With Green Star ratings one of the first requests from commercial builders, and the cost of materials increasing due to pandemic-lead shortages, it’s easy for your new retail fit-out to creep up in cost. However, with some clever planning and a clear vision, you can identify where to spend and where to save when it comes to developing your retail space, sustainably.

Tip one: Know your vision 

You may know your product inside and out, but what does it mean to represent that product in a retail space? A clear vision for the bricks-and-mortar experiences your customer will have – from the emotional feeling they have in the store, to the colourways you wish to wrap them in as they shop – will ensure you get it right, first time. This eliminates waste alongside the risk of a new fit-out just a few years after opening.

Tip two: Think long-term

One of the biggest over-looked considerations when fitting out a retail space is the ongoing maintenance required. Additional power tools or chemicals required to keep a space looking as amazing as it does when doors open for the first time can wreak havoc with your eco-credentials. Not to mention additional costs that come with maintenance fees.

Instead, invest in alternate products with eco-credentials that are easy to maintain and look fantastic. For example, Trex timber-alternative composite decking is able to be cleaned with just a sweep or warm water wash instead of being re-stained and sanded back like traditional timber flooring. And artificial plants made from a reputable reseller have a low carbon foot-print.

Tip three: Make the best base 

To create a timeliness aesthetic and save resources on the constant refurbishments that can come with a too-trendy design, choose natural, eco-friendly materials for floors and walls, such as simple bamboo, cork, timber-looking wood plastic composite or concrete. 

Your customers will instantly react to a store’s atmosphere and design – it should be inviting, reflecting your brand and allowing for easy seasonal promotion updates without big expenditures.

Tip four: Use recycled materials and off-cuts

Pre-loved furniture or base materials can be purchased for cheap while adding character and charm to your space. Once your base fit-out is completed, consider what pre-loved items could bring flair to your venue, sustainably.

Vintage photo frames with product R&D sketches within can help tell your brand story, outdoor pots and vases re-painted in your brand colours can add intrigue, fabric swatches can add texture and shading to a space, and low-wattage lamps instead of overhead lighting can create a welcome environment for your customers.

Tip five: Be energy efficient

Speaking of low-wattage lamps, choosing energy efficient lighting can seriously lower your eco footprint while also reducing your power bills. There is a variety of ways to be more energy efficient, from using the flow of natural light through large open windows and skylights to add natural light, and ensure these can be shaded with sun-control louvres to reduce sunlight (heat) and thus, air conditioner consumption, in summer.

For powered lighting, energy efficient options such as automated timers, motion detectors, LED bulbs and low-wattage ambient lighting will all add to your sustainability creds while reducing cost. You can even choose energy efficient-rated appliances for everything from staff kitchen amenities through to internal air-conditioning or heating if you’re not within a centre.

Rod Schiefelbein is Australian market manager at Trex Company.