New Leed Options for Retailers

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Think green building is a fad? Think again, advised Justin Doak, manager, retail sector, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), during the “Building a Sustainable Portfolio Through Volume Certification” session at the Green4Retail (G4R) conference.

“Green building, a $10 billion industry in 2005, is expected to hit $60 billion in 2010,” Doak said.

Doak gave an overview of the USGBC’s voluntary green rating and certification program, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which addresses the complete life cycle of buildings.

“For retailers, the main drivers behind the use of LEED are verification of corporate social responsibility to shareholders and improved performance through reduced operational and maintenance costs,” Doak said.

Doak discussed the new LEED for Retail program, which is still in the pilot phase, with 95 individual retail project teams registered. The pilot is scheduled to end in fall 2008, and be ready for the market in 2009.

There will be two certification paths in the LEED for Retail program, with the path taken dependent on the nature of the project being certified. One path, (LEED for Retail-New Construction), is designed for new construction, typically freestanding buildings where the retailer controls the shell and interior. Certification is for the entire building. The other path (LEED for Retail-Commercial Interiors) is designed to certify a single tenant space.

Portfolio program: The new LEED for Retail program will launch simultaneously with the new Portfolio Program, a voluntary partnership that will allow building owners and managers from a cross section of industries to integrate green building design and operation as standard practice throughout their real estate portfolio.

A key component of the program, currently in the pilot phase, is Volume Certification, which seeks to make the LEED review and certification process more efficient and cost-effective for multiple projects pursuing LEED within a portfolio while maintaining LEED’s rigorous quality assurance.

There are three steps to Volume Certification. The first step is pre-certification of the prototype and achieving design and construction credits; the second step is initial certification, which involves complete certification and audit-level documents; and the third step is a maintenance period, which includes random spot checks, project summary data and verification letter.

“The sunset for Volume Certification is construction within two years,” Doak said. “After two years, the applicant is asked to recertify the prototype.”

Companies that are interested in eventually pursuing volume certification were urged to certify a typical project, evaluate their portfolio and prepare a strong quality-control and education plan.

“Before a company goes through the Portfolio Program, it must have one LEED-certified project,” Doak added.

Doak was joined by Dwayne Shmel, manager of development and architecture, Best Buy Co., a participant in the Portfolio Program pilot. Shmel gave an overview of Best Buy’s LEED-compliant prototype, which he said would become LEED-certified. As to why Best Buy is pursuing LEED certification, Shmel said several factors enter into it.

“LEED gives you street credibility,” he said. “Also, we want the LEED pedigree attached to our buildings. We believe in the future, LEED may become a code mandate.”

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