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Superior Performance

BY Marianne Wilson

Two recently released studies confirm what sustainability advocates have been saying for some time: Green-certified buildings outperform their conventional counterparts across a wide variety of metrics, including energy saving, occupancy rates, sales price and rental rates.

A study by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) finds that new buildings certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system are, on average, performing 25% to 30% better than non-LEED certified buildings in terms of energy use. The study also demonstrates that there is a correlation between increasing levels of LEED certification and increased energy savings, with Gold and Platinum LEED-certified facilities reporting average energy savings approaching 50%.

“The NBI study confirms that newly constructed LEED-certified buildings use significantly less energy than their conventional counterparts, and that they perform better overall,” said Brendan Owens, VP, LEED Technical Development, USGBC.

In addition, the report underscores that monitoring a building’s ongoing operations and maintenance (as required in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program) is equally key.

“Buildings are complicated systems, and achieving and maintaining high performance is a process that requires the ongoing discipline and commitment to green practices,” Owens said.

Energy savings under the ENERGY STAR program are equally impressive. Buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation use an average of almost 40% less energy than average buildings and emit 35% less carbon.

A separate study, by CoStar Group, helps strengthen the business case for green buildings as financially sound investments. According to the findings, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 per square foot over non-LEED peers and have a 3.8% higher occupancy. Rental rates in ENERGY STAR buildings represent a $2.38 per square foot premium over comparable non-ENERGY STAR buildings and have a 3.6% higher occupancy.

Additionally, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors, LEED buildings are selling for an average of $171 more per square foot than their peers. ENERGY STAR buildings command $61 more per square foot.

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Michaels comps down for the quarter

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas Michaels Stores reported that total sales for the quarter were $847 million, a 1% increase from fiscal 2007 first quarter sales of $839 million. Same-store sales for the comparable 13-week period decreased 2.9%.

Ceo, Brian Cornell, said, “While our overall comps for the first quarter declined 2.9%, we were very encouraged with the sales of our kids and specialty craft categories, scrapbooking and frame and art supplies. Sales in April showed a reversal of trend with same-store sales up 3.1% on a strong increase in transactions. This positive sales and transaction performance gives us confidence that our new marketing and merchandising programs are connecting with our Michaels customers.”

For fiscal 2008, the company expects same-store sales growth  to be approximately flat given the current economic environment.

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Kirkland’s 1Q sales up 2.1%

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSON, Tenn. Kirkland’s reported that net sales for the first quarter ended May 3 increased 2.1% to $84.1 million from $82.3 million for the first quarter ended May 5, 2007. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 4.3% compared with an 18.8% comparable-stores sales decrease in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, for the 13-week period ended May 3, 2008, compared with a net loss of $7.5 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, in the 13-week period ended May 5, 2007.

Robert Alderson, Kirkland’s president and ceo, said, “The first quarter results reflect strong merchandising execution and the benefits of aggressive financial initiatives that have reduced our operating costs, improved cash flow and strengthened our liquidity. During the quarter, we experienced improved customer conversions as shoppers have reacted very favorably to our merchandise mix. The positive comparable-store sales and trimming of unproductive stores led to leveraging of occupancy and distribution costs. Combined with an improvement in merchandise margin and a year-over-year reduction in operating costs of almost $5 million, we were able to post a significant improvement in our pre-tax results.

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