The BCSC Conference and Showcase kicked off this morning with a call to action on sustainability.

BCSC president John Bullough said that customers are becoming ever more discerning and aware of the issues, and that doing things the right way will increasingly impact on performance and differentiate between projects.

Bullough explained how the BCSC was gearing itself up to lead the way in sustainability. It will launch a BCSC Sustainability Charter this month to benchmark the industry and is using the next two days of the conference to showcase best practice.

“As the latest centres open here in the UK I think we must all remain vigilant,” he said. “It is perhaps timely that we reflect again on how to deliver those real, connected places that enhance the wider economic health of town and city centres. It is entrusted to us to strike the right balance between the drive for commercial dominance and the individual long-term needs of the community.”

The drive for sustainability is not new. Retailers have been banging the sustainability drum for a couple of years and, whether it’s Tesco opening a wooden store up in Scotland or retailers in the small village of Modbury in Devon banding together to ban carrier bags, it all hits the headlines.

Sustainability is new for property though. When expanding, retailers have to look at where the best location is for their store. Having to think about sustainability adds a completely different dimension to a property search.

And, while retailers will still want to be in the best location first and foremost, the need to be in sustainable buildings will become greater. New developments are being built across the UK’s town centres and the property industry should start asking questions about the sustainability of any new scheme.

Retailers such as John Lewis have been asking such questions for a long time. But all retailers need to ask about the development in order for the issue to filter through. While ultimately it won’t be a deal breaker for a retailer that desperately needs to be in that location, raising the issue will serve to push the issue forward.