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How Green is my Dollar Tree?

By Paula G. Curry on November 19, 2012

While shopping for socks the other day, I heard this announcement. “Did you know,” said the soothing female voice, “that this Kohl’s store is LEED Certified?”  Frankly, I had no idea, but obviously it was something that Kohl’s wanted me to know. That got me thinking. Which other retailers are embracing LEED?  Does LEED certification of a store make consumers feel better about shopping there?  What about other “green” practices and their effect on sales?

A quick web search told me that many of the places where I shop regularly are either LEED certified or are embracing green technology and practices. Stop & Shop is purchasing renewable energy credits and installing solar panels on some of its stores, and was ranked among EPA’s Top 20 retail partners in its Green Power Partnership list for 2012. Home Depot reduced its energy use by 16% from 2004 to 2010, with the goal of reducing it by a total of 20% before the end of 2015.  Target’s 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report touts the chain’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving recycling, and saving water. Target is also expanding into Canada, and will seek LEED certification for all of its stores there. Staples, Whole Foods, and Starbucks were names I frequently came across when browsing lists of retailers that are focusing on sustainability.  Who knew I’d been shopping green all this time.

Other retailers are using green practices to attract customers and enhance sales.  Some, such as REI, Patagonia, and Timberland, sell products that feature recycled content or sustainable fabric and materials, while others, like Best Buy, get customers in the door by offering them a way to get rid of unwanted household electronics. (I have taken advantage of Best Buy’s recycling program, and have never left the store empty handed). Still others are “greening up” at least in part to improve their images and to stay off the radar of environmental groups.

Personally, I don’t think much about a store’s carbon footprint, but apparently a significant number of consumers do.  In a recent survey, 54% of grocery shoppers said they base their buying decisions at least in part on sustainability considerations. There are also a growing number of companies and organizations, such as GoodGuide, the Sustainable Furnishings Council, and Green America, that are helping people make environmentally-friendly buying decisions.

So . . . how green IS my Dollar Tree? According to Newsweek, the chain ranked 40th among top retailers in 2012.

Does shopping in a green building matter to you? Comment and share your thoughts with us!

Paula G. Curry

Paula G. Curry is a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Department. Read Bio