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Retailer Distribution Centers Lead the Way for LEED Certification

Companies that target customers interested in the outdoors are leading the way in ‘green’ operations, reports Multichannel Merchant.

As an example, Patagonia constructed its Reno, Nevada, service center as a green building in 1996, but targeted the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification for its facility expansion in 2006. The company recycled 93 percent of construction waste during the remodel.

In addition, Patagonia’s electrical energy is supplied by renewable power and improved energy performance has saved the company 47 percent in energy costs, according to the article. The company also recycles 95 percent of all in-house waste.

Other examples cited in the article include Recreational Equipment (REI), Hanesbrands, and Vitacost.com.

Outdoor gear co-op retailer REI built a 525,000-sq.-ft. distribution center three years ago in Bedford, Pa., which became LEED-silver certified in 2008, reports Multichannel Merchant. The building cuts energy use by more than 33 percent.

In 2009, REI received LEED certification for its green building prototype stores in Boulder, Colo. and Round Rock, Texas as well as for its store in Lincoln Park, Ill.

To date, six REI facilities are LEED certified, totaling over 690,000 square feet, or approximately 15 percent of REI’s total square footage.

Apparel manufacturer/marketer Hanesbrands opened its 1.3 million-sq.-ft. distribution center in Perris, Calif., in January 2009 and received LEED certification in February, according to the article. It claims the largest single free-standing LEED New Construction certified warehouse/distribution building in the world.

The building’s energy use is 19 percent lower than for a typical warehouse of its size thanks to a host of energy-efficient measures including natural skylighting, motion-detection lighting, roof insulation, and an HVAC system that uses chilled and hot water.

Hanesbrands also reduced its water use by nearly 40 percent through low-water toilet fixtures and low-water landscaping.

Tax incentives and utility rebates also make the decision easier to move to sustainable buildings. For example, health and wellness products seller Vitacost.com received a rebate from the state’s power utility company when it implemented green building initiatives for its new 155,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Las Vegas, reports Multichannel Merchant.

But it’s not just retailers that are targeting LEED certification to green their operations. Food companies including General Mills, Kraft Foods, and Smuckers also have earned LEED certification for their distribution centers over the past few years.

As an example, General Mills announced in May that its new 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center in Social Circle, Ga., has achieved LEED Gold certification, making it the largest Gold certified building in the U.S., according to the company.

USGBC recognized an 800,000-square-foot Kraft Foods distribution center near Chicago for its advanced environmental design in 2008. Building improvements completed under the LEED Gold Certification program for Commercial Interiors made the facility Kraft’s first distribution center to receive LEED certification and the largest facility of its kind in the world to achieve LEED-CI Gold Certification at the time.

Smucker Natural Foods’ Chico, Calif., distribution center generates 94 percent of its own energy. The 157,000 square foot warehouse, which recently earned LEED Gold status, has two solar arrays, as well as methane turbines and natural gas microturbines.

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