Country Road is redefining what is possible for retail store fitouts

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Redefining the retail experience through sustainable design is no small feat, but beloved Australian fashion brand, Country Road, is aiming to do exactly that.

The opening of the Chadstone, Melbourne store in 2019 saw not only Country Road’s first, but the first 5 Star Green Star – Interiors rated fashion retail store in the country. Certified by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and achieving a 5 Star Green Star – Interiors rating, indicating Australian Excellence, saw Country Road move to the forefront of what is possible when ambitious, sustainably minded teams come together.

The Green Building Council of Australia has been steadily working to lead the sustainable revolution of the built environment since its founding in 2002. With a focus on resilience, future readiness, and wellbeing, the holistic and voluntary rating system, Green Star, aims to help clients like Country Road achieve sustainability goals. The interiors rating tool is encouraging a new approach to design and construction of fitouts, one that highlights the selection of low-impact materials, improved indoor air quality, energy and water efficiency, and waste reductions, to name a few.

For Davina Dowle, Country Road Group’s Sustainability Specialist, the GBCA’s solid portfolio, matched with their well-developed system and shared aspirations, led to them turning to Green Star for support on this journey. Moreover, being an Australian rating system made Green Star the obvious choice.

“From the sourcing of fabrics to working with Australian manufacturers, the Country Road brand emphasises the importance of supporting endeavours native to Australia. The brand also always aspires to support local providers in as many aspects as possible. Therefore, while there are many other applicable validation and certification systems available globally, we opted for an Australian rating system.”

The process of targeting best practice in-store design begins with sourcing a team and materials that align with the requirements of achieving a Green Star rating, all while keeping a well-known brand’s aesthetic in the spotlight. For Davina, this meant a systematic approach to give the team every opportunity to succeed from the outset.

“We firstly provided a brief to our architectural team, who helped us align the requirements of Green Star with the aesthetic requirements of our Country Road stores. We then updated our material and finishes selections based on their research findings and worked extensively and directly with our existing local suppliers to secure internationally recognised third-party ratings for the bulk of our fixtures.”

From parquetry flooring rescued from old buildings, wall paneling made from recycled paper, carpet crafted from discarded fishing nets, and benchtops made with damaged Country Road ceramics and marble waste — the team left no stone unturned with what is possible in a sustainable and healthy retail renovation.

Brett Robinson, Senior Project Manager at One68 – the design consultants who worked with Country Road across several of its Green Star stores – said working closely with suppliers was key to meeting Country Road’s desired outcome.

“As a client, Country Road has very clear sustainability outcomes they need to achieve in order to receive the 5 Star Green Star – Interiors accreditation. As an example, for the Bayside project, One68 had to engage suppliers and sub-contractors who could meet these requirements, including:

Electrical – Meet GBCA’s Best Practise Guidelines for PVC

Paint – Paint’s with Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) were used

Timber – All timber used in the project were responsibly sourced (Chain of Custody certificates) CFC/chain of custody timbers and responsibly sourced materials

Circular – Re-using as much from old store fitouts as possible e.g., plywood, flooring levels, ceilings, walls etc.”

An important factor of the 5 Star Green Star – Interiors rating tool is the human element, something that remains a defining element of the success of any brick-and-mortar.

“The staff are integral to the process of certification as they help us gather store-specific evidence required for our Green Star submissions. They love feeling part of the process while also being in a vibrant space that is both healthier for them and more environmentally friendly,” explained Davina.

“The customers and visitors often compliment the staff on the store’s interior and are curious of the materials and finishes used. They are interested in the stories behind the material choice and frequently ask about the Green Star rating and want to understand the significance of a 5-star rating.”

Now with twelve, 5 Star Green Star – Interiors rated stores across the country and seven more targeting Australian Excellence with a 5 Star rating, it’s no wonder that this year Country Road won the NORA Sustainability award for best in-store sustainability innovation. For Davina and the team, winning the award confirmed to them the value of collaboration and efficiency when working towards a common goal.

“It was exciting to be shortlisted and a very happy moment when we won. It was an award that celebrated the whole team, and all the people who worked with us on our 5-star Green Star store fitouts.”

As for where Country Road is headed, simply put, more certified Green Star rated stores. But this time the team is targeting a 6 Star Green Star rating, which, as Davina agrees, is pushing the team to rethink several aspects of the current design concept.

“We see our achievements as a ‘work in progress’, particularly with the ambitious new Green Star Interiors tool (Green Star Fitouts) expected to be released soon,” said Davina.

“Country Road is currently working on its new standard Green Star approach, which will be key for the next batch of store certifications. This work is guiding our exploration of new initiatives that could be integrated into the design of our future stores. Finally, we are now also looking into the possibility of completing a Life Cycle Assessment of our interior fitout, with the aim to raise the bar of fashion retail fitout even higher.”


GBCA congratulates Country Road for its Green Star achievements to date and applauds the retailer for its leadership in creating healthier, more sustainable interiors. In early September, GBCA released a consultation paper on the next version of its tool for interiors – Green Star Fitouts, work made possible thanks to the support of GBCA’s Future Focus partners. Industry is encouraged to read the paper and provide feedback on how the tool could best serve its users into the future, both those who have never used the tool before, and those who are seasoned users. Find out more at

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