on the centre’s roof space.

Expected annual generation from the completed roof and car park solar system is more than 8,000MWh, which is enough clean energy to power approximately 1,400 average South Australian homes for a year.

Elizabeth City Centre Manager, Glenn Hanson said: “We’re very excited to see all our hard work come to life with the completed installation. It’s great for our customers and our retailers, and we welcome the additional clean energy we’ll generate to help us better manage our significant energy demands."

Resource efficiency improvements

Driving efficiency improvements across our energy, water and waste management practices, which all have a direct or indirect impact on our overall carbon and environmental footprint, is a key focus for our centre operations.   

Vicinity’s Environmental Improvement Program drives continuous improvements in operational energy, water and waste performance throughout our portfolio. Its implementation is supported through centre level management plans, which identify specific environmental initiatives to help us achieve our annual resource efficiency targets. These plans are updated every year through our Strategic Asset Planning process and take account of evolving best practices in building environmental management.

To monitor our performance and maintain accountability we undertake quarterly reporting to our Board and the Sustainability Committee, as well as our strategic partners to keep them informed on our progress.

The table below provides an overview of our group-wide environmental performance. To view asset level data, download our FY20 Performance Pack here

Vicinity Centres environmental performance1,2

Metric

Unit

FY165 FY175 FY185 FY19 FY20

Gross Lettable Area

sqm

2,971,964

2,850,039

2,751,687

2,564,531

2,497,577

Total energy use

GJ

963,524

869,043

 825,908

763,348

674,557

(724,660)

Energy intensity

MJ/sqm3

324

305

300

298

270

(290)

Scope 1 emissions

tCO2-e4

7,695

6,272

4,516

4,667

 5,084

(5,393)

Scope 2 emissions

tCO2-e4

220,021

195,879

185,660

169,520

 140,959

(153,128)

 Scope 1+2 emissions

tCO2-e4

227,716

202,151

190,176

174,187

146,043

(158,521) 

Emissions intensity (Scope 1 + 2)

kg CO2-e/sqm3

77

71

69

68 

58.5

(63.5)

Scope 3 emissions

tCO2-e4

78,137

69,516

64,939

59,698

45,300

(51,312)

Total water use

mL

3,098

2,933

2,802

 2,721

2,373

(2,590)

Water intensity

kL CO2-e/sqm3

1.04

1.03

1.02

 1.04

0.94

(1.04)

Recycling rate

% of total waste

35

36

43

44 

49 

Notes: 
  1. Reporting scope is for assets under management. Download our FY20 Performance Pack for further details. For more information on reporting scope and criteria, see our FY20 Sustainability Reporting Criteria here
  2. Third party assurance has been undertaken for this dataset. Download our assurance statement here
  3. Square meters (sqm) refers to retail footprint – square metres of gross lettable area (GLA)
  4. Tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent.
  5. Data has been restated from the figures previously reported publicly, based on receipt of invoices 
  6. Reduced operating hours due to COVID-19 during March to June 2020 has impacted performance. Figures shown in brackets are for the non COVID-19 impacted performance period (12 months to 29 February 2020).

 

Energy and carbon

 

During FY20, we reduced our absolute energy use by 12 per cent and achieved a reduction of 16 per cent in our absolute scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions against our 2019 baseline. Our energy intensity reduced by eight per cent from the previous year, resulting in a reduction in our scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions intensity by 14 per cent. Energy and carbon intensity reductions were 4% and 8% respectively for non COVID-19 impacted performance period (to 29 February 2020), surpassing our FY20 target of 3% reduction for both energy and carbon intensity. This is the direct result of our environment improvement program, and the successful implementation of centre level plans that focus our capital expenditure on initiatives to reduce building energy consumption and ensure all operational equipment such as air conditioning, lighting, vertical transport and building management systems are running as efficiently as possible. 

 

Waste and recycling

As a retail property owner and manager, waste is one of our largest indirect environmental impacts.

Our retailers generate large quantities of waste, largely through packaging materials and food waste. To ensure that as much waste as possible is recycled, we provide the right infrastructure, guidance and support to our retailers and consumers.

