Hanesbrands ‘LEEDs’ Way For Interior Certifications

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Green construction is not a new concept for builders in Northwest Arkansas. The area has four completed LEED-certified buildings and 14 LEED projects under construction.

But Bentonville Plaza tenant, Hanesbrands Inc., managed to set a new sustainability mark when it received a “commercial interiors” certification for its tenant space in the nine-story, noncertified Bentonville Plaza.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that encourages sustainable development through universal performance criteria.

The Winston-Salem, N.C., company supplies innerwear, outerwear and hosiery apparel to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers in addition to direct-to-consumer sales.

Environmental stewardship is part of Hanesbrands’ value system, said company communications director Matthew Young. Hanesbrands has implemented sustainable practices at its offices and plants for years and used its Bentonville office as its stepping stone into the LEED world.

Hanesbrands now occupies the first and only certified CI office in the state and the only LEED facility in the city of Bentonville.

Young said that during its 100-year history the company has learned that being responsible does pay off and certifying its Bentonville office was just another way for the company to show its green side.

“Some companies have to choose between saving money and saving the environment,” Young said. “At Hanesbrands we choose both.”

The Hanesbrands project “broke the ice” for everyone involved, said Larry Lott, vice president of operations for Harrison French & Associates Ltd.

Harrison French was the architectural firm for the Bentonville Plaza and Hanesbrands’ tenant finish-out.

Being the first certified CI space in the state, the project not only provided a hands-on learning experience of all parties, it also showed other companies that certification can be achieved in an office.

Bentonville Plaza building operations manager Eric Glenn said, the project sets a precedent for his building and shows green construction is achievable and the building ownership is willing to invest in future tenant projects.

When the USGBC first started the program in 2001, the only certification categories were new construction and existing building.

In the fall of 2004 the Council announced the requirements for the CI designation.

The CI category focuses on the tenants instead of the facility, ensuring a healthy work environment.

There are 180 additional LEED CI-certified spaces in the U.S. There are four companies in Arkansas that are registered with the USGBC and have indicated they will be seeking CI certification.

The CI certification allows companies like Hanesbrands to show their passion for sustainable environments without the cost of building a new structure.

The initiative also falls in line with Wal-Mart’s push for green practices.

“We are excited to have the first LEED-certified office in Wal-Mart’s hometown,” Hanesbrands’ CEO Richard Noll said in a press release. “Hanesbrands and Wal-Mart have made significant commitments to environmental sustainability and running their businesses in a socially responsible manner, and we are proud to partner with our top customer in doing the right thing for the planet.”

For Hanesbrands, the office’s certification is a stepping-stone of a different sort.

The company has established a goal of obtaining certification for all of its future construction, including its flagship retail store in Winston-Salem, N.C., and upcoming office remodel projects.

Pricey Space

Young said Hanesbrands opted for space in Bentonville Plaza because of its proximity to Wal-Mart, the building owners’ willingness to partner on the project and the building’s existing facilities and features that counted toward the certification.

Glenn said he looked into the cost and scope of the project, finding that the construction costs would be 15 percent to 25 percent more than a regular tenant finish-out project.

Hanesbrands incurred the construction costs but Glenn said the building owners contributed funds for the project.

The building already had a recycling program and shower rooms, both of which contributed points to Hanesbrands certification process. 

The building’s existing recycling program was expanded, bike racks were installed and an exterior smoking zone was established.

Hanesbrands adopted its own list of certification qualities. Advance lighting, heating and cooling systems were installed in the company’s 8,508-SF office space. Workspaces were designed to allow natural light to all areas of the office, energy-efficient appliances were installed and low-emission materials were used in the construction process.

Hanesbrands’ certification process positively affected all of the building’s tenants Young said.

C.R. Crawford Construction, the general contractor for the project, took additional steps to ensure that the building’s air quality and carbon dioxide levels were not compromised during construction.

Construction was completed in seven months in August 2007 but the company did not receive its certification until April 2008.  About 24 Hanesbrands employees now occupy the space.