Press Releases

REI’s Second Green Prototype Store Opens September 26 in Texas

On Friday, Sept. 26, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, opens its second prototype store that will test the performance of green building features.

On Friday, Sept. 26, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, opens its second prototype store that will test the performance of green building features, including state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly materials, and new retail design concepts.

Located in Round Rock, Texas, the store is built from the ground up and projected to consume 48 percent less energy than a typical store that meets industry standards. As part of the company’s prototype initiative, findings from the working laboratory will help the company determine how it approaches green building design and construction in the future.

“The green building practices incorporated into our Round Rock store help us to dramatically reduce our energy consumption, save natural resources and provide a better experience for employees, co-op members and customers,” said Sally Jewell, REI president and CEO. “This store will not only have reduced operating costs, but we’ve significantly reduced our dependency on fossil fuels.”

Building upon more than 10 years of leadership in green building design, REI Round Rock was constructed using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and is part of the LEED for Retail pilot project.

“Round Rock will allow us to continue to test innovative green building concepts – many of which are new to the company and all of which will help us reduce our environmental footprint,” said Dean Iwata, REI’s director of Store Development. “We recognize the potential in utilizing energy efficient technology in our facilities, whether we’re constructing a new store or making the most out of a location that’s been operating for years.”

Among its features, the Round Rock store will generate a portion of its power from a building integrated photovoltaic system, solar panel installation and a solar hot water system. These features will generate 13 percent of the store’s electricity and heat 70 percent of the store’s water used for restrooms and employee showers. In addition, Solatubes® will diffuse natural light, offsetting electrical consumption by an additional five percent as an automated lighting system dims or turns off unneeded artificial lighting throughout the store. All additional power needs will be met through green power, specifically energy generated from biomass digesters.

Other features that improve the store’s performance include highly efficient building insulation; state-of-the-art mechanical equipment and controls that monitor and regulate the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, saving 25 percent of energy consumption; a “cool” roof designed to reflect the sun’s radiation and save energy by lessening the store’s need for air conditioning by 10 to 15 percent; and water-efficient plumbing fixtures, which reduce water usage by 30 percent.

In addition to a focus on sustainability, the focal point of the 32,700 square-foot store is a community center located on the mezzanine level. This designated space highlights REI’s commitment to connecting co-op members and customers to recreational opportunities, outdoor and conservation clubs and non-profit organizations, and regional volunteer service projects to help protect shared natural spaces.

The store’s appearance will differ greatly from more traditional retail designs because of the incorporation of recycled and sustainable materials. Sunflower seed husks, recycled tennis shoes, carpeting manufactured through a climate-neutral process, and reclaimed wood from fallen trees are incorporated throughout the store on the floor, perimeter walls, fixtures, displays, benches and table tops. A comprehensive summary of REI Round Rock’s green building features is available at

REI’s design 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.

“Only through a collaborative relationship between REI and our team, as well as the truly holistic approach to affect all REI’s brand touch points, could this Round Rock store have come to fruition,” said Ted Jacobs, Gensler’s design director for the project. “The result is a design that reflects REI’s leadership in environmental design, commitment to community and to responsible retailing.”

REI announced its prototype initiative in 2006 and has been involved in environmental store design since the planning and construction of its innovative Seattle flagship store in 1996. The company opened its first prototype store in Boulder, Colo. in October 2007. The store received Chain Store Age’s 2007 Retail Store of the Year award in the environmental sustainability category. In the coming year, REI will examine the environmental and financial performance of the first two prototype stores before the company designs and constructs the third prototype.

While the prototype initiative places a greater focus on green design, REI continues to ensure all of its new locations are reducing the company’s impact on the environment. The co-op will open its next store in Lincoln Park, Ill. on Oct. 3 and is applying for LEED certification to determine the rating of a more traditional REI store design.

Further information on the company’s comprehensive stewardship initiatives is available at

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.


Editor’s note: Interviews and photography may be obtained by contacting Megan Behrbaum at 253-437-7736 (direct), 206-540-5738 (pager), or Media tours and third-party interviews are also available.