Special Feature

Net zero and Next Gen Living Centres – building towards a responsible, sustainable future

Next Gen Living Centre Team

This article by Varun Nair, General Manager Operations and Environment at Scentre Group, forms part of a special sustainability feature, which was first published in SCN‘s – September/October Mini Guns edition. Premium subscribers can view the full digital magazine here.

Scentre Group’s 42 Westfield Living Centres are considered community hubs, integral to the daily lives of communities across Australia and New Zealand. Some 20 million people live in close proximity to a Westfield centre, making us some of the most familiar and frequented destinations in both markets.

Leading our business with a responsible, sustainable mindset is important to our stakeholders and intrinsic to the way we run our business. It is guided by the four pillars of our sustainable business framework, encompassing our community, people, environment and economic performance.

It is fundamental to fulfilling ‘Our Purpose’: ‘creating extraordinary places, connecting and enriching communities’ and delivering on ‘Our Plan’ to create the places more people choose to come, more often, for longer.

Our focus across 2020 was on the optimisation of asset efficiency, a key strategic pillar of our net zero emissions commitment. Our facilities teams’ resilience was evident as we maintained this focus during the disruption of COVID-19 and partial centre operations.

In 2020, we announced our target to achieve Net Zero (Scope 1 and 2) Emissions by 2030 across our wholly-owned portfolio and agreed a pathway, including the key initiatives1, to achieving this. We’ve recently announced an interim target to achieve 50% of this target by 2025.

We’ve committed to the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and continue to enhance our public disclosures against the framework. 

In 2020, we completed transitional risk scenario analysis aligned with published 1.5 and 2°C reference scenarios and updated our portfolio asset level climate exposure and vulnerability assessment work from 2018.

We improved our performance on key investor surveys during 2020, moving into the leadership band of Carbon Disclosure Project with an A- score and recognised as a Sector Leader for Development by GRESB.

At a centre level, we generated more than 8,000MWh of electricity from our solar installations across five of our Westfield Living Centres – Westfield Marion, Westfield Plenty Valley, Westfield Carousel, Westfield Kotara and Westfield Coomera. We are continuing to roll out on-site solar as we assess off-site renewable energy procurement opportunities. 

We also announced that our New Zealand portfolio will be powered by 100% renewable electricity from January 2022.

This momentum is building toward the future of Westfield Living Centres. What we like to refer to as ‘Next Gen Living Centres’; a concept we’ve begun rolling out across our portfolio.

A next gen living centre is a safe, comfortable and operationally efficient centre that is digitally connected and adaptable; meeting customers, business partners, communities and our people’s needs.

Our first initiative under this project was focused on energy optimisation of our building management systems.

By centrally analysing data from multiple external sources as well as our Westfield Living Centres, we’re able to generate energy insights that can be actioned remotely or communicated easily to facilities teams on-site.

The technology also allows for fine-tuning of plant and equipment for improved performance and helps to improve the internal environment for customers, our people and business partners.

Throughout 2020, our Next Gen Living Centres reduced their electricity usage by 10,370MWh compared to 2019, with every centre achieving above our 7.5% reduction target (taking out any operational impacts from COVID). These savings are the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of more than 1,500 average Australian households2.

Westfield Doncaster is a Next Gen Living Centre

The Analytics Platform reviews about 60,000 individual data points from 11 of our connected centres every 15 minutes. It then automatically generates insights, which our central analytics team reviews and helps action, optimising building systems and helping our teams realise energy saving opportunities. We believe having access to accurate data and analysing it in such detail over time provides opportunities that would otherwise not be available.

Looking forward to the next two years, we’re planning for all of our Westfield Living Centres to have remote real-time visibility of key operational data that will be reviewed centrally to provide welcome and meaningful insights to our teams.

We see this as essential to our focus on asset efficiency, a primary pillar of our net zero pathway.

1 Scentre Group 2020 Responsible Business Report
2 yourhome.gov.au/energy 

About the author

Varun Nair

Varun Nair, General Manager Operations and Environment, Scentre Group

Varun leads the facilities management team across Scentre Group’s Westfield Living Centre portfolio, accountable for improving the energy efficiency of each of our centres including applying technology solutions that help to reduce our environmental impact.

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