Green Prototype Store Opens in Round Rock, TX

Nov. 5, 2008
In late September, Round Rock, TX-based Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) opened its second prototype store that tests the performance of green building features, including state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly materials, and new retail design concepts.

Located in Round Rock, the store is projected to consume 48-percent less energy than a typical store that meets industry standards. As part of the company's prototype initiative, findings from the working laboratory will help the company determine how it approaches green-building design and construction in the future.

"The green-building practices incorporated into our Round Rock store help us to dramatically reduce our energy consumption, save natural resources, and provide a better experience for employees, co-op members, and customers," says Sally Jewell, REI president and CEO. "This store will not only have reduced operating costs, but we've significantly reduced our dependency on fossil fuels."

The second building, dubbed "REI Round Rock," was constructed using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards and is part of the LEED for Retail pilot project.

"Round Rock will allow us to continue to test innovative green-building concepts, many of which are new to the company, and all of which will help us reduce our environmental footprint," says Dean Iwata, REI's director of store development. "We recognize the potential in utilizing energy-efficient technology in our facilities, whether we're constructing a new store or making the most out of a location that's been operating for years."

Among its features, the Round Rock store will generate a portion of its power from a building integrated photovoltaic system, solar panel installation, and a solar hot-water system. These features will generate 13 percent of the store's electricity and heat 70 percent of the store's water used for restrooms and employee showers. All additional power needs will be met through green power, specifically energy generated from biomass digesters.

Other features that improve the store's performance include highly efficient building insulation; state-of-the-art mechanical equipment and controls that monitor and regulate the HVAC system, saving 25 percent of energy consumption; a cool roof designed to reflect the sun's radiation and save energy by lessening the store's need for air-conditioning by 10 to 15 percent; and water-efficient plumbing fixtures, which reduce water usage by 30 percent.

In addition to a focus on sustainability, the focal point of the 32,700-square-foot store is a community center located on the mezzanine level. This designated space highlights REI's commitment to connecting co-op members and customers to recreational opportunities, outdoor and conservation clubs and non-profit organizations, and regional volunteer service projects to help protect shared natural spaces.

The store's appearance differs greatly from more traditional retail designs because of the incorporation of recycled and sustainable materials. Sunflower seed husks, recycled tennis shoes, carpet manufactured through a climate-neutral process, and reclaimed wood from fallen trees are incorporated throughout the store on the floor, perimeter walls, fixtures, displays, benches, and table tops. A comprehensive summary of REI Round Rock's green-building features is available at

REI announced its prototype initiative in 2006 and has been involved in environmental store design since the planning and construction of its innovative Seattle flagship store in 1996. The company opened its first prototype store in Boulder, CO, in October 2007. In the coming year, REI will examine the environmental and financial performance of the first two prototype stores before the company designs and constructs a third prototype.

REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating, and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations, and financial contributions.

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