REI Portland


Portland, OR


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Building type
Floor Area (ft2)
Floor Area (m2)
Date of Occupancy/ Completion
Annual Water Use (gal/ft2)
Annual Water Use (L/m2)
Annual Purchased Energy (kBtu/ft2)
Annual Purchased Energy (MJ/m2)
Total Project Cost (land excluded)($US)
Certifications & Awards
  • LEED-CIPilot in 2004 achievement level Gold (33 points)
Project Team
  • Owner: Recreational Equipment Inc.


Founded as a retail cooperative in 1938, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) now has more than two million active members and operates stores nationwide. REI's Portland store occupies the first two floors of a ten-story, mixed-use building.

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  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Building type(s): Retail
  • 37,500 sq. feet (3,480 sq. meters)
  • Project scope: 20% of a building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed February 2004
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-CI Pilot--Level: Gold (33 points)

Founded as a retail cooperative in 1938, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) now has more than two million active members and operates stores nationwide. REI's Portland store occupies the first two floors of a ten-story, mixed-use building.

Environmental Aspects

REI Portland achieved Gold certification in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI). It was the first retail project in the nation to attain that status.

REI decided to relocate its Portland retail store from the suburbs to a new mixed-use complex in a renovating industrial district in downtown Portland. The site offers easy access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and street car riders.

Water-efficient plumbing fixtures result in an estimated 32% reduction in water use, compared with a comparable, conventional project. Energy-efficient lighting fixtures combine with extensive windows and daylight sensors to reduce the building's lighting energy load by an estimated 26%.

Minimal finishes were used, and products with low chemical emissions were used wherever finishes were required by code. Fixtures are made of composite wood with no added urea-formaldehyde, and timber accents and trellis canopies are made of engineered lumber manufactured from small, fast-growing species. The project team preferred materials manufactured locally and materials with high recycled content. Nonhazardous janitorial cleansers and recycled paper products were specified as part of building maintenance and operations, and 96% of construction waste, by weight, was recycled.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Recreational Equipment, Inc., Individual(s)

  • Typically occupied by 150 people, 28 hours per person per week; and 12,260 visitors per week, 1 hour per visitor per week

REI's Portland store is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, and on Sundays from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces: Restrooms, Other, Retail general


Integrated team, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Performance measurement and verification, Transportation benefits, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Glazing, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Adaptable design, Durability, Benign materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Ventilation effectiveness, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

Team & Process

When the opportunity arose to participate in the LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) pilot program, REI's senior management team was very supportive of pursuing the certification. The management team saw green building, environmental conservation, and community involvement as natural extensions of the cooperative's philosophy and, as a result, gave the retail design and construction team clear support and direction to commence with the project.

Meticulous documentation of product specifications is required for LEED certification. Vendors, fixture constructors, and purchasers, as well as the contractor, were involved early in the design process to ensure the support and implementation of all targeted green strategies.

Fundamental commissioning guaranteed that the mechanical and water-conservation portions of the project were installed according to plan and that their operation and performance met the stated design guidelines.

The feedback from the public since the store opened has been overwhelmingly positive. REI is pleased with the sales and new co-op memberships as well as the feel and performance of the store.

[Laura Rose](learnmore.cfm?ProjectID=468) Recreational Equipment, Inc., Portland Owner/developer Portland, OR [](
[Paul Wanzer](learnmore.cfm?ProjectID=468) Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners Architect (Principal in charge) Seattle, WA [](
Howard S. Wright Construction Company Contractor Seattle, WA [](
Mike Armstrong Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Inc. Civil and structural engineer Seattle, WA [](
Israel Gaphni Sound Mechanical Consulting Mechanical engineer
Wes McKeon Hultz/BHU/Cross, Inc. Electrical and lighting engineer Tacoma, WA

Finance & Cost

Economics were carefully balanced to maximize the project's environmental goals while remaining within the construction budget. REI is a cooperative that returns a portion of members' purchasing dollars in a rebate at the end of each year, and the project was also required to meet the goal of “no dividend impact.”

