Kum & Go Convenience Stores Help Boost State's LEED Projects

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jul. 15, 2013 12:00 am  

Chris Ladner (left) and Chad Oppenhuizen of the Viridian consulting firm of Little Rock are helping Kum & Go expand its LEED-certified stores in Arkansas and 10 other states. (Photo by Jason Burt)

Thanks in part to an Iowa convenience store chain, the Arkansas roster of LEED projects topped the century mark earlier this year.

Kum & Go has contributed six LEED-certified projects and registered nine more for certification since announcing in 2011 its plan to roll out 20 to 25 new stores in central Arkansas.

“It’s a big commitment by the company,” said Linda Smith, executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Traditionally, new LEED projects are office buildings, schools and public buildings. We’re starting to see LEED expand to other categories, non-traditional areas like restaurants.”

And now, convenience stores.

“It just goes to show other businesses that LEED is a good target to stretch toward, and it’s easy to accomplish once you’ve done the first one,” Smith said. “It’s like everything else that’s new. It takes a while to understand the process of what LEED is all about.”

Officials at the home office in West Des Moines consider the green move in the Kum & Go building model to be a logical manifestation of its corporate personality.

“We’ve always made a commitment of giving back to the community,” said Megan Elfers, director of marketing and communications. “Another piece of being a good neighbor is to build sustainable. We heard that from our customers, and it just made sense to have more sustainable design.”

The more eco-friendly stores typically use 30 percent less energy and 20 percent less water, which provide long-term operational savings as a trade-off for more expensive short-term construction costs.

The company’s LEED-certified efforts began with two stores in Iowa in December 2009. The Springdale location at 1010 N. Thompson St. was the first Kum & Go in Arkansas to gain certification in June 2012.

It was followed by stores at 1709 N. Reynolds Road in Bryant, 1303 S. Pine St. in Cabot and 1220 E. Robinson Ave. in Springdale in November 2012. The newest additions to the company’s LEED stores in Arkansas are 2811 E. Central Ave. in Bentonville and 2388 N. College Ave. in Fayetteville, all certified last week.

Based on the sale-leaseback of its new stores in central Arkansas, the green Kum & Go developments are each valued in the $3 million range. Site cost is the biggest variable.



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