It’s all in the detail: Building a sustainable retail fit-out

BY Australian Retailers Association
29 April 2019

With a little planning and foresight, it’s easy to showcase your company’s eco-creds within its bricks-and-mortar store.

There are a lot of considerations when fitting out a new retail space. How customers will use the floor, the overall design aesthetic and staff maintenance are all important factors during planning. In a recent trends forecast by The Media Store, it was noted that consumers expect their favourite brands to stand for something in today’s day and age. With consumers wanting more from their retailers – including corporate social responsibility initiatives – how can retailers create a space that positively impacts everyone?

Sustainable building within the retail space takes extensive planning. The below tips will help you get started in developing a sustainable retail fit-out.

1: Create a modern but timeless base design

Consumers instantly react to a store’s atmosphere and design. It needs to be inviting, reflect the brand and allow for easy seasonal re-decorating or promotion updates without big expenditures. To create a timeliness aesthetic and save money and 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 timber-looking wood plastic composite, bamboo, cork or concrete. Then, play with soft-furnishings to bring new life to the space as seasons change. These furnishings could include coloured or printed room curtains, promotional flyer holders and pot plants. Recycled materials have a much lower environmental impact, so consider decorating with re-purposed items, such as refurbished furniture, artwork and fabrics.

2: Become more energy efficient

Reducing power bills is a hot topic for many retailers and there are several interior design elements that can help minimise your overall energy consumption. Reduce artificial lighting by building fit-outs that welcome lots of natural light with features such as large windows or skylights. Select energy-efficient lighting options, such as LED bulbs, low-wattage ambient lighting, automated timers and motion detectors. In addition, consider installing automated air-conditioning and heating, as well as energy efficient-rated appliances. Sufficient insulation is also key to lowering energy bills, especially on particularly hot or cold days. Use wool, cotton or cellulose insulation in your roof and walls for a toxic-free, eco-friendly option.

3: Choose sustainable outdoor building materials

If your retail fit-out includes an outdoor space, consider a wood-alternative decking material like composite decking, which uses reclaimed plastic and wood scrap that would otherwise end up in Iandfills. Trex decking, for example, is made from 95% recycled mate­­­rials and it provides the look and feel of real wood without the environmental impact of de-forestation. Unlike wood, high-performance composite decking requires no sanding or staining – meaning less chemicals, also less time and money spent maintaining the space. Just an occasional soap and water cleaning is all that is needed to keep it looking like new for decades of customer enjoyment and appreciation.

4: Prevent waste through design

Due to the increasing cost of disposal, developing a fit-out waste management plan can be a significant way of increasing profits – and establishing a more sustainable store. Identify specific activities that will most effectively reduce waste and incorporate design features that make these activities happen more easily and quickly. For example, provide adequate space and storage for the segregation of waste to improve recycling efficiencies. Another great way to reduce waste is to eliminate the use of paper by incorporating digital displays – which brings a contemporary, tech-savvy look to the fit-out design.

Further to this, it’s important to be aware of the factory size that building materials are produced. If you design everything to factory size you can virtually eliminate waste in some areas of construction. For instance, Trex decking comes in convenient long lengths and is perfect for trimming the ends square before installation, ensuring minimal waste.

Adrian Mason is the founder of WCT Distributors and is the Western Australian distributor of Trex composite decking, the world’s #1 decking brand and inventor of timber-alternative composite decking. Learn more at



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Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $320 billion sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating, and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

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