Cost data in U.S. dollars as of date of completion.

  • Total project cost (land excluded): $999,500

The cost to document the achievement of LEED credits represented approximately 4% of the project's construction cost.

Land Use & Community

REI occupies the first two floors of a mixed-use loft building. The large quantity of perimeter glass, unusual for a retail operation, increases visibility to the street and vibrant building-sidewalk relationships, reinforcing a strong neighborhood.

The store was relocated from a suburban location with limited transit access. The new urban-infill store—located in Portland's Pearl District, a formerly industrial area being revitalized into a mixed-use neighborhood—is easy to access via multiple forms of public transportation, including busses, the light-rail system, and a new street car line. The store also offers easy access for pedestrians and bicyclists. Bicycle parking spaces are provided for all visitors, and internal bicycle storage spaces and showers are available for employees who bike or run to work.

  • Responsible Planning

    • Ensure that development fits within a responsible local and regional planning framework

    • Carry out mixed-use development
  • Properties with Excessive Impacts

    • Avoid contributing to sprawl
  • Support for Appropriate Transportation

    • Provide showers and changing areas for bicycle and pedestrian commuters

    • Provide storage area for bicycles
    • Provide access to public transportation
  • Property Selection Opportunities

    • Look for opportunities for infill development
    • Select already-developed sites for new development

Site Description

  • Lot size: 44,000 ft2
  • Previously developed land

Water Conservation and Use

The project was designed to use 225,000 of potable water each year, about 32% less than the 330,000 gallons per year projected for a comparable, conventional project. Water-conserving features include low-flow toilets and showers as well as low-flow, sensor-activated faucets.

Water Use -

Indoor potable water use: 225,000 gal/yr (852,000 liters/yr)
  • Outdoor potable water use: 0 gal/yr (0 liters/yr)
  • Total potable water use: 225,000 gal/yr (852,000 liters/yr)

  • Potable water use per unit area: 6 gal/sq ft (244 liters/sq meter)

  • Low-Water-Use Fixtures

    • Use low-flow toilets
    • Use automatic faucet controls for lavatories
  • Low-Impact Siting

    • Look for opportunities to combine needs with infrastructure
    • Select building sites that make use of existing infrastructure


The building in which REI resides occupies an entire city block. REI’s retail portion is oriented along the eastern face of the first two stories, allowing maximum exposure to the sun during early warm-up hours. By the time the store opens, the sun has moved such that it provides soft, indirect light for the remainder of the day. This minimizes REI's start-up heating costs while reducing the cooling load throughout the afternoon.

The project's south face has only minimal transparent exposure due to solid walls at the security areas and canopy overhangs at the entrances. The west façade is shielded by an open-air parking garage with lofts above. The northern exposure is occupied by other tenants, but REI receives indirect north light in its office areas.

Carbon dioxide sensors monitor and control ventilation within the project. By allowing the ventilation system (and therefore the heating and cooling systems) to operate less when occupancy is low, this measure saves an estimated 44,000 kWh of energy each year. During much of the year, Portland's mild climate allows the mechanical system's economizer cycle to bring in fresh air directly.

Energy-efficient lighting fixtures combine with extensive windows and daylight sensors to reduce the building's lighting energy load by an estimated 26%. Lighting for the retail, office, storage, and display spaces, including both track and general lighting, is controlled by a computer-based system. Photosensors and clocks keep exterior lighting levels at a minimum, yielding an estimated savings of 6,100 kWh of energy each year. Occupancy sensors and photosensors inside provide an estimated annual savings of 9,700 kWh on the retail floor, 3,500 kWh in the offices, and 63,500 kWh in storage areas.

High-bay fluorescent light fixtures with three ballasts each are circuited to allow three levels for general lighting. During nonbusiness hours, the minimum general lighting level is used. During sales hours, the full lighting level is used; electric lighting is reduced, however, when daylighting is sufficient. Track lighting is used during sales hours and for stocking. Moveable racks with integral lighting, including plug and cord assemblies, follow the track lighting standards.


