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Conversations today are less about looking “green” and more about good design.



When I started planning VMSD’s annual green issue a few months back, I wasn’t quite sure where the conversation was going to go. There wasn’t that hot new green store to talk about, like we’ve had the past several years. There wasn’t one must-have new technology or building material everyone was ohhh-ing over. I wondered: Was the retail community even talking about green anymore?

The answer, I found, is yes. But the conversations have changed.

If five years ago the retail community was thinking about introducing the topic of sustainability into their store design strategies, today they’re sharing concrete examples and data of what’s already working in the field.

“There’s a baseline now,” says Brian Bucher, creative director, WD Partners (Columbus, Ohio). “Now they’re asking, ‘Are we doing enough? Is our focus on the right place? How do we get better?’ ”

In many cases, these green design elements are part of a rising number of corporate sustainability initiatives. And the players are coming from all sectors and brands: Retailers like REI and Timberland have been marching down the green pathway for years. Darden Restaurant’s more recent green initiatives come from a sense of stewardship. Some, like Walmart, say it’s about operational cost savings and little more. Any way you cut it, though, these retailers are pushing the conversation further.

All of this points to a future where sustainable design isn’t the trend du jour but simply good business sense. It’s about energy-efficient technologies, cost-saving lighting and water systems, utilizing local resources to cut down on transportation costs and rethinking what’s a building material.


Not long ago, green retail design conversations were about how a brand could go green without looking “crunchy” or “granola.” I’m confident those days are behind us. And I look forward to a future where we won’t be able to tell an energy-efficient building from a less-efficient one. But back at corporate headquarters, they’ll know, in the form of lower operational costs and happy stockholders.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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