EUROPE- Bre Global, a property research and consultancy group specialising in the assessment of the environmental and social impact of property developments, has launched what is said to be the first pan-European retail sustainability standard - a ‘green' code of practice designed to ensure commercial development projects have minimal impact on the environment.

The new standard, which is supported by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), is initially aimed principally at shopping complexes across Europe initially and is undergoing a pilot assessment period at two retail park projects in Germany and Europe, the results of which will be incorporated into the standard later this year.

Bre Global believes the code will provide evidence to investors that major retail projects are sustainable with solid green credentials for long-term investment potential.

"The pilots will give us invaluable data to ensure we have a very robust methodology that is flexible and can be adapted to a truly pan-European application," said Martin Townsend, director at Bre Global.

With the world currently looking at climate change and ‘green' practices across all major industries and sectors, the standard considers a long list of criteria to determine how well retail complexes function from a sustainable perspective.

"The standard gives us and our stakeholders insight into the performance of our buildings encompassing a broad range of environmental issues, including use, energy use, water, building materials, waste, occupant health and well-being, transport, and pollution," said Derk Welling, manager of sustainability, environment and energy at Redevco, the Dutch retail property investment specialists.

This European standard is the latest voluntary code of practice the UK-based Bre Trust, Bre Global's parent, has drafted.

"We looked at a number of international sustainability standards and chose to support Bre's because of strong existing awareness of its high environmental standards and its adaptability to local markets," commented Jaap Gillis, chairman of ICSC's European advisory board and chief operating officer at Redevco.

"Developers are increasingly working across European boundaries and they want a common methodology that they can roll out across all their operations," he added.

Bre Global said it worked closely with ICSC's own Sustainability Working Group and independent environmental consultants across Europe in developing the standard.