The greening of malls in Malaysia

The Malaysian retail sector is going green with many malls adopting sustainable features and pursuing green certifications.

May 29, 2023

As the world becomes more aware of climate change impact and environmental degradation, many companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainability. The retail sector is no exception. Going green is not a new concept for malls in Malaysia. There are malls that have been adopting green measures long before it became fashionable to be green.

Lately, many malls in Malaysia have taken steps to incorporate sustainable features and pursue green certifications. While some have taken significant steps to include sustainable features and pursue green certifications, others have been slower to adopt sustainable practices. Several malls in Malaysia have achieved green certifications, such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Green Building Index (GBI), and GreenRE certifications.

For example, existing malls such as IPC Shopping Centre and MyTOWN Shopping Centre have both LEED and GBI certifications. At the same time, Melawati Mall, Tropicana Gardens Mall, and IOI City Mall are GBI certified. Meanwhile, Sunway Putra Mall has the GreenRE certification. These certifications recognise the malls' efforts to incorporate sustainable features such as energy-efficient lighting, water-efficient fixtures, and green spaces.

While LEED compares the project to a well-developed international standard, GBI is equivalent in Malaysia, which emphasises on implementation and construction, the well-being of workers, and continued monitoring even after the project is complete and operational. GreenRE is another Malaysian standard that lays additional emphasis on energy consumption and savings. These systems provide owners and occupants more confidence that the building is built and operated with the highest design and performance standards.

It is important to visit a green-certified mall from the visitor's perspective to understand that malls are more effective as destinations when their tenants offer a mixed lifestyle appeal to customers other than just shopping. Malls now offer customers more than shopping as a reason to visit.

According to a study by JLL, millennials, who are the economic driving force and keen to make a difference in the world, prefer companies that value social responsibility and environmental sustainability. So, to woo millennials, developers are not only adding restaurants and new retailers but also placing a greater emphasis on sustainability.

We can see most of the new malls in Malaysia pursuing green certifications. Malls under construction, such as The Exchange Mall, aim for GBI Gold and LEED Gold ratings. Likewise, 118 Mall is working towards achieving a platinum rating with three green building certification bodies: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Index and GreenRE.

Several retail players in Malaysia put focus on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) space. Among them is Sunway REIT, which focuses on sustainable procurement and supply chain practices. It is also Malaysia’s first Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to introduce a Green Lease Partnership Programme for its tenants, aligning the group’s energy efficiency goals with tenants.

Overall, the Malaysian retail sector is gradually moving towards a more sustainable future, with some malls taking significant steps to incorporate sustainable features and pursue green certifications.

JLL can help retail malls improve their sustainability performance, achieve green building certification, and communicate their sustainability initiatives to stakeholders.