Materials & Resources

While REI Portland is a tenant within a larger mixed-use building, several aspects of the larger building help to reduce REI's environmental footprint. The shell is mostly concrete and insulated glass, both durable, long-lasting materials.

REI also strived to use environmentally responsible materials within its own space. Fixtures were constructed of either particleboard with no added urea-formaldehyde or farmed wood certified to have been sustainably harvested. The timber accents and trellis canopies were fashioned of salvaged wood and engineered wood made from small, fast-growing species.

Concrete and other structural materials were left exposed to the greatest extent possible to reduce material consumption. Where finish materials were required by code, however, the project team selected products with low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC emissions from carpets are below limits set by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Materials manufactured locally and materials with high recycled content were used extensively throughout the store.

REI has consistently participated in recycling programs within the store, targeting everything from lunchroom beverage containers to product packaging. Much of the packaging material does not even reach the store, as REI's distribution center consolidates shipments and reuses the containers. Nonhazardous janitorial cleansers and recycled paper products were specified as part of building maintenance and operations.

About 96% of all construction waste, by weight, was recycled.

Although the project site slopes across its 200-foot retail frontage, REI wanted a single-plane floor for maximum display flexibility. The project team installed a removable concrete floor that will allow for the addition of grade-level entrances with only minor remodeling effort if the space is occupied by smaller tenants in the future.

Exposed concrete within the project's interior, deconstructable details, and exposed mechanical and electrical systems maximize the ability to salvage or recycle building materials while minimizing waste in the transition to future tenants. This will also allow for easy reconfiguration during REI’s tenancy.

  • Reusable Components

    • Design for disassembly at end of life
    • Use materials with integral finish
  • Design for Materials Use Reduction

    • Consider exposing structural materials as finished surfaces
  • Job Site Recycling

    • Investigate local infrastructure for recycling
  • Recycling by Occupants

    • Specify recycling receptacles that are accessible to the occupants

  • Materials and Wildlife Habitat

    • Use wood products from independently certified, well-managed forests for finish carpentry

  • Transportation of Materials

    • Prefer materials that are sourced and manufactured within the local area

Indoor Environment

Since two of the project's primary walls are all glass, ambient daylight floods the retail space. Ceilings in the main retail space are extra tall, giving the space a sense of grandeur.

Carbon dioxide sensor monitor indoor air quality and control ventilation as necessary. The janitor’s closet and laundry room are isolated from adjoining spaces by virtue of their constant negative air pressure.

All ductwork and mechanical equipment was sealed off during construction and not used following completion until the space had been cleaned of dust and fumes. Indoor air quality measures included a two-week, 100% fresh-air flush of the building. MERV-13 filters were used for the main retail mechanical equipment, and MERV 11 filters were used for the split mechanical systems serving the back-of-house spaces. All filters were replaced after the fresh-air purge.

  • Visual Comfort and The Building Envelope

    • Use large exterior windows and high ceilings to increase daylighting

  • Visual Comfort and Interior Design

    • Design open floor plans to allow exterior daylight to penetrate to the interior

  • Visual Comfort and Light Sources

    • Use electronic ballasts with fluorescent lighting
    • Provide illumination sensors
  • Direct Exhaust from High-source Locations

    • Provide local exhaust ventilation for rooms with high-emitting sources

  • Identification of Indoor Pollutants

    • Procure green-label-certified carpet
  • Maintenance for IEQ

    • Design for easy access to HVAC components
    • Specify use of only nontoxic cleaning products
    • Design isolated storage closet for cleaning and maintenance products

  • Facility Policies for IEQ

    • Recommend a non-smoking policy for the building


  • U.S. Green Building Council LEED-CI Pilot in 2004;  achievement level: Gold (33 points)

    • Sustainable Sites, 4 of 7 possible points

      • SS Credit 1.1, Site Selection, First Point
      • SS Credit 2, Development Density
      • SS Credit 4.1, Alternative Transportation, Public Transportation Access

