Starbucks Expands Green Building Projects with LEED Volume Certifications

SEATTLE, WA — The U.S. Green Building Council has set a goal of 100,000 LEED certified buildings by next year, and although the green building label is far from hitting that target, Starbucks yesterday announced its membership in a USGBC-launched project that aims to help move the ball forward more rapidly.

As part of Greenbuild 2009, the coffee giant said that it will be one of the first companies to take part in the USGBC's Volume Certification Program, a pilot that will test the ability to rapidly certify a large number of buildings as LEED-ready when built to the same specifications.

According to company documents, Starbucks will build 10 stores in the next six months if different regions around the world; once the USGBC has audited and approved the projects' environmental performance, they can be replicated elsewhere.

In addition to helping the USGBC reach its goal of 100,000 certified buildings in the next year, joining the Volume Certification Program also helps Starbucks achieve its target for all new company-owned stores to be LEED-certified -- the standard is to go into effect for the company's building program by the end of 2010.

"Our new green construction methodologies and lighting efforts have the rigor to help us achieve our environmental goals and the flexibility to support our scale," Arthur Rubinfeld, Starbucks' president of global development, said in a statement. "Through innovative leadership and collaboration, the USGBC and GE have made valuable contributions that are advancing our sustainability initiatives." Rubinfeld spoke to the Greenbuild conference Thursday morning about the company's overall green building strategy; that talk will be available online next week.

The first Starbucks store in the Volume Certification program opens in San Diego, Calif., later this month; other pilot stories will open domestically in Washington state, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and New York, and international stores are planned for Canada, Portugal, the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan.

Building the pilot project stores in different bioregions will help to ensure that the environmental performance of the buildings is applicable in any region, allowing for easier scalability of the certification project.