New Stores are Certifiably ‘Green’
By Tom Ryan
In July, Office Depot joined a number of other retailers in opening its first “green” store in Austin. Pre-certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards by the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council), the store uses less energy and water in its daily operations, increases recycling and leaves a much smaller overall environmental footprint than the typical store of its size.
In addition to moral reasons, retailers are “going green” because consumers are demanding green and retailers are recognizing the public relations value. Sustainable design fits with other eco-efforts such as offering discounts to shoppers who bring their own canvas bags and using dry popcorn packing material that can be reused as bird feed. It also supports the sale of an ever-growing array of green products. Finally, many stores undertaking green projects claim there is significant cost-savings potential in the long-term from such projects, mainly from reducing energy and waste.
Office Depot’s 21,000-square-foot prototype features solar tracking skylights to maximize natural light, solar panels, and energy efficient T5 lighting. The store has a reflective white roof; a non-asphalt, concrete parking lot; a polished concrete floor; and carpets with recycled content. High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning units are part of the pre-certified design as well as an enhanced energy management system. Low flow urinals save on water. The finished building runs a recycling program for collection of corrugated cardboard, paper, plastics, and printer cartridges.
In merchandising, the interior walls feature educational vignettes about how the store and product assortment are both greener. Store associates have been trained to provide tips and recommendations to help customers learn how to green their own businesses. There is also an in-store recycling center for ink and toner cartridges, cell phones and rechargeable batteries.
“Office Depot has an environmental vision to increasingly buy green, be green and sell green,” said Yalmaz Siddiqui, director of environmental strategy for Office Depot. “While we have already achieved dramatic reductions in carbon emissions from our existing facilities, this new store takes us to a completely new level of energy efficiency, carbon reduction and waste reduction. The pre-certification of our prototype further establishes Office Depot as the green leader in the office products industry.”
Among other retailers, the most aggressive at pursuing green building appears to be Kohl’s, which last November said it was aiming for LEED certification for every store to break ground in 2008 – or more than 80 locations. Other companies working on LEED prototypes include Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Target, Home Depot, REI and Whole Foods.
Discussion Questions: Do you think sustainability will drive the majority of retail design and construction in the future? Should retailers of all stripes be aggressively embracing “green building”? Why or why not?
- Office Depot Unveils Company’s First “Green” Store – Office Depot
- Kohl’s Pursuing LEED Certification On More Than 80 New Locations – Kohl’s
- ‘Green’ building is expected to grow – The Los Angeles Times