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USGBC's LEED for Retail and LEED Volume are Great Next Steps

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The big news in our industry from the U.S. Green Building Council at last week's Greenbuild Conference in Chicago was the official unveiling of the LEED for Retail and LEED Volume designations.

These programs have been in the works for years as retailers and developers have helped shape the guidelines. The programs will now make it much easier for retailers to gain LEED designations. The LEED for Retail sets up standards designed for the retail sector that take into account the way retail spaces are used and how they differ from other building types. Perhaps more importantly, the volume program will enable retailers to have a design concept certified and then every subsequent store built with those specs will automatically be LEED certified without having to redo the entire LEED process.

The LEED for Retail rating system recognizes the unique design and construction needs of this market sector, enabling forward-thinking retailers to integrate green building design, construction, and operation into ground-up construction, retail interior and build-out projects. Nearly 100 national and independent retailers and franchisees, including Bank of America, Best Buy, Chipotle, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Kohl's, LL Bean, McDonald's, Pizza Fusion, Starbucks and Target, have participated in the pilot program since its launch in 2007, providing valuable feedback to inform the rating system's development.

In today's market, savvy retailers see the value in building designing and constructing environments that enhance the customer experience, nurture a more productive employee base, while saving precious resources,: said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President of LEED, USGBC. "LEED for Retail builds on the strengths of other commercial LEED rating systems while taking special care to address the distinct needs of retail spaces, from occupancy demands to waste streams, energy and water use."

Also launched at Greenbuild was the LEED Volume Program, a certification program that was created to streamline and make the LEED Certification process faster and more manageable for high-volume property developers such as national retailers, hospitality providers and local, state and federal governments. Utilizing a prototype-based approach, the program enables large-scale organizational builders to deliver a consistent end product, thereby earning LEED certification faster and at a lower cost than would be possible with individual building reviews.

"With a more cost-effective, streamlined process, the largest users of LEED are now able to make a larger impact on their building portfolio without compromising the technical rigor LEED has come to stand for," continued Horst. "This program enables us to move further faster to our goals of green buildings for all within a generation."

Our sister publication "Retail industry leaders recognize the powerful financial and environmental impact to be had through their sustainability activities," added Adam Siegel, vice president of sustainability & retail operations for RILA. "The increasing emphasis on building LEED is emblematic of the industry's expanding and ever-evolving sustainability efforts."

The previously available LEED designations were never a great fit for retailers. So now having specifically designed designations for the sector should help speed the pace of the industry's adoption of green building standards, something that is increasingly important to both landlords and tenants according to an annual Green Building Survey conducted by NREI, the U.S. Green Building Council and Retail Traffic.

It's also key because now developers and retailers each have their own set of guidelines to work against in gaining LEED certification. Developers can work with the existing programs for New Construction, Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell and Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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