As I sit in the Phoenix airport at the conclusion of the ICSC RetailGreen Conference, I am reflecting on the whole question of who cares most about sustainable retail environments. I am also pondering who within retail is in the best position to make a significant sea change towards “greening” retail.
My conclusion is that it takes a village. Everyone has skin in the game…developers, landlords, vendors, and especially retailers at all levels (architecture, construction, sourcing, real estate and facilities). Some of these groups outside of the retailer are more willing than others to be players. But, at the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility falls on the retailer to drive the change. Not only is retail the initial financial source, but the brand has the most to gain. Consequently, facilities maintenance is most responsible for making it stick.
While facilities management is the end point in the design, build and open phases, it is a valued team player that should be at the table to ensure the sustainability initiatives are maintained for the life of the store. During one of the ICSC sessions, a retailer panelist who oversees corporate sustainability was asked where the push comes from to be a sustainable brand. While he acknowledged that it has to have support from the top, he was quick to add it is engrained in the corporate culture at all levels, including the store associates who are the touch point for the customer. In short, everyone has skin in the game.
After the conference, I am coming away feeling very proud of the part PRSM plays in helping retail FMs to be key players in creating and maintaining sustainable retail environments. Our Sustainability Initiative offers members the peer and industry resources, information and education they can tap to be true contributors to a green store environment. Of all the people in the chain, FMs are the only ones that have the vendor resources, decision making authority, and sometimes the passion to maintain a sustainable store. So, retail FMs, stand tall and wield your authority wisely for the benefit of greening retail.