The behind-the-scenes efforts of a handful of outdoor trailblazers to reduce the impact of their buildings demonstrates that here, sustainability has quite literally “hit home.”

With a decade or so left to turn the carbon emissions’ curve, the clock is ticking on avoiding disastrous climate change. Outdoor brands and retailers like REI, Vaude, Prana and MEC aim to apply a holistic approach to their carbon footprint that includes their premises, providing excellent examples of sustainable architecture and planning that reduces their negative environmental impact.

REI’s Solar-Powered Distribution Center

REI’s new Goodyear Distribution Center in Arizona features the latest sustainable building solutions and cutting-edge energy-saving technologies.

Of its many eco-friendly credentials, topping them all is the center’s 2.2-megawatt roof-top solar array that generates enough energy to power the whole facility, making the building Net Zero Energy. This means that that the system covers 100% of its needs.

The center is pursuing LEED® Platinum certification by earning points in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To be precise, the building generates less waste, saves more water, uses renewable energy, and boosts employee productivity.

Vaude’s Renovated HQ

In 2016, Vaude received DGNB Silver Certification for its newly-remodeled headquarters located in Tettnang-Obereisenbach, Germany, signaling that the renovation meets strict environmental requirements regarding the building materials, resource efficiency, and structure. Furthermore, all carbon emissions remaining after systematic efforts to reduce the building’s carbon footprint are offset, making the entire headquarter operations climate neutral. Today, these operations include product development, administration, logistics, and transport from the production site, the daily commute of its workers and maintenance.

Vaude’s renovation helped the company acquire 3,000 square meters of extra office space, and unpaved approximately 1,500 square meters of parking space. Blooming flowers and diverse gardens replaced the area once covered with asphalt.

Employee workplace satisfaction didn’t go unnoticed: An in-house childcare center, 10-meter climbing wall in the middle of the inner courtyard, and a certified organic canteen are all at their disposal.

The company’s corporate culture encourages employees to use eco-friendly transport. It includes e-bikes owned by the company, shuttle service as well as public transport, and carpooling. Bike commuting is considered the best option, so the company provides bike shelters, changing rooms, showers, and even workshops to promote green and healthy living.

Sustainable lifestyle at Prana’s head office

This cozy office building, located in California, is home to Prana. The company takes a minimalist attitude to using energy and also They allow Prana to compensate for the power consumed by its office, stores, and the homes of its employees and ambassadors.

The workplace culture at Prana implies sustainability at each level, even at the lowest: Trash.  Prana has an ambitious goal to reach, and with its waste reduction and sorting program, the company’s employees recycle and compost most of their waste including fruit and veggie scraps, paper towels, and wood stir sticks. The trash is taken out to a large composter in the garden on a daily basis to produce nutrient-rich soil for Prana’s garden.

MEC’s sun & rain optimized office

MEC’s LEED® Platinum-certified head office in Vancouver, Canada, looks more like a resort with its beautiful walking paths and roof-top patio with vegetable planters and fruit trees. Moreover, the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) recently pegged it as 70% more energy-efficient than ordinary equivalent commercial property.

Photo: MEC/Ed White

Firstly, MEC’s headquarters is solar-optimized, which means letting in as much natural light as possible. Moreover, its “blue roof” makes use of Vancouver’s epic precipitation by catching rainwater and directing it into a 7,700-gallon cistern. This solution covers approximately 80% of the office’s water needs such as providing 18 low-flow toilets with non-potable water. As a result of its on-site water management, MEC has reduced consumption of potable water by over 50%.

Additionally, MEC has outstanding passive heating and cooling facilities. Those are hydronic panels mounted in the ceiling. “Solera” windows also contribute to keeping the building warm as they create a thermal barrier.


Does your company go the extra mile when it comes to designing sustainability into your buildings? Let us know! Send an email to and we’ll get back to you.


Natalie Maximets

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