Retailers worldwide are making their stores more environmentally sustainable, a strategy that is good for the earth — and also good for business, says a newly released U.S. Green Building Council report.
According to the report, titled LEED in Motion, there are roughly 12,500 retail spaces around the world that are built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards — which are set by the USGBC. In the U.S. there are 5,862 such projects, encompassing about 151 million gross square feet. California leads the way, with 962 LEED projects, followed by New York, Florida and Texas.
Crystals at CityCenter, in Las Vegas — one of the world's largest LEED-certified projects
“Now, perhaps more than ever before, consumers demand transparency and responsibility from the brands they support,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, in a statement cited in the report. “The retail sector is no exception, and many retailers recognize the importance of developing healthy, sustainable spaces that both delight their customers and support the larger community. LEED provides these businesses with a powerful tool to meet their commitments and to attract consumers.”
Going green makes good business sense: About 90 percent of global consumers say they expect the brands they patronize to support social and environmental issues, and an estimated 68 million American adults base their purchases on such personal, social and environmental values, and they will spend about 20 percent more on sustainable products, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
“Retail spaces are woven into neighborhoods and communities, and the retail sector comprises a significant portion of the U.S. economy,” says the report. In just the first quarter of this year, retail in the U.S. was responsible for some $1.9 billion in gross output, amounting to about 5 percent of the total across all sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Retail supports one out of every four jobs in the U.S., according to the National Retail Federation.
The LEED-certified REI store in Portland, Ore. (Eckert & Eckert Photography)
LEED certification is available for new and existing retail buildings, and for new and existing interior spaces. Retail owners and operators can learn more about LEED and the certification process online, at USGBC.org.
By Edmund Mander