Project Management Institute

Green is the new black

LoureShopping Centre in Loures, Portugal

LoureShopping Centre in Loures, Portugal

by Kelley Hunsberger photos courtesy of Sonae Sierra

LoureShopping Centre

in Loures, Portugal, was not your everyday mall project. The €67 million shopping haven is home to 121 stores, 26 restaurants, a seven-screen cinema and 2,100 parking places. Yet, what sets this project apart is the developer's focus on the environment as a competitive advantage. It is the first shopping center in Portugal to gain the International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 certification for controlling and improving environmental performance.

“We are in no doubt that certification makes a positive contribution to our image and increases customer trust,” says Manuel Guerra, project manager at Lisbon, Portugal-based Sonae Sierra, which developed the mall. “But at the same time it reduces costs and increases our asset value, in addition to the obvious reduction in our business's environmental impact.”

A Day in the Park

The project began in September 2003 and right from the start, the focus was on going green. Sixty percent of LoureShopping's 20.5-acre site was dedicated to public space—which the team turned into a park because of the strong residential presence in the area and lack of abundant grassy areas.

Creating the park, however, turned out to be a challenge. “Sonae Sierra had never before developed a green park in one of its shopping center projects,” Mr. Guerra says. After learning about the subject, the team turned over the job to landscape designer Hipólito Bettencourt.

Shaded by nearly 1,000 trees, the 12.35-acre park surrounds the center and includes a walking trail, fitness course, bike path and venue for hosting outdoor events. The park also is intersected by a creek with five wooden bridges that give visitors access to the entire area.

“The main objective of the park is not to increase the number of visits, but to satisfy all the needs of visitors in terms of shopping and leisure,” Mr. Guerra says.

Plan, Do, Check, Act

To meet ISO 14001 requirements, the project team used Sonae Sierra's Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology. Team members began by classifying all aspects of the project based on their possible impact on the environment. “In the development phase, those are usually related to land use and emissions to air, land and water,” says Susana Sabino, environmental coordinator at the company.

Attaining the ISO standard meant all staff members were required to undergo environmental management training. The standard also mandated the project team implement a process for identifying and mitigating any potential emergencies.

During the project's construction phase, Sonae Sierra followed best practices outlined in ISO's environmental management system (EMS). Managed by a central team responsible for the environment of new projects, the system is designed to minimize the project's impact on the environment and encourage continuous improvement.

“[EMS] optimizes such major aspects as integration into the surroundings and the choice of building materials,” says Ms. Sabino. “In practice, this strategy enables us to establish the best environmental practices in such fields as energy savings, water quality and consumption management, air-quality monitoring, selective waste separation and recycling.”


EMS procedures regulated:

  • The type of air-conditioning equipment used—taking into account energy and noise efficiency
  • The types of construction materials used—all wood must come from certified origins, all paints must be free of lead and all lamps must be free of mercury

Open for Business


that retailing axiom about “location, location, location,” but Sonae Sierra also knew LoureShopping Centre had to be accessible to all its customers, including the handicapped.

The team used the company's global accessibility management system, which outlines procedures and regulations throughout the project's life cycle. During the design and construction of the center, the team had to “solve all possible problems with accesses, vertical transport, toilets, handrails, type of pavement, signing, etc.,” Mr. Guerra says.


The company aims to be an example in the wider world of shopping centers by demonstrating that the inclusion of environmental and social issues in business can, in fact, lead to improved competitiveness and economic performance.

—Álvaro Portela, Sonae Sierra, Lisbon, Portugal

  • The number of waste-separation and recycle rooms needed per number of tenants.

The management system also required Sonae Sierra to use the latest waste management equipment and dictated how the different types of waste is separated and sent for recycling. The center's air quality is ensured via ventilation and air-conditioning systems subject to strict maintenance and inspection routines. “All of these systems and elements are regularly assessed by external audits, enabling us to ascertain the efficiency of our procedures,” Ms. Sabino says.

The Only Way

For Sonae Sierra, environmentally conscious building practices are ingrained in the corporate philosophy.

“Sonae Sierra is convinced that nowadays a business leader also has to be a leader in environmental matters,” says Álvaro Portela, the developer's chief executive officer. “The company aims to be an example in the wider world of shopping centers by demonstrating that the inclusion of environmental and social issues in business can, in fact, lead to improved competitiveness and economic performance.”

The company solidified that commitment in 1998 with a plan that calls for Sonae Sierra to:

  • Recognize eco-efficiency as a key management tool in improving the company's competitiveness
  • Implement and operate its shopping and leisure centers in an environmentally responsible way
  • Continually improve the environmental performance of its products, processes and business activities

    We believe that this is the only sustainable way of doing business and that all developers in the future will have to pursue this standard.

    —Álvaro Portela, Sonae Sierra

  • Ensure compliance with environmental legislation and regulatory acts, and adopt environmentally aware practices in those instances where legislation does not currently exist
  • Adopt a framework of environmental objectives and targets, including the improvement of environmental information and resources
  • Promote details of the company's environmental policy and make details of it available to the public and the company's stakeholders.

“We believe that this is the only sustainable way of doing business and that all developers in the future will have to pursue this standard,” Mr. Portela says. “We hope to be an example and continue to be in the front of the innovation in this area.”

The plan seems to be working. LoureShopping Centre opened in 2005 and in April of this year was named as a finalist for the Urban Land Institute's Awards for Excellence European competition. PM

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