Skip navigation
Retail Traffic

Evolutions in Green Building

Q: How is the green building trend shaping up? Are the standards in place working or do they need to be tweaked further for retail design and construction?

HKW Associates

Fred l. Keith, President: At HKW we find our developer clients increasingly open to applying sustainable design principles to their projects. They are somewhat less interested in actual LEED certification and the commensurate administrative fees that are part of that process. One driver in making green design more mainstream is the commitment of several of the big-box retailers. Developers are taking notice and directing their architects accordingly.

Nelsen Partners

Brad J. Nelsen, President: All projects are being impacted by green building and LEED issues, and the future of our industry will find this to be a standard requirement no different than safety codes or ADA requirements. The retail industry, however, and the regulations that address core and shell construction have yet to be resolved in a manner that allows the developer/owner to effectively achieve results.


Bruce A. Barteldt, Jr., National Retail Studio Principal: As far as retailers are concerned, they're anticipating the release of new LEED standards that will focus on retail specifically and volume certification for prototypical rollouts. While this is expected to be deployed this fall, it will be slow to take hold since retailer programs are not robust enough to amplify or accelerate the implementation. Related to development, many developers have been considering and employing sustainable strategies during the last year, utilizing the standards that have been in place for several years (LEED New Construction and LEED Existing Buildings). Little has been very involved with both retailer and developer LEED projects, and even with the economic slowdown, we've been accelerating the implementation of sustainable project design. It's our standard approach, regardless of “certification” because it is just good design.

ka architecture

Richard Wilden, Senior Design Architect: The retail industry is rapidly coming to embrace green building practices as its understanding improves, in particular in the areas of energy savings. Some of that momentum is built as the benefits for low-impact site development are being realized. Every developer is looking to incorporate the “low-hanging fruit” green initiatives, but there are still challenges to achieving overall sustainability goals with tenant coordination. Certification standards will continue to evolve as the industry gains better understanding.

JPRA Architects

Greg Tysowski, Vice President of Design: Green, sustainable or LEED all bring different factors to consider and are becoming integral to the process of retail design and construction. Municipalities, developers, retailers and architects are all focusing on the issues as well as the general public who occupy these places and are affected by the future impact of decisions made today. Current standards are just that, constant adjustments will continue to take place as technology, products and knowledge develop with experience. Specifically, new standards are needed on larger single-tenant buildings, restaurants and other stand-alones that have unique situations and challenges.


Bob Tindall, Chairman: The difficulty has been in the lack of incentives for developers to change their financial modeling and lease structures. The good news is that both retailers and developers are seeing the consumer demand for sustainability and are now pushing for changes. Our design for Wachovia was recently awarded LEED Silver certification in both the Retail and Portfolio pilot programs. This will have a major impact on retail because for the first time, retailers can build green across their entire portfolio without having to go through the certification process for each individual store. By reducing the paperwork and approval process, building green is now much easier and more affordable for retailers.

MVE & Partners

Keith Ray, Principal: The rush of new green products is a testament to our system. There are a lot more companies providing products, which makes pricing more competitive — which is good news for developers, especially when combined with the much more competitive bids we are seeing recently. We still have challenges in the retail sector because tenants want lower rent and to receive more TI dollars. But construction costs are still a concern.

O'Brien & Associates

Jack O'Brien, President and CEO: The LEED products that we have been utilizing for green building are written with more of a focus on office buildings as compared to retail. Over the last several months, we have been tracking the LEED Retail system that is still in pilot and is scheduled for public release later this year. We are encouraged by the changes that have been made, and feel this new system will have a stronger retail alignment.


Scott Hall, Senior Associate and Senior Designer: Green building is a tremendous opportunity for retail architecture. As consumers of power and resources, existing properties present vast opportunities for creative transitions to greater efficiency. These popular venues can also serve as educators, helping to enlighten the communities they serve by addressing their commercial responsibility with regards to being visible with green solutions. They can also work to create personal opportunities for their patrons.

Perkowitz + Ruth

Sy Perkowitz, President and CEO: Some of our retail clients have begun to understand the return on investment and owners are really starting to see the benefits of green building. As retailers are realizing the advantages of sustainable building practices, customers are responding to the changes as well. I believe the current standards are providing some of the guidelines necessary to encourage these actions and I am sure they will continue to evolve.

FRCH Design Worldwide

Y. E. Smith, Vice President and Managing Creative Director: The standards and methods established by LEED are an important tool but are not a means to an end. The various standards and levels are an excellent guide and are easily accessible to all projects. New methods and materials for energy efficiency are flooding the profession and rising energy costs point in one simple direction. Generally speaking, human acceptance and application require more tweaking.

MCG Architecture

Jeff Gill, Vice President and Principal: More cities are enforcing green codes, which will have a significant change on retail design. From energy use to how one incorporates daylighting into one's projects, owners and design teams will need to reconsider the retail box. Once there is general acceptance of allowable materials and associated costs for sustainable projects, the implementation of green building will be a common process.


Richard Foy, Co-Chairman: Green building practices are smart answers to the growing problems in energy, climate and health. These issues are increasing the importance and necessity for sustainable buildings that now account for a third of all energy consumption. Mixed-use, high-density projects can have significant positive impacts by reducing the number of car trips in large regional populations. Multi-modal transportation and vertical stacking of parking further helps mitigate auto impacts. Our health is being compromised by volatile materials such as formaldehyde processed plywood, drywall, paints and carpeting. Green is here to stay. New standards that address broader impacts are currently being legislated. Green building is fundamental to our global, national and personal well being.

Design Collective

Rich Burns, Principal: The green phenomenon has certainly had an impact on how developers and architects design and build. We are finding that developers are supportive of sustainable principles, but under current market conditions hesitate to make the full financial and administrative commitment to achieving LEED-certified projects.

Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue

Victor Yue, Managing Partner: We have one LEED project under construction, and one Silver LEED project in design. Environmentally sensitive design is here to stay. After doing one LEED project with us, a developer recognizes its benefits and starts adopting some of the design principles on other projects even if they are not pursuing LEED certification. It is our opinion that, in the long run, LEED will become an industry norm rather than exception. Those projects that are not designed with energy-efficient systems may be in a comparative marketing disadvantage as the tenants see lower operating cost on leases in green buildings.

KKE Architects, Inc.

Brian Arial, Managing Principal: Retail has struggled to fit into the green building framework as defined by LEED certification. The typical retail development process remains the biggest hurdle in the delivery of a green building. The historical approach of delivering a cold dark shell for a tenant to build out has made a holistic green building difficult to verify and deliver.


Leo V. Mendez, Director of Retail Design: It is critical that the standards are current, which requires constant revision. They must respond to different building types, new technologies and the accumulation of knowledge as we develop more green building expertise. OWP/P has been advising the U.S. Green Building Council on the development of specific LEED standards for retail since buildouts range from putting up shelves in a small space to a complete shopping center development. We have also reviewed projects for the LEED Core and Shell Pilot Program, of which many projects have been retail-related.


Kevin Nice, Principal: Building green retail has become more than just a trend in both new building and redevelopments; it has become corporate policy for many larger developers. The difficulty lies not in the lack of green standards, but in the desire to apply the same standards everywhere. The best way to “be green” is for landlords and tenants to analyze the appropriate measures at each site and work together toward a common goal. Cooperation at that level is still the exception, but understanding its value will allow for more effective, project-specific guidelines.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.