certification, but even among those that are, retail- ers tend to be reluctant to spend the extra money
that certification entails. Sustainable strategies,
therefore, tend to be less formal, with deciding factors for selecting a strategy varying widely. Some
retailers emphasize upfront costs while others are
more interested in ROI. Large projects continue to
be the most likely to be certified.
continued from page 19
3 The focus is on energy. Since energy-saving
strategies provide a measurable return, they are
often more attractive to retailers than other strategies such as sustainable products that may cost
more without a measurable return.
4 FSC continues to dominate product ecolabel
requests. Retail specifiers and purchasers now
tend to assume that the materials and products
used in their stores will include recycled content
and contain no added urea formaldehyde, but most
leave details up to the designer. Retailers seldom
specifically request that products carry ecolabels,
but when they do, the one mentioned most often
is FSC certification, a Forest Stewardship Council
designation that wood has been harvested sus-tainably.
5 Customer values matter. Green building strategies and in-store communication are being
informed by the values of brands’ target demographics. For instance, stores whose clientele prior-itizes air quality as important are telling customers
about their use of low-VOC paints and materials
without added urea formaldehyde.
TO RETAIL SUSTAINABILIT Y
Each market segment faces unique challenges
in greening its buildings. A. R.E.’s Sustainability
Council identified several characteristics of
retail projects that continue to present challenges to green building.
1 Payback time versus remodel schedule. The
cycle time for giving stores a fresh look is sometimes shorter than the time needed for investment
in some sustainable strategies to pay off.
2 The relative speed of retail projects. Even when
low-emission materials are used, contaminants
accumulated during shipping, storage, and installation can make it difficult for a retail project to
pass the air quality test for LEED IAQ 3. 2 in the
time frame between installation and occupancy.
Stores reportedly often fail the first time around,
and rapidly approaching grand openings can hinder the ability to pass retests, as time is needed
to flush out the space properly. Testing costs can
also affect the budget when unexpected retests
MILLER ZELL INC.
NANC Y EVERHART
AIA, CDT, LEED AP
AIA, LEED AP BD+C
RICHARD SHELLE Y
LEED AP BD+C, EDAC
This article is based on an A.R.E. Sustainability Council virtual roundtable held in April.
The council is the association’s member group of green building gurus. Participating in
the roundtable were:
3 The preponderance of mixed-profile materials. As lifecycle considerations gain ground in the
green building landscape, more attention will be
placed on design for disassembly (Df D) for end-of-life management of building materials. Bonding
agents may need to be replaced with alternative
ways of attaching one material to another so that
the materials may be separated for recycling at the
end of their useful life. Fixture design can become
more complex and require more labor, for example,
to replace glue with hardware that might require
additional machining of the piece.
4 The complexity of fixture contributions to
LEED. Rather than falling under one credit, fixtures may contribute to credits for recycled content, renewable materials, certified wood, regional
materials, and low-emitting materials, but only as
part of the overall sum of materials on the project. This makes it difficult for fixture suppliers to
understand where they fit in, how to market their
company’s products, and what documentation
to provide. Similarly, it is difficult for designers to
elicit the data they need to determine and document credit compliance. In addition to complex
calculations, sometimes by component, information on the origin of raw materials is also needed,
further complicating matters.
A GREENER FUTURE
It seems clear that the creation of market demand
will, eventually, drive the greening of retail spaces.
Colleges, for example, have found that students
favor those with green buildings. Office building managers command higher rents and enjoy
greater tenant demand when their buildings are
green. And hospitals have found green buildings
to be a point of differentiation from competitors
for elective services. A recently released study by
University of Notre Dame management professors
Edward Conlon and Ante Glavas provides similar
indications of ROI for retail sustainability.
The study shows that business performance
in LEED bank branches exceeds that of noncertified properties. Using consumer deposit and
loan data collected between 2008 and 2010, the
study compares the financial performance of
93 LEED-rated bank branches with 469 non-rated
branches owned and operated by PNC Financial
Services Group. What sets this study apart is
the statistical correction for a multitude of other
variables, making a compelling argument
for certification, or at least building to LEED
Although Conlon and Glavas are not yet certain
if it’s because LEED buildings are more attractive
to visit or because their employees are more satisfied, and consequently providing better service,
Conlon and Glavas find that sustainability equals
a big difference to the bottom line at LEED bank
branches— $461,300 per employee after controlling for other variables that influence performance
(e.g., consumer net worth, employee demographics, market demographics, size and age of branch,
The findings support a growing body of research
that shows social responsibility and sustainability
don’t have to be sacrificed for the sake of profitability. In fact, companies increasingly are finding
just the opposite: They can achieve revenue or job
growth while maintaining a high environmental
and social impact.
Retailers may well find that greening their
stores pays off in ways they have yet to measure.
Suppliers, meanwhile, stand to benefit from savvier marketing of their products. By listing the
LEED credits a product may contribute toward,
they increase the chance that the product will be
selected not only for LEED projects, but also for
projects that aren’t seeking certification—due to
the credibility and common language afforded by
the well-known rating system standards. When
the project is seeking certification, documentation that backs up marketing claims will help
LEED project coordinators demonstrate credit