Thinking Outside of the Box: Big Chains Getting Creative As They Pursue LEED

By: James McManus

October 4, 2012

photo credit: Tom Ackerman

Update: This store is actually in Tukwila, Washington, not Colorado.

It’s hard to imagine a LEED certified fast food chain or even a strip mall with LEED certified buildings. When we think LEED or any sort of green building, our minds jump to commercial, public, or educational facilities in urban areas. As the green building movement gains momentum, it needs to expand into new, nontraditional sectors and some big companies have already come up with innovative ways of incorporating sustainability into their growth.

Starbucks is trying to grow into new markets in a sustainable manner with a focus on localism, the environment, and lower costs. Anthony Perez, a senior concept design head at Starbucks, has recently started a pilot program to achieve these goals and these new locations look pretty darn cool.

Earlier this year Starbucks opened a new store in Colorado that is different from any Starbucks most of us have ever seen. The shell of the building is constructed from a shipping container; it has a drive through, no indoor seating space, and only 500 square feet for the 3 employees and coffee machines.  This store has achieved LEED certification because of its recycled content, the regionality of its materials, and its small carbon footprint. Starbucks’ goal is have these stores prefabricated and then clad with regional building materials to give it local flavor while still achieving their goal of a sustainable building program.

Some big box stores have taken on the challenge of achieving LEED for all of their new construction projects like Kohl’s Department Stores.  In 2011, Kohl’s had become the first U.S. company to earn Gold pre-certification using the “LEED for Retail: New Construction” rating system, and is targeting a total of 500 LEED-certified stores by 2015. Kohl’s is also focused on retrofitting its existing stores and has received the LEED Volume Pilot Program for Operations and Maintenance in 2011 and 100 existing stores have earned this O&M certification. The company is not only focusing on its buildings, but also how it powers these structures. The chain owns 100 solar power generators in 9 states and 100% of its electricity comes from green sources.

These companies will also be supporting the green products industry, sustainable energy companies, as well regional suppliers. From coffee to clothes, both of these companies are working to bring sustainability to their corporate models and LEED to the suburbs.

This post belongs to categories: Green Building, LEED

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