The greatest CO2 emitters are buildings, responsible for 40% ofemissions, presenting an enormous opportunity for builders. Even asother sectors are struggling, sustainable building is growing at a30% annual rate, making it the fastest-growing sector in thebuilding industry, said David Gottfried, CEO of Berkeley, CA-basedRegenerative Ventures and a founder of the U.S. Green BuildingCouncil. "The growth in this world right now is green," Gottfriedsaid.

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CenterBuild is held annually for developers, designers andconstruction professionals in retail real estate. And retailers areleading the way in greening this sector, particularly since it canbe profitable, said Joseph Feldman, managing director and seniorresearch analyst of New York City-based Telsey Advisory Group: thepioneering 'green' Wal-Mart in Lawrence, KS, postedhigher-than-average sales for the chain.

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Wal-Mart is not alone in pursuing sustainability, he reported:Target is starting to place motion sensors in their stores thatwill dim lights in unoccupied aisles. The Gap and the Limited alsoare making efforts at energy efficiency, with the latter replacingroofs at three distribution centers to make them more energyefficient.

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Even comparatively small efforts, such as Lowes' decision toreplace all of the lights in its stores with energy-efficientmodels, add up over time. "It's relatively easy to become green,"Feldman said, noting that "green" retailers "mostly are the leadersin their spaces." But the extra interest could be a double-edgedsword.

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"Companies need to be careful not to overuse the green logo,"Feldman said. "There are enough watchdogs out there that the minutea Wal-Mart trips up, they'll be all over them. Green is here tostay."

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That is supported by the growth of the USGBC, and the soaringinterest in LEED certification or equivalents worldwide, Gottfriedsaid. LEED is now developing a specific designation for retail;currently retail stores and shopping center developers can applyunder the new construction or existing building standards. Thestandard will be up for member ballot this month, with a marketlaunch expected in spring 2009.

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The interest in standards also is expanding worldwide, with 13countries--including India, Mexico, Brazil, Japan andAustralia--now having green building councils. Another 50 nationsare creating councils.

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"It's a United Nations of councils," Gottfried said. Even theChinese government is trying to impose more green regulations onits manufacturers, Feldman reported.

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But all of this interest still may not be enough. Just complyingwith LEED certification will not be sufficient to reverse climatechange, he noted. More developments and retailers must pursuePlatinum status or zero-energy or water use status. "LEED awardingcredits for [performance] 20% to 30% above average is just limitingthe damage," Gottfried said.

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Instead, developers should be examining the possibility ofbecoming a net producer of energy by using the surface area ofparking lots to generate power. Transportation issues must beconsidered--New York City is one of the greenest in the worldbecause of its vast mass transit system, reducing reliance on theautomobile. As the world becomes increasingly urban, suchtechniques and systems will become even more important fordevelopers.

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"We can recapture rainwater, using it to recharge aquifers," hesaid. "Nature has no waste. As we design our cities of the future,we have to think about these concepts."

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