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BEDFORD, PA-Recreational Equipment Inc. has cut the ribbon at its 525,000-sf Eastern regional distribution center on 43 acres in Bedford County Business Park. The building is constructed to achieve LEED silver certification and expected to begin operations in January.

This is REI’s second distribution center. The other is a 606,000-sf facility in Sumner, WA. This operation will serve 42 stores located from Boston to Atlanta and in Texas and the Midwest along with approximately 50% of its direct-to-customer business and its estimated 1.2 million co-op members that reside east of the Mississippi.

Building features and also equipment used to construct the facility contributed to energy conservation and sustainability. For example, all of the heavy construction vehicles were powered by B20 bio-diesel fuel, and an on-site concrete and mixing plant kept hundreds of truckloads of concrete off local roads, helping to reduce carbon emissions during construction.

The building has more than 360 windows and skylights, which provide enough daylight to reduce energy use by more than 33%, the company reports. REI is creating a natural wetland on 12 acres to support local wildlife and also manage storm water runoff. The facility has low-flow sinks and showers and waterless urinals. There are 30 parking spaces reserved for carpoolers and fuel-efficient vehicles and 20 bike stalls and six employee showers for bicycle commuters. In addition, REI has contracted with a private vendor to recycle glass, office paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, packaging and shrink-wrap.

An REI spokeswoman declined to disclose the cost of the building, but confirms that REI acquired the land and owns the facility. “REI’s new distribution center complements our aspirations to reduce our company’s overall environmental footprint through decreased greenhouse gas emissions and waste stream,” says Dave Presley, VP of logistics, in a statement. “Early next year we anticipate being one of the largest distribution centers in the country certified by the US Green Building Council.”

REI has been involved in green building store design since 1996 with the opening of its Seattle flagship. Units in Portland and Pittsburgh have LEED certification, and this October it opened a prototype unit in Boulder, CO to test next-generation green building features.

Seattle-based REI is a national retail cooperative that sells multiple brands and private label outdoor gear and apparel. It operates 96 stores nationwide in addition to catalog sales and two retail websites. Customers can become members for a one-time fee of $15 for which they share in profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases.

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