Our approach to waste management is directed by the waste hierarchy – essentially an order of preference for action to reduce and manage waste - and focuses on firstly encouraging waste avoidance and minimisation, and then on separating and recovering waste that is generated at the source to enable as much reuse and recycling as possible. All of our centres have waste management plans and annual recycling and resource recovery targets to increase recycling rates and minimise waste sent to landfill.

During FY20, we achieved an average waste diversion from landfill rate of 49 per cent (44 per cent in FY19) through improved source separation and recycling practices.

Some individual centres achieved diversion from landfill rates well above average, with Chatswood Chase achieving 68 per cent, Oakleigh Central 68 per cent, DFO Moorabbin 66 per cent, Gympie Central 63 per cent, and Dianella Plaza 63 per cent. See FY20 Performance Pack for asset level reporting.

 

Waste disposal method (tonnes)

Organics recycling at Broadmeadows Shopping Centre (VIC)

Our waste management approach is achieving great results through its focus on supporting retailers and consumers to separate waste at the time it is generated and via targeting the most prevalent waste streams for recycling. During FY20, we’ve improved our performance, primarily via our focus on diverting organic waste such as food scraps, leftovers and used coffee grounds from landfill, with a program targeting food court and fresh food retailers.

We  went through a tender process to select a new national waste management provider. The contract with this provider, who has strong recycling credentials, commenced in FY20.

Case Study: Moving The Needle

For one week in October 2019, Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre joined forces with the Salvation Army’s Moving the Needle campaign and held a ‘reverse pop-up’ shop. The Moving the Needle pop up encouraged shoppers visiting the centre to get involved by donating their unwanted clothing, extending its life by providing it to someone in need and reducing the amount of textiles sent to landfill.

The Moving the Needle campaign encourages shoppers to use every new purchase as a reminder to donate their unwanted clothing to charity rather than dispose of it to landfill.  The campaign estimates that 311,040 tonnes of clothing waste is generated in Australia each year and aims to help drive a 20 per cent reduction in textile waste by 2022.

In March 2020 six of Vicinity’s centres were flagged to host the campaign’s second round, however participation was cut short due to the escalating COVID-19 situation.  We hope to continue to work with Moving the Needle in future as the campaign continues to expand its reach. 

Water

Across much of Australia, water is a scarce resource that must be managed responsibly.

Our Environment Improvement Program includes projects to improve our water efficiency, targeting the most water intensive elements of our centres, such as centre amenities, cleaning, air conditioning plants and food retailer usage.

To reduce water consumption, in FY20 we continued our focus on two key projects - the installation of high efficiency and waterless fixtures during amenity upgrades, and the use of new technology to capture data from water meters throughout our centres.

For asset level reporting, see our FY20 Performance Pack.

Image on right: Water saving taps at Oakleigh Central (VIC)

Case study: Getting smart about water

In FY19, we piloted new smart water meter technology which makes water usage data available almost in real time, enabling us to better monitor and manage water use and identify any leaks should they occur. Following the successful pilot, we commenced the installation of smart water meters at an additional 13 centres in FY20.

The water meters provide insights on tenants’ water use and enable us to be targeted in the encouragement of more efficient behaviours.

Box Hill Central, VIC was our pilot site and smart water meters have been installed at 70 water intensive retailers.

Linda Finch, Operations Manager at Box Hill Central said, “Accurately measuring our water use and providing the information to retailers encourages improved water saving behaviour. It’s additionally great to see that the water meters are already helping us identify leaks early and save more water”.

Best practice approach to Environmental Management

Vicinity’s Environmental Management System is aligned to best practice standards (for example, ISO14001). Our Environmental Management System enables us to systematically identify, monitor and manage material environmental aspects and impacts, and risks and opportunities, including those associated with energy and water use, carbon emissions, climate resilience, biodiversity and ecology, indoor environment quality, stormwater, noise and air quality, waste and recycling.

Each of our centres has site specific Environmental Management Plan which sets out how we manage any potential environmental impacts at that centre. 

We are committed to actively evolving and adopting best practice environmental management strategies.