The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has institutionalized our parents’ lessons in “waste not, want not” with its LEED rating system by streamlining it to become more affordable under its Volume Program. The LEED Volume Program helps organizations operate as good “corporate citizens” that want to preserve the environment, while enhancing their bottom line—a true win-win.
LEED Volume encourages companies that have prototypical building designs to apply for LEED certification in bulk, saving companies significant time and money over registering stores one by one.
For example, an organization certifying 50 projects using the Volume Program, rather than individually, could save almost 43 percent on USGBC fees. If you believe time is money, then the Volume Program offers significant additional savings. With Volume projects, whether you submit them in batches of three or more, USGBC will only review them one at a time, with a minimum turnaround time of 10 business days, e.g. three stores = 30 days or six weeks. But, in the standard system, the same three stores have a review time of 40 days per store, or 120 business days, translating to almost six months!
Here is how it works. Through the use of prototype standards, the LEED Volume Program allows organizations to simplify LEED documentation for multiple buildings or spaces of a similar type or management. Specifically, the program structure permits simple submissions of individual stores with occasional audits, but requires full documentation to verify that LEED processes are effectively in place and working as intended. Unlike the standard submission process that requires individual submissions, the Volume Program allows groups of 25 projects to be purchased in bulk, instead of individually. Since most projects will be similar to the base prototype, submissions can be simplified, as credits related to the design will be pre-certified within the participant’s Volume Program. Once credits are established and pre-certified, projects that are not being audited simply can choose from the “shopping list” of LEED criteria and fill out a simple scorecard for LEED certification submission.
Presently, there are five Volume Programs, two of which (LEED 2009 for Retail New Construction and Major Renovations, and LEED 2009 for Retail New Commercial Interiors) are best suited for retailers seeking Volume certification. Prime candidates for these retail-focused programs are multi-store chain retailers, including restaurants, banks, chain stores, hospitality and other retailers that use a standard building or facility design for multiple locations. At this time, however, these two programs are in the pilot stage and do not have open availability. If you think these programs are suited to your prototype store, watch for updates from the USGBC and contact them when the programs become available.
Companies that have built their brand and created a positive customer experience in their bricks-and-mortar facilities can further enhance the brand and connect in meaningful ways to their customers, staff and culture by implementing green initiatives, while operating within the smallest footprint. The USGBC Volume Program can help organizations achieve this goal at the lowest program cost with the shortest review times. Truly a win-win, wouldn’t you agree?
—Kenneth A. Gruskin is principal and founder of Springfield, N.J.-based Gruskin Group, an integrated retail design firm that builds unified brand experiences through architecture, brand development, visual communications, Web/interactive, industrial design, interior design, strategic consulting and sustainable design. Visit www.gruskingroup.com.