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USGBC Takes Wraps Off LEED for Retail Program

Top Green Building Certifier Also Unveils New LEED Volume Program To Streamline and Reduce Cost of Certification
December 1, 2010
One of the big highlights from the Greenbuild Conference & Expo in Chicago was the official unveiling of the LEED for Retail program by the U.S. Green Building Council. Tested and shaped by retailers and shopping center owner/developers in a pilot program launched in 2007, the new certification is expected to make it much easier for retailers to gain LEED designations by recognizing the unique design and construction needs of this property type.

By rolling out the new program for retailers, USGBC hopes to encourage more retailers to integrate green building design, construction and operation into their new stores and retail interior and build-out projects.

"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," said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President of LEED, USGBC.

According to USGBC, nearly 100 retailers and franchisees, including Bank of America, Best Buy, Chipotle, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Kohl’s, LL Bean, McDonald’s, Pizza Fusion, Starbucks and Target, participated in the pilot program.

Also launched at Greenbuild was the LEED Volume Program, a new certification program created to streamline the LEED certification process and make it faster and more manageable for "high-volume" property developers such as national retailers, hospitality providers and local, state and federal governments.

By incorporating a prototype-based approach, the LEED Volume program is expected to enable franchise retailers, hotel owners and others to certify a design concept and have subsequent stores built with those specs earn LEED certification faster and at a lower cost than through individual building reviews.

"With Volume, we were able to streamline the LEED certification process and, by extension, even our own internal design and construction processes," said Gina Edner, Associate Director of Environmental Sustainability for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, a participant in the Volume pilot program. "We now have a comprehensive LEED roadmap."

More than 60 Starwood hotels across almost all nine brands are pursuing LEED certification.

"The LEED Volume Certification Program simplifies that process and dramatically increases the incentive for retailers like us to pursue certification," added Gary Saulson, Director of Corporate Real Estate, PNC Financial Services Group, which has more than 70 of its projects certified under the LEED Volume Program.

The program is a new direction for USGBC, which acknowledged that companies and organizations are best equipped to identify their projects' design uniformities and similarities. By allowing owners to define the criteria for grouping similar buildings and the prototype LEED credits they plan to pursue, USGBC is introducing a fair amount of flexibility to the LEED certification process.

USGBC also said the Volume approach facilitates bulk purchasing and advance ordering of materials, reduced consultancy requirements, more efficient internal processes, greater speed to market, and more precise documentation of corporate sustainability efforts.

Looking forward to 2011, USGBC said it will introduce Volume LEED certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.
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