The Oaks Shopping Centre, CA

Transforming The Oaks Shopping Center Into an ESG Exemplar

The goal to achieve carbon neutrality — and zero waste — by 2030

Asset name: The Oaks (Common areas)
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
BREEAM Very Good (63.3%) and BREEAM Good (42.2%)
Building type/Function: Shopping Retail Center
Version: BREEAM In-use
Client: Macerich
Assessor: UL Solutions
BREEAM standard & version: BREEAM In-Use USA Parts 1&2

BREEAM USA logo in blue

The Oaks Shopping Centre Logo

About the Asset

The Oaks is a two-level, 1.3 million-square-foot indoor/outdoor shopping center in Thousand Oaks, CA. Located in close proximity to the Macerich headquarters, the development has served as a successful pilot study for certain of the company’s sustainability strategies, demonstrating the impact of key ESG and sustainability initiatives and tactics firsthand to guide decision-making for the remainder of the company’s robust portfolio.

The Oaks was originally built in 1978, with renovations completed in 1993 and again in 2007. In 2016, the property became the first asset in the U.S. to achieve BREEAM certification, speaking to the forward-thinking sustainable strategy and leading industry position Macerich holds. The certification footprint focused on the common areas of the asset, totaling 854,021 square feet.

Busy shopping centre with different shops and people walking

Overview of strategy and environmental challenges

As a market leader, Macerich is committed to doing more to reduce energy, waste and water consumption across its properties and continues to certify its assets as part of a thoughtful, holistic ESG strategy. In choosing BREEAM specifically for certification of The Oaks, Macerich considered several points of alignment between the company’s overall strategy and the BREEAM approach — including compatibility with retrofits, which is critical among the retail asset class that commonly deals with existing infrastructure; recognition of double materiality; promotion of stakeholder education; and a focus on transparency.

Macerich maintains a sharp focus on double materiality, which considers the intersection of financial responsibility and the good stewardship of natural resources. Further, the company is committed to achieving carbon neutrality across its entire asset portfolio — with a goal of achieving carbon-neutral operations by just 2030 — an initiative well supported by BREEAM’s science-backed assessment of building performance and progress toward reaching net zero emissions.

Pursuing BREEAM certification is indicative of Macerich’s commitment to sustainability and accountability, and the standard was an excellent fit for an innovative existing shopping center like The Oaks. Ultimately, through the ongoing use of the BREEAM In-Use assessment standard, Macerich can continue to accurately monitor and boost operating efficiency to maintain and improve asset benchmarking and reporting.

Why choose BREEAM?

Macerich understands that the road to sustainable performance and carbon neutrality is a team effort within each of its properties, and the company has utilized the BREEAM standard as an education tool to ensure all stakeholders understand Macerich’s position in the journey toward sustainability and how progress is measured.

The facility team at The Oaks implements a strong focus on sustainability and actively engages in conversations surrounding successful strategies, areas of growth, and key challenges with the wider Macerich team. Pursuing BREEAM certification specifically has been a catalyst for dialogue and discourse with those deploying Macerich’s overarching ESG strategies daily, and this process has been significant in fueling insight-driven improvements on-site.

From a wider portfolio perspective, Macerich is tasked with the notable challenge of transforming and retrofitting existing infrastructure rather than delivering new builds already designed for sustainable operation. The company continues to rise to the challenge to implement clean technologies and deploy sustainable best practices to deliver healthy assets that maintain long-term value.

How has the BREEAM assessment benefited the project?

Macerich has a goal to achieve carbon neutrality — and zero waste — by 2030,
20 years ahead of the goal established by the Paris Climate Agreement. BREEAM’s In-Use certification standard offers valuable tools for Macerich to assess and offer objective reporting on our progress toward that goal, property by property.

Ryan Knudson, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Macerich.

