Chain retailers and restaurants are waking up to the big bucks they can save by building eco-friendly outlets:
“You get energy savings, and you can tell customers you are greener. That’s a win-win,” said Neil Z. Stern, a retail consultant for McMillanDoolittle in Chicago.
While customers may like the idea of green buildings, Mr. Stern said he was skeptical that it would lure them into stores. “Ultimately, the reason you do it is it’s a better way to run your business,” he said.
Subway unveiled its first “eco-store” last year in Florida and has opened four more. Target, Office Depot and Staples have opened green stores, and Best Buy has announced plans to do the same.
A few chains are even further along. Recently, Kohl’s opened 45 stores that were built using recycled materials, water-saving plumbing fixtures and on-site recycling. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has taken the most successful techniques from prototype stores and incorporated them into all new stores, and it continues to experiment with “high-efficiency” stores that save 20 to 45 percent in energy costs when compared with more traditional stores. "