REI & Green Building

I’m slow when it comes to noticing new retail. But I feel completely remiss in not noticing REI’s new, green flagship store in Boulder.  I mean it’s a great store, where I  have bought some great outdoor items and I had no idea they were using this building as a prototype for their company’s green building efforts. They are using LEED certification as a guide but are determining if completing the formal process to gain recognition is appropriate. 
They have a great flash element on their site that highlights some of the very cool features of the building. The one I really like and wish I had known about (but clearly don’t pay enough attention) are the Solartubes, which gather light from the roof and then send it into the store. Wouldn’t that be a great feature in your home instead of the standard skylights, which have a huge expanse of glass, which gently escorts heat/cold into the house.

After spending some time on the REI site, I found pages of information about their green efforts (if you have time, read their REI Stewardship). They have goals to become a climate-neutral company and to be a zero waste to landfill organization. Additionally, they are coming up with an icon to help customers quickly identify those items that have a lower impact on the environment. REI is developing their own standard, so it doesn’t sound like it is an industry standard but I can’t help but think this effort will be closely watched by the other outdoor companies and a standard system of ranking products and assigning labels will emerge. 

It is amazing how aggressive some of these companies are to reduce their carbon footprints and review the way their products are made to reduce waste. Of course, the economics behind these moves are probably pretty significant but at least they have moved beyond the doubt about green houses gases to admitting their harm and then addressing the way they do business.

(full disclosure  – the image is from the REI site)


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