Green Grows Retail Sales

Momentum continues to build for environmentally friendly practices in retail settings. The U.S. Green Building Council is expected to release its LEED for Retail standards later this year. In the meantime, many retailers are pursuing other forms of certification under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Since 2000, 2,600 retail projects have been registered with the USGBC, and half of those were approved last year.
Retailers achieving certification include not only big chains but also independent retailers. For example, JCPenney won kudos for recycling, and installing energy efficient lighting and motion sensor faucets. Office Depot got LEED credits for skylights, Energy Star rated HVAC equipment, and low-flow urinals. Even a small retailer like a Goodwill store in Macedon, NY, was recognized for adding carbon dioxide sensors to control air quality, and a white roof design to reduce heat.

These retailers are not just looking for environmental cred or good public relations. They are moving to green practices to add to the bottom line. For example, consider Walmart. According to the USGBC, studies show that daylight has a significant potential to boost retail sales. “Skylights incorporated into Walmart’s prototype Eco-Mart in Lawrence, Kansas yielded a surprising discovery,” reads a USGBC report. “To cut costs, skylights were installed over only half the store. Sales per square foot were significantly higher for those departments with access to natural light. Walmart subsequently mandated daylighting in all new stores.”

Online, there are many suggestions for increasing a store’s eco friendliness, including:

Eliminate waste. Reuse shopping bags and encourage shoppers to use canvas rather than paper or plastic.
Use sustainable materials. Certified wood can be used for interior construction, and durable recycled carpet is now available.
Sell green products. Do the research necessary to source and offer green products to your customers.
Save energy. Reduce a store’s carbon footprint with smart thermostats, lighting on timers, and energy efficient bulbs. There are even ways to reduce the energy wasted by electronic cash registers and computers.

There may be a side benefit for retailers going green as well: a more motivated work force that feels a sense of accomplishment.