Kum & Go's LEED Commitment

First, only c-store chain participating in U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Volume Program

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kum & Go LC has contributed six Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified projects and registered nine more for certification since announcing in 2011 its plan to roll out 20 to 25 new stores in central Arkansas, according to a report by Arkansas Business.

"It's a big commitment by the company," Linda Smith, executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, told the newspaper. "Traditionally, new LEED projects are office buildings, schools and public buildings. We're starting to see LEED expand to other categories, nontraditional areas like restaurants" and convenience stores.

Officials at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go consider the green move in the chain's building model to be a logical manifestation of its corporate personality.

The more eco-friendly stores typically use 30% less energy and 20% less water, which provide long-term operational savings as a trade-off for more expensive short-term construction costs.

The company's LEED-certified efforts began with two stores in Iowa in December 2009.

Several stores in Arkansas received certification last week, the report said.

Based on the sale-leaseback of its new stores in central Arkansas, the green Kum & Go developments are each valued in the $3 million range, it said. Site cost is the biggest variable.

The LEED program at Kum & Go involves a mix of new construction and analyzing whether to sell, remodel or replace its inventory of older locations. That's a list of about 450 properties and growing.

"We're in the process of going through all of our stores," spokesperson Megan Elfers told the paper. "Some we are able to remodel. In some markets, we may choose to raze and rebuild."

The company's 4,958-square-foot prototype store is the sole focus for new construction now, said the report. The configuration is the Kum & Go standard bearer for its green program and the model of choice for all new stores.

"We call it our 5K design," Elfers said. "We like that footprint. We're really happy with it."

The 5K design is bringing standardization to the company's retail operations, and this approach has some benefits in streamlining the LEED certification process.

Kum & Go said it is proud of its standing as the first and only convenience store that participates in the building council's LEED Volume Program. The program simplifies documentation and speeds up the certification for multiple buildings of similar type. It reduces costs by taking advantage of uniformity in building design, construction and management practices. For organizations that certify 25 or more projects within three years, the program offers valuable economies of scale. Per-project certification costs drop significantly as the number of projects rises.

The Viridian consulting firm of Little Rock is helping Kum & Go with its green building program. The relationship dates back to 2011.

"Our job was to enhance what they were doing and get them into the Volume Program," Chris Ladner, partner at Viridian, told the paper. "They're continually optimizing their store model to enhance energy efficiencies. It's a challenge to them because of all the refrigeration they use."

Kum & Go's green efforts extend to areas that don't always have a big direct payback, areas the company hasn't promoted externally.

"They're making a real commitment to indoor environmental quality," Chad Oppenhuizen, a sustainability consultant and project manager for Viridian, told the paper.

Deploying air systems with higher ventilation and filtration capabilities than required by local building codes is part of the Kum & Go model. Monitoring the air quality of its stores is normal operating procedure along with energy use and other green considerations.

Click here to view the full Arkansas Business report including a bulleted list of Kum & Go's green building formula.

Kum & Go is the fifth largest privately held, company-operated convenience store chain in the United States. The family-owned company began in 1959, in Hampton, Iowa, and has approximately 425 c-stores in 11 states (Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming). In addition to a wide selection of products, Kum & Go provides customers a proprietary mix of products under the Hiland brand. Other proprietary product offerings include Java Ridge Premium Coffee, Napa Creek and Sea Ridge wines, Go Fresh Market sandwiches and Nuclear energy drinks.