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Press Releases

REI Prototype Store Opens October 5 in Boulder, Colo.

On Friday, Oct. 5, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, opens its first prototype store to test new retail concepts and the performance of green building features.

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On Friday, Oct. 5, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, opens its first prototype store to test new retail concepts and the performance of green building features, including state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly materials. Findings from the working laboratory will help the company make decisions on how it approaches green building design and construction in the future.

“REI’s prototype initiative is structured around our community involvement, environmental stewardship and commitment to be a gateway to the outdoors,” said Brian Unmacht, REI’s senior vice president of sales, store development and logistics. “Our Boulder location captures the uniqueness of REI’s brand and values, while supporting our aspirations to reduce our environmental footprint.”

Building upon more than 10 years of the co-op’s leadership in green building design, REI Boulder was constructed using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, specifically to achieve a LEED Silver certification.

Three solar strategies — passive solar, solar thermal and solar electric — were incorporated into the design. Natural daylight is channeled throughout the store through Solatubesâ„¢ while store lighting automatically dims or turns off during the day. Solatubes will save the store more than 20 percent in its energy costs, the annual equivalent of powering up to three houses. A soaring entryway skylight collects energy from imbedded silicon solar cells, and is the first installation of building-integrated photovoltaics of its kind in a retail environment. A solar hot water system will meet 70 percent of the store’s hot water needs that is supplied through efficient plumbing fixtures.

Some of the most striking differences in the store’s appearance occur through design changes and the incorporation of renewable and sustainable materials. Located at the center of the 42,000 square-foot store is an elevated community center — a first for REI. The community center highlights REI’s commitment to connecting co-op members and customers to resources for recreation opportunities, outdoor and conservation clubs and non-profit organizations, and regional service projects to help protect shared natural spaces. The area also features event space for up to 80 people that is available to nonprofits and clubs.

Green materials, such as bamboo, recycled rubber and cork, have been incorporated throughout the store on the floor, perimeter walls, fixtures, displays, benches and table tops. A comprehensive summary of the store’s green building features is available on REI’s website at A self-guided walking tour is also available through a brochure in the store.

REI’s partner for the prototype store is Gensler, a leading global design, planning and strategic consulting firm. The company has been a champion of sustainable design for years and in 2005 received the Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council for its commitment to the advancement of sustainable design. As the architect and contributing interior designer, Gensler was guided by LEED standards to create custom-design new fixtures, signage and wayfinding systems for the new layout of the store. Gensler is also managing the LEED certification process for the Boulder store.

“REI challenged us to raise the bar in terms of how their store and brand experience could better serve the community and address their goals to reduce the company’s environment footprint,” said Ted Jacobs, Gensler’s design director for the project. “The resulting design delivers a sense of community for both REI members and non-members, and reflects REI’s leadership in environmental design and commitment to responsible retailing.”

“We are very proud of our innovation in Boulder and look forward to incorporating feedback from our members, customers and own employees into future prototype locations,” added Dean Iwata, REI’s director of store development. “Through this initiative, we will continue to celebrate the co-op’s spirit and serve as a resource to members and customers, community partners and nonprofit organizations.”

REI announced its prototype initiative in May 2006. The prototype in Boulder was constructed by remodeling the company’s existing store that opened in 2002. Starting in 2005, the store was one of 20 REI locations to be powered by green energy. By expanding into a vacant space adjacent to the store, the larger footprint allowed a wider selection of gear and apparel, and the addition of a new ski and snowboard department, repair shop, and kid’s play area.

The company has been involved in green retail store design since the planning, construction and opening of the co-op’s innovative Seattle flagship store in 1996. In 2004, REI’s Portland, Ore. location became the first retail store in the country to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED gold rating for commercial interiors, followed by REI’s Pittsburgh store with LEED silver in 2006. REI has built the Boulder store to also achieve a LEED silver rating for commercial interiors. In addition, the company is also involved in U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Retail pilot project, which has the goal of creating certification procedures that are less costly and time intensive for the retail construction industry. REI Boulder is the first store to be constructed using LEED for Retail criteria.

Further information on the company’s comprehensive stewardship initiatives is available at Earlier this year, the co-op released a detailed report of its significant social and environmental impacts to its members, customers and other stakeholders, including greenhouse reduction efforts of energy efficiency measures, green power purchases and carbon offset investments.

About REI
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions. For 10 consecutive years, REI has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” In 2007, the company ranked 27th overall and first among companies that encourage employees to balance their work and personal lives.


Editor’s note: Interviews, photography and b-roll may be obtained by contacting Megan Behrbaum at 253-437-7736 or Media tours and third-party interviews are also available.