      • SS Credit 4.2, Alternative Transportation, Bicycle Storage & Changing Rooms

    • Water Efficiency, 2 of 2 possible points

      • WE Credit 3.1, Water Use Reduction, 20% Reduction
      • WE Credit 3.2, Water Use Reduction, 30% Reduction
    • Energy and Atmosphere, 7 of 14 possible points

      • EA Prerequisite 1, Fundamental Building Systems Commissioning
      • EA Prerequisite 2, Minimum Energy Performance
      • EA Prerequisite 3, CFC Reduction in HVAC&R Equipment
      • EA Credit 1.1a, Optimize Energy Performance, Lighting Power
      • EA Credit 1.2a, Optimize Energy Performance, Lighting Controls
      • EA Credit 1.2b, Optimize Energy Performance, Lighting Controls
      • EA Credit 1.4a, Optimize Energy Performance, Equipment & Appliances

      • EA Credit 1.4b, Optimize Energy Performance, Equipment & Appliances

      • EA Credit 5.1, Measurement & Verification, Submetering
      • EA Credit 5.2, Measurement & Verification, Energy Costs Paid by Tenant

    • Materials and Resources, 5 of 14 possible points

      • MR Prerequisite 1, Storage & Collection of Recyclables
      • MR Credit 2.1, Construction Waste Management, Divert 50% from Landfill

      • MR Credit 2.2, Construction Waste Management, Divert 75% from Landfill

      • MR Credit 4.1, Recycled Content, Use 5% Post-Consumer / 10% Total

      • MR Credit 4.2, Recycled Content, Use 10% Post-Consumer / 20% Total

      • MR Credit 5.1, Regional Materials, Use 20% Manufactured Regionally

    • Indoor Environmental Quality, 12 of 16 possible points

      • EQ Prerequisite 1, Minimum IAQ Performance
      • EQ Prerequisite 2, Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control
      • EQ Credit 1, Carbon Dioxide Monitoring
      • EQ Credit 2, Ventilation Efficiency
      • EQ Credit 3.1, Construction IAQ Management Plan, During Construction

      • EQ Credit 3.2, Construction IAQ Management Plan, After Construction

      • EQ Credit 4.1, Low-Emitting Materials, Adhesives & Sealants
      • EQ Credit 4.2, Low-Emitting Materials, Paints
      • EQ Credit 4.3, Low-Emitting Materials, Carpet
      • EQ Credit 4.4, Low-Emitting Materials, Composite Wood
      • EQ Credit 7.1, Thermal Comfort, Compliance with ASHRAE 55-1992
      • EQ Credit 7.2, Thermal Comfort, Permanent Monitoring System
      • EQ Credit 8.1, Daylight & Views, Daylight 75% of Spaces
      • EQ Credit 8.2, Daylight & Views, Daylight 90% of Spaces
    • Innovation and Design Process, 3 of 5 possible points

      • ID Credit 1.1, Innovation in Design "Sustainability Education"
      • ID Credit 1.2, Innovation in Design "Exemplary Performance, MRc2.1"

      • ID Credit 2, LEED Accredited Professional

Lessons Learned

The project team originally looked at participating in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Retail pilot program. Since this program was not ready for release at the time of the REI store development, however, the team chose to participate in the LEED for Commercial Interiors program, aiming to aid in the development of the LEED for Retail program.

Challenges to this project included communicating the green goals and the documentation time needed to all parties involved in the development of the new store. This additional time and research were incorporated into the standard time allotted to develop and construct a new store.

REI will use the lessons learned at this store to inform the development of future stores. Several of the environmentally responsible choices researched for the Portland store have since become standard in new REI store design.

Learn More

It is possible to visit this project. The REI Portland store is located at 1405 NW Johnson Street in Portland, Oregon.

  • Web sites

    • REI Portland
      This is the main webpage for REI's Portland, Oregon, store.

*Primary Contact* Paul Wanzer Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners Architect (Principal in charge) 1201 Alaskan Way suite 200 Seattle, WA  98101 206-623-3344 [](
Laura Rose Recreational Equipment, Inc., Portland Owner/developer 1405 NW Johnson St. Portland, OR  97209 503-221-1938 [](