Starbucks Coffee Company is expanding their commitment to the environment with two new initiatives. The company is joining the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Volume Certification pilot program and the company also announced a new LED lighting conversion program.

The announcement of the new pilot program during the USGBC’s annual Greenbuild conference was very fitting. As part of the LEED Volume Certification pilot program, Starbucks must certify at least 10 pilot stores (both new construction and renovations) within a six-month time frame. The company has selected 12 store sites for its initial round of certified stores.

Stores in the following cities have already been selected for inclusion in the pilot program:

  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Detroit area, Michigan
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • New York, New York
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Fukuoka, Japan
  • Taipei, Taiwan
Although Starbucks participation in the LEED Volume Certification pilot program is new, the coffee company isn’t new to the LEED certification systems. The company’s support center in Seattle is LEED Gold certified, the roasting plant in Sandy Run, S.C., is LEED Gold certified, and six other stores are either currently LEED certified or in the certification process (outside of the pilot program).

The Starbucks LED Lighting Conversion Program will help these stores in their LEED certification pursuits. Although many companies switched to compact fluorescent lighting in order to reduce energy costs, Starbucks is going a step further and will be converting their lighting to LED-based products.

LED lighting is much more energy efficient than even CFL lighting, but the company found it difficult to find a commercial product available to replace existing lighting. GE came to the rescue and now Starbucks has a LED lighting product that not only meets the company’s design requirements, it also fits existing lighting fixtures.

The program is already underway with more than 1,000 stores across the nation using the new LED lighting. Starbucks aims for 8,000 store upgrades completed by the end of 2010. After the program is completed on an international basis, the company estimates that each store should realize a 7 percent reduction in energy use on an annual basis.

Arthur Rubinfeld, president of Starbucks Global Development, spoke about the new initiatives.

“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. Through innovative leadership and collaboration, the USGBC and GE have made valuable contributions that are advancing our sustainability initiatives.”

Energy-efficiency upgrades on both retail and commercial buildings can have a significant impact on the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. With Starbucks’ wide reach as well as popularity, their changes are likely to get noticed by more business owners. I only hope that these other business owners realize the importance of making these types of changes and hop on the energy-efficient building bandwagon.

Photo: re-ality/Flickr

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