REI building fourth distribution center to support growth

Marianne Wilson
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REI will open a 400,00-sq.-ft. distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., in fall 2023.

REI Co-op is putting a new distribution center that will operate as a zero-waste facility.

The specialty outdoor retailer is building a 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., to support its continued growth on the East Coast and in the Midwest and South. Expected to open in fall 2023, the building and its operations will proactively address the employee experience, community engagement and environmental impact, according to REI.  Al. Neyer is the retailer’s architect and general contractor partner. 

Situated on 41 acres in Wilson County, the facility will be one mile from I-40 and three miles from downtown Lebanon. The location will considerably reduce shipping times to fulfill customers' online purchases and be able to support more than 70 REI stores. Nearly 5.6 million REI members live in the service area of the new distribution center.

The Lebanon facility will complement REI's three existing distribution centers, which are located in Bedford, Pa.; Goodyear, Ariz.; and Sumner, Wash. The Bedford and Goodyear locations are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The Goodyear facility, which opened in 2016, achieved LEED Platinum certification—the highest level in the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) green building rating system. It is the first distribution center in the country to achieve both LEED Platinum certification and Net Zero Energy. 

"Opening a distribution center in Lebanon strategically positions REI for growth and complements the service areas of our other distribution facilities,” said Bill Best, REI VP of supply chain. “Most importantly, the center will reflect the co-op's values by putting people first and apply a new standard in fighting the climate crisis. We have a strong local partner that understands REI's brand, sustainability ethos and interest to create healthier communities."

The new distribution center is being constructed with industry-leading sustainability and technology features that complement REI’s Arizona site. The design is centered on a productive and healthy built environment that intentionally takes into consideration how employees work, rest and connect to nature. The building will address the entire life cycle of carbon impacts by using 100% renewable, 100% electric energy and operating as a zero-waste facility. REI will also be an active participant in regional renewable energy solutions.

“Al. Neyer's integrated team of developers, licensed architects, and construction management experts are excited to partner with REI to deliver a best-in-class distribution center that will set an important precedent for sustainability in Greater Nashville and beyond," stated Justin Hartung, Al. Neyer, VP of design-build. "Our team has been working closely with REI over the past year and a half to develop this leading facility that will not only be a great place to work and a great addition to the community, but will also make a lasting positive impact on the environment."

REI actively partners with nonprofits across the nation to steward and maintain local trails and public lands to connect more people to the outdoors. During the last five years, it has invested more than $440,000 in Tennessee-based land agencies and nonprofit partners

REI launched the Cooperative Action Fund earlier this year, a community-supported public charity designed to harness the collective power of the co-op's 20 million members and 15,000 employees to build a more just, equitable and inclusive outdoor culture. Three Tennessee groups received grants in the fund's first investment round.

"Even before we are fully operational, we look forward to becoming an involved partner in Lebanon and beyond," adds Best.

In addition, REI's adventure travel company has operated guided trips in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 14 years. The company has six multi-day adventure trips through the park with backpacking, hiking, multisport and rafting itineraries. The destination is consistently one of the co-op's most popular in the national park system. In the last five years, REI has hosted more than 2,800 guests in the Great Smokies, many of those were first-time visitors.

REI isthe nation’s largest retail coop, with more than 20 million members. It has 174 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia