Sustainability continues to be an important element in the retail industry, with 78.3% of all retail chains reporting the use of environmentally friendly material. Efforts are continuously being made for retailers to “think green” when it comes to their stores. The U.S. Green Business Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for retail is designed to do just that. Whether a store is part of a large multi-tenant retail complex, or is housed on individually owned property, taking advantage of energy-efficient lights, HVAC systems and appliances can save costs while creating a more sustainable environment.

Technology plays a key role in sustainability, but only when coupled with experienced professionals. For example, energy modeling is a way to forecast energy use based on a series of data. Using sophisticated software, owners can get data about systems, including a specified time-frame for return on investment, life cycle costs, or reduction of use from previously used equipment. It is only through working with engineers, though, that the kind of intricate decisions can be made, and then customized as a solution to meet their objectives, both short-term and long-term.

A unique example of using technology for sustainability is a mobile application designed by an architecture and engineering firm. Having been leaders in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, Progressive AE has designed buildings at each level of the LEED program – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum – and led a client to be the first to achieve 100 LEED-certified projects using the LEED Volume Build pilot program.

From this experience, professionals noted a need for streamlined documentation. Using in-house resources, the firm developed the LEED PAL (Photo Album Log) app that serves as a communication tool between construction field personnel and the LEED administrator to describe and capture photographic documentation required for review by the GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute) prior to certification. This kind of innovation is only available when technology is put to use.