By  on October 5, 2007

ATLANTA — Recreational Equipment, Inc., better known as REI, has opened an expanded and renovated Boulder, Colo., store designed to serve as a working laboratory to analyze the performance of green building features and new retail concepts.

The 42,000-square-foot store meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver standards for commercial interiors, and it also incorporates an elevated community center that is the focal point of the store.

The overall design scheme is meant to be reminiscent of nature, which is reflected in the exterior architecture and interior design elements. For example, the store’s facade incorporates visual cues of earthen strata, thick forest canopies and a towering pinnacle.

Gensler, a global design, planning and strategic consulting firm and a leader of sustainable design, is the architect and interior designer for the store, which opened Oct. 5. Ted Jacobs, Gensler’s design director for the project, said, “REI challenged us to raise the bar in terms of how their store and brand experience could better serve the community and the environment.”

Dean Iwata, REI’s director of store development, said the store “builds on our more than 10 years of green building experience and helps us test concepts that will pave the way for how our stores are built in the future, including design, material selections and use of technology.” Green building techniques used in the store’s design include aggressive daylight harvesting systems that will reduce the store’s energy consumption and allow for more natural daylight over in-store lighting. That includes Solatubes, which are highly reflective funnel-shaped tubes that channel daylight from the roof throughout the store, which are expected to save approximately 20 percent in the store’s energy costs.

The store also has a centrally-located glass atrium skylight to let in sunlight while monitoring and capturing the sun’s energy to power the store through technology called building integrated photovoltaics. REI and Gensler said it’s this solar roof monitor is the first installation of building-integrated photovoltaics of its kind in a retail environment. Gensler also pointed out that daylight has been shown in studies by big-box retailers to have a positive effect on sales.

Other sustainable highlights include floors, perimeter walls, fixtures, displays, benches and tabletops made of green materials, such as bamboo, recycled rubber, and cork.

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