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The most recent studies show that a growing majority of retail owners and operators are incorporating green building strategies. Benefits include lower energy use (15%), lower operating costs (8% on average), higher asset value (7%), higher return on investment (8%), and increased traffic and sales (10%+). Retail owners also report higher (but unquantified) customer satisfaction.
The most common strategies among retail operators are energy efficiency and waste reduction. As important as these cost-reduction measures are, they overlook the potentially most valuable strategies—improving the quality of indoor and exterior environment. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) includes good daylight, fresh air, positive views, and connection to the outdoors, and all of these conditions can be extremely beneficial in a retail environment. More generally, the theory of biophilia holds that people have an innate attraction to natural conditions, and integrating natural elements into a design has tremendous benefits.
Research shows that natural light consistently and significantly boosts sales. Adding skylights to a store can increase sales by 40% while lowering energy costs by up to $0.66 per square foot. Similarly, shoppers judge businesses surrounded by trees and other plantings to be worthy of higher prices (as much as 25%).
Reportedly for every 1% rise in “dwell time,” there is a 1.3% increase in sales: the longer people linger, the more they buy, and at more than a one-to-one ratio. The goal, then, is to create an environment that people enjoy—in other words, a high IEQ. Designing for the most pleasing environment through optimal IEQ strategies could significantly boost sales well above average.