The New REI Green Prototype Store is Full of Sunshine

REI Round Rock Green Store.jpg

Image Source: REI

The brand new and first-ever REI Green Prototype store built from the ground up is getting ready to open its doors in Round Rock, Texas, just North of Austin. For a store that is known for selling outdoor gear, the new prototype store is geared toward bringing the outdoors indoors. REI is already known for its green retail buildings and its commitment to eco-integrity. But this new shop is the company's greenest effort yet.

Click through for details and a photo tour of the pending LEED-certification building, interior design, and concepts.

REI solatube dressing room.jpg

Almost all of the daytime lighting is directed into the store through fixtures known as Solatubes. Stepping into a fitting room gives one the sense of stepping outside, which is appropriate being that the outdoors is where one will be seen in their gear.

Equal attention was given to the floor. Where the floor is not bamboo, it is either rubber particles from used tires or shoe soles, or recycled carpet tiles that can be replaced by the square tile instead of a square mile.

What I liked most about the store is that the green attributes are on the down low, playing a supporting role to the aesthetics of the store and the products on the shelves.

The REI Green Prototype Store will not sell any specialty eco-friendly items. Since most of their inventory is made to last, often coming with a lifetime warranty, REI's new prototype store design provides a building to match.

Todd Callaway, the store manager, explained that the Round Rock store is built to meet LEED certification requirements.

Solar panels provide a significant amount of supplemental energy for the needs of the store. It helps that those needs are 50% less than a typical retail store its size. Also in place are water saving devices and high tech heating and cooling systems that recycle indoor air while bringing in oxygen from outside as needed.

And of course, like all REI stores, there is a shower for employees who ride a bicycle to work.

REI Employee Shower.jpg

Unfortunately, due to its location in a Texas size strip mall outside of a transit service area, the new store is virtually only accessible by automobile. That will hopefully be more of a consideration in REI's plans for future Green Prototype stores.

REI Adventure Land for Kids.jpg

Todd Callaway, gave me a tour of the new facility, which is set to open on September 26, 2008. He explained that besides the focus on green, there is also a focus on community. The new store offers sunlit community meeting spaces and a small children's "adventure land."

As far as the future of Green Prototype stores, REI is promising more of the same, which in this case, is a good thing.

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