The Change Initiative is Dubai's first retail store to focus its efforts solely on selling sustainable products and services, so it's not too surprising that its owners asked architectural firm HOK to make the premises as green as possible. However, what's remarkable, is that The Change Initiative is reportedly being hailed as the world's most sustainable building, when assessed according to the LEED standard.

The renovated two-story store measures a total of 43,000 sq ft (4,000 sq m), and is packed with green goods for Dubai residents to purchase, including organic foods, and energy conservation products. Laudably, The Change Initiative also seeks to educate shoppers on sustainability and environmental issues, and it includes features like a water recycling display to facilitate this process.

An interactive faucet display table which uses a recycled water system (Photo: Gundeep Singh)

The building is LEED Platinum certified, and scored an impressive 107 from a maximum possible 110 points according to the LEED Commercial Interiors category of building classification.

Gizmag had a chat with Christopher Brown, VP and Practice Leader at HOK Dubai, who explained that the project wasn't originally envisioned with the aim of snagging bragging rights for "world's most sustainable building," but that this was simply a happy result of the LEED certification process.

The renovation involved The Change Initiative being fitted with a significant quantity of sustainable tech, including a complex-sounding water filtration system which uses a "vacuum membrane filtration" system to purify water. A solar array is located on the roof, and features roughly 120 solar panels which create somewhere in the region of 50,000 kWh per year, or around 15 percent of the total electricity needs of the building.

HOK’s design team incorporated art made of recycled objects throughout the store (Photo: Gundeep Singh)

HOK also made use of materials already present in the property, such as wooden flooring, which were reused as wall panels.

About those claims: S. Richard Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman of the US GBC (developer of LEED) certainly seems to rate the building very highly, and has been quoted by Dubai daily newspaper Gulf News as writing the following to The Change Initiative CEO Gundeep Singh:

"Congratulations on setting a new record with your LEED for Commercial Interiors Platinum project. The store is a great prototype for sustainable real estate applicable worldwide."

If we take its very high LEED Platinum score as a yardstick, then The Change Initiative is undoubtedly a very green building, and is set to serve as a prototype to lead the way for another 24 similar retail stores to be rolled out across the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the US.

The Change Initiative opened its doors fully in October, 2012.

Sources: HOK, Gulf News