REI Goes Green With Expansion

REI Goes Green With Expansion

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) opens its East Coast distribution center today, part of an expansion its working to make as eco-friendly as possible.

The outdoor clothing and equipment co-op built the 525,000 square-foot building on 43 acres in Bedford, Pa.

REI put a number of green measures in place, and hopes to receive LEED-New Construction Silver certification for the center.

The facility was designed with more than 360 windows and skylights to maximize the use of sunlight and reduce energy use. The center has six miles of conveyor belts, sections of which can be turned off when they're empty. Since there is no recycling pick-up program for businesses in the city, REI contracted with a private recycling vendor to pick up glass, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, packaging and shrink-wrap.

For water efficiency, REI planned landscaping that does not need irrigation, and inside uses dual-flush toilets, and low-flow or waterless fixtures.

Outside of the center, REI purchased 12 acres to create a wetland for local wildlife and manage storm water runoff. It also set aside 30 parking spaces for carpoolers and fuel-efficient vehicles, and provides 20 bike stalls and six showers for bike-riding employees.

During construction, the building was situated to take advantage of the sun and wind, construction equipment used B20 bio-diesel, and an on-site concrete and mixing plant was used in lieu of trucking concrete over local roads. REI also donated a house that was previously on the property to Habitat for Humanity.

"The facility highlights the co-op's commitment to environmental stewardship to minimize our impact on the planet," said Brian Unmacht, REI's senior vice president of sales, store development and logistics.

Once fully operational and staffed, the center will have 350 employees and support 42 of REI's 96 stores, about half of its direct-to-customer business and about 1.2 million co-op members. The facility is REI’s second distribution center. Its other center is in Sumner, Wash.

REI has also greened its retail sites, earning LEED gold certification for its Portland store in 2004 and LEED silver for its Pittsburgh store in 2006. This year it opened a Boulder, Colo., store using the LEED-Retail pilot program criteria.