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Long road ahead for India’s malls to go green

According to reports, an average shopping mall in India that occupies an area of 100,000 sq. ft to 500,000 sq. ft, consumes between 120,000 litres and 600,000 litres of water a day. It also consumes roughly 250 kilowatts of power per square metre in a year. Ideally, a commercial structure of this scale should consume about 30% to 40% less power and water, according to conservation experts. While Indian retailers are only just starting to think green, major retail chains across the world have already put their sustainable strategies in place.

Sustainability is not just a goal, it is a necessity, according to Re-envisioning Retail, a new report on business and environment released by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) in partnership with RBC Royal Bank (available at retailcouncil.org). While it’s early days for India’s $450 billion retail industry to practise the slogan, the retail report on Canada notes that the “fast-growing middle classes in developing countries such as India and China are hungry for more transportation, energy, food and consumer goods—everything from tablet computers to cars…with so many more chasing the “good life,” there is certain to be greater pressure on already stressed natural resources and ecosystems.”

Sameer Barde, assistant secretary general, retail, at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) understands the urgent need for the retailers to think green but says the concept is still nascent in the country.

“In India, the sustainability drive can be restricted to a few big niche players as most chains here are still making losses. They first need to gain maturity in business to be able focus on other such initiatives. International retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco have global initiatives conducive for the environment but it’s still early days for India,” Barde said.

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