Research and discussion for citizens and decision makers

Chris Tomlinson

LEED design for healthy future

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More and more retail stores are discovering what office buildings and private residences learned a long time ago - good design can make people and businesses happier, healthier and more prosperous. That’s important at a time when customers have the option of staying home and shopping online rather than suffer through a bad consumer experience.

This year, Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified retail stores. If you’ve been to one of the H-E-B grocery stores on Kempwood Drive, Bunker Hill or Alabama Street, you’ve been inside a LEED-certified retail store.

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These systems protect the environment and are good for the neighborhoods where the buildings are constructed. But before you assume that I’m telling retailers with tight profit margins to waste money on unnecessary environmental niceties, getting LEED certification is paying off for those who achieve it.

Constructing a LEED-certified, or green, building costs between 2 percent and 15 percent more depending on location and features, according to studies, but building owners see an average 7 percent increase in asset value and an 8 percent return on investment, according to a survey by Dodge Data Analytics, a consulting firm. These buildings also use 15 percent less energy and total operating costs are 8 percent lower, commanding higher rents if the owner leases retail space.

The study also found that stores with green features led to more customer traffic and more time spent in the store compared to traditional stores.

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Online retailers pose the biggest challenge to brick-and-mortar stores, and smart retailers realize the best way to compete with online stores is to offer a quality customer experience through excellent customer service in a welcoming environment that offers desirable products at good prices. Every dollar a retailer can put toward creating that experience instead of paying utility bills is a dollar better spent.

Full commentary: Happy holiday shopping starts with a healthy building
Source: Houston Chronicle, November 20, 2014

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