As part of its ESG program, Macerich generally avoids ground-up construction projects within its asset portfolio and instead seeks out existing infrastructure for redevelopment. Not only does this approach take advantage of the company’s existing high-quality real estate; it also considers the impact of embodied carbon and other waste associated with new construction.

In serving as the only assessment platform in the world that uses science-backed metrics and standards to guide sustainable improvements and upgrades for existing buildings, BREEAM has proven a critical tool in Macerich’s ESG toolbox, measuring and reporting on sustainability practices and performance at the asset, including:

 

Energy:
The Oaks features 100% LED lighting with control protocols in use to minimize energy consumption and lower the building’s carbon footprint without any impact on the shopping experience.

Additionally, 20% of the building’s energy consumption comes from 6,000 solar panels located on the facility’s roof, producing 1,652 kW of power. In common areas and mall offices, The Oaks also boasts integrated thermal controls that are regulated to save energy while still providing a comfortable environment.

 

Management:

At Macerich, there is a deep emphasis around stakeholder education and communication as part of an effective ESG strategy.

Internally, team members across the organization — from top executives through cross-disciplinary team members through The Oaks’ on-site management team — are equipped with the necessary information and resources to not only understand but support and help further sustainable strategy and performance at the company and asset levels.

Macerich has also established valuable partnerships with retail tenants to reduce the energy burden and building emissions generated on-site, working together with the relevant management, sustainability, and engineering teams to assess best practices, technologies, and initiatives for improved performance.

 

Resilience:
With a focus on double materiality, Macerich is thoughtful in making sustainable decisions that support the long-term financial health of assets.

Fiscal responsibility can be a complicated component to address in relation to a larger ESG strategy, but it is crucial for owners and operators to consider how their sustainable choices impact the financial health and viability of a building.

In taking this approach, Macerich is supporting its portfolio in the long term and actively combating the risk of asset stranding.

 

Resources:
Across its portfolio, Macerich has taken a vigorous approach to its goal of achieving zero waste by 2030. In addition to reducing solid waste overall, the company is implementing tactics to divert waste from the landfill through recycling, waste-to-energy and composting efforts.

The initiative requires close partnership with shopping center tenants, making it a true community effort. To date, the company has surpassed some of its initial waste reduction goals and set more ambitious goals.

Water:
In consideration of its location in Southern California, The Oaks implements water-saving tactics both inside the building and out, including advanced leak detection and drought-resistant flora and fauna.

The property boasts particularly water-efficient fittings, including waterless urinals, low-flow taps and technologies to reduce water use.

Transport:
The Oaks is well connected to the public transport network, providing customers with a range of sustainable transport alternatives.

What value does the certification bring to the development?

Every asset that receives BREEAM certification requires third-party performance validation by an expert consultant, lending to a more transparent and accountability-focused assessment process. This process can be especially pertinent for retail assets such as Macerich town centers, which often serve as social centers and community cornerstones, necessitating an open and honest line of communication surrounding goals at both the organizational and asset level — and Macerich’s progress against those goals.

Macerich town center with mountains in the background

Through its third-party validation, BREEAM has played a part in guiding Macerich as the company assesses operational performance and collects the most relevant, meaningful data to continue making progress toward its goals. Macerich leverages the insights gained via BREEAM assessment to address any gaps between an asset’s performance commitments and actual operation.

About BREEAM

We’re proud to be working with a market leader like Macerich to demonstrate the possibilities for continued sustainable improvement within the retail market, and The Oaks is a shining example of the successes that can be achieved through a thoughtful, comprehensive ESG strategy. We look forward to seeing how the measured benefits Macerich has achieved will influence other leaders in the sector as Macerich continues to utilize BREEAM certification to provide transparency and accountability for performance.

Breana Wheeler, US Director of Operations at BRE.

BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment methodology for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It recognizes and reflects the value in higher performing assets across the built environment lifecycle, from new construction, through performance in operation, to refurbishment. BREEAM does this through third party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance, using standards developed by BRE.

This means BREEAM certified developments are more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments.

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