Target seeks LEED certification for all Canadian stores

When Target Corp. comes to Canada next year, the U.S. retail giant will be taking unprecedented steps for this country in terms creating green facilities to shop in.

Target announced last week it would be seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for each of its 124 stores that are slated to open in Canada in 2013. It’s working through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC ) LEED Volume program to achieve this.

Target breaks new ground in sustainability

“Target is demonstrating significant market leadership in adopting LEED portfolio-wide in Canada,” said Emily Kirk Wilson, manager of the USGBC’s LEED Volume program. “They are the first LEED Volume participant to implement LEED on a portfolio-wide basis in Canada.”

Kirk Wilson explained that the LEED Volume program is intended for companies looking to certify 25 or more buildings at a time. She added that this program of the USGBC is used internationally and no equivalent program is available through the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

Thomas Mueller, CEO of the CaGBC, agreed that Target is setting a new standard, adding that no Canadian-based company has ever used the LEED Volume program because the scale of it is beyond the size of most homegrown firms.

“There is a relatively small number of Canadian organizations that would benefit from this program, which requires at least 25 buildings to be certified in a three-year period,” he said.

Mueller said this is why the CaGBC does not have its own volume process, although it has reviewed the USGBC program and “determined it to be sound.”

“We expect that this initiative by Target will encourage more retailers to enhance the environmental performance of their buildings through LEED,” Mueller said.

Target said it would spend more than $1.2 billion on renovating its Canadians stores, or at least $10 million on each outlet.

Target is making its entry into the Canadian market after having purchased the Zellers chain from Hudson’s Bay Co. last year. All the Target stores to open next year will be former Zellers stores.

As for why Target is so ambitious in seeking green certification for its Canadian facilities, Sebastien Bouchard, public relations manager for Target Canada, said: “This will make Target a leader among Canadian mass retailers when it comes to LEED buildings. It also reinforces Target’s long-standing commitment to sustainability.”

Target’s Canadian efforts beyond what was done in U.S.

Canada is Target’s first expansion outside the U.S. Its objective of making all Canadian stores LEED-certified would put it ahead of where it is in the United States, where Bouchard said just eight of its nearly 1,800 stores are LEED certified.

Asked if Target has similarly green ambitions for its U.S. stores, Bouchard said: “This announcement is really about Canada and we can’t speculate on future plans for our U.S. locations.”

Nonetheless, he said: “Target has a long history of being a good corporate citizen and good neighbour. Since we opened our first store in 1962, Target has invested in the health and sustainability of our communities.”

Bouchard cited some of Target’s recent accolades, such as being named one of the 100 best corporate citizens by Corporate Responsibility Magazine and being chosen as one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

Managing energy, emissions, water and waste

Target said its Canadian stores will be designed and operated for efficient use of energy and water, low carbon emissions and reduced levels of waste that ends up in landfills.

Bouchard at least 10 per cent of new materials used in the renovations will be recycled, low-flow equipment will be installed in washrooms and bicycle racks will be installed at all stores to facilitate non-vehicular travel.

The fact that Target is renovating old Zellers stores rather than creating new facilities from scratch helps reduce waste and minimize the need for new building materials, Bouchard added.

He said Target anticipates energy usage in its Canadian stores will be 18 per cent less than what’s called for in the national energy code, and that at least 50 per cent of construction waste during store renovations will be diverted away from landfills.

Other LEED-certified retailers

Kirk Wilson said some of the other retail chains that have used the USGBC’s LEED Volume program include Starbucks, Best Buy, Verizon Wireless, Kohl’s and PNC Bank. Starbucks’ LEED initiative includes outlets in Canada, she said.

Mueller said there are other retail businesses operating in Canada that have achieved LEED status on some facilities — but not through the Volume program — such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

The first phase of the Target’s Canadian stores are slated to open in Ontario in March or April, including various locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area as well as Windsor, London and Guelph.

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