REI To Open New Prototype Green Store in Boulder


The green team at the outdoor gear co-op, REI (Recreational Equipment Inc,) can't be getting much sleep of late. They seem to be rolling our some new eco-endeavour every month. In August it was their Eco-Sensitive product labelling. Last month we learnt they were pledging a $100,000 USD grant to the Bikes Belong Foundation to make US cities more cyclist friendly. And now in October, with barely time to draw breath, they are about to unveil their long anticipated green prototype store in the Boulder, Colorado.

This new retail store, opening tomorrow has been constructed achieve a Silver certification as accredited by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. It's not the first time REI have put energy into designing better stores. We've reported over the past three years on their work in locations such as Portland and Pittsburg. Read after the jump how the Boulder shop has managed to reduce its electricity, etc, by 20% and its water by 30% against industry standards.That energy reduction by twenty percent is accomplished via a three prong solar implementation. Passive solar, solar thermal and solar electric. The first through natural daylighting with Solatubes [an Australian pioneer in daylighting, if I might get all patriotic for a moment]. Solar hot water (see pic below) will provide 70% of the hot water load of the building. And in, what is considered the first installation of building-integrated photovoltaics (BiPV) of its kind in a retail environment, solar panels imbedded in the entrance skylight with convert sunshine into electricity—about 2% of the store's need (pic at bottom).


The remaining 98% will be coming from purchased wind energy.

Low flow water fitting in restrooms through to workspaces combined to use about a third less water than building codes require. While carbon dioxide (CO2)sensors re-circulate the air throughout the store, resulting in higher quality ambient air and energy savings. Further reduction in Volatile Organic Compound(VOC) levels has been sought by incorporating more natural building materials into the stores flooring, fixtures, benches and such forth. Bamboo, recycled rubber (from tyres and tennis shoes) and cork being some of the chosen materials.


Not only greener from a technical standpoint the store also strives to be a useful venue for the broader community. A nearly 2,000-square-foot (186 m2) space of elevated flooring within the store has been dedicated to be a resource for the community "to learn more about the outdoors and opportunities to protect shared natural spaces, as well as provide a venue for events, presentations, and demonstrations by REI or one of its many community partners." This community space will be free of merchandise.

Design consultants for the Boulder store were Gensler, whose design director for the project, Ted Jacobs, is quoted as saying, "REI challenged us to raise the bar in terms of how their store and brand experience could better serve the community and address their goals to reduce the company's environment footprint." Green lessons learnt from this prototype store, (which is a remodelling of a store originally opened in 2002) will be applied to future REI buildings.

We're told a dedicated webpage will carry more info on the store. It was wasn't quite ready for viewing at the time of posting, [Whoops, we spoke too soon. It's now live!] but in the meantime, while waiting you can visit the earlier site. ::REI Boulder Store

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