UPDATE: Verizon Wireless recently announced that more than 100 of its communication stores have received the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
LEED certification is rapidly becoming a priority for building managers and store owners across the country. According to the EPA, developers and companies experience many benefits as a result of building green. Turning a commercial space green involves just a few steps. By conserving electricity, water and waste; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and accommodating green travel, building managers can reduce operating expenses, while at the same time helping to protect the environment and providing an eco-friendly experience for employees and customers. Conserving resources can be as simple as installing energy-efficient lighting. LED light bulbs are long-lasting and more efficient than traditional fluorescent bulbs because they radiate light in a specific direction. They also last longer and require up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Home improvement stores and commercial contractors are stocking their shelves with products that meet LEED certifications, including paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (chemicals that are emitted as gases and negatively affect indoor air quality). Choosing eco-friendly paint is not only good for the environment, but also healthy for employees and customers as it has a direct effect on the building’s indoor air quality. Businesses large and small can also help the environment outside of their locations. Encouraging employees to ride bikes to work, and installing bike racks outside their places of business, can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions from cars, leading to improved outdoor air quality. Foot traffic can also increase, literally, as more and more customers may walk or bike up to the store. Meeting the recognized standard for building sustainability through LEED certification is one way to help companies meet their bottom line. Verizon Wireless, with a nationwide retail presence, has 95 stores rated under the LEED for Commercial Interiors rating system as of July 2012, showing other retailers a way to improve the customer experience and improve environmental performance in a retail environment.