Starbucks Builds Drive-Thru Store with Shipping Containers

New store reportedly applying for LEED certification

January 19, 2012
CDR Staff
Green Building Demolition

The Seattle Times has reported that Starbuck’s has opened a drive-thru location in Tukwila, Wash., which was built out of four used shipping containers. The 448-square-foot location will be applying for Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), according to the article.

According to Starbucks’ corporate website,, it has helped lead the work with other retailers and the USGBC to create a system to certify retail stores and store prototypes. This volume-certification process allows pre-certification of green stores at the design, construction and operational strategy level. Starbucks will then be held accountable through spot checks and continued review to ensure it is meeting the standards it has set.

“This is a huge opportunity for the USGBC and for retailers. Traditionally, LEED certification has been accomplished one building at a time, making it difficult for retailers with hundreds of stores to participate,” according to the website.

Some of the green design elements Starbucks says it uses in its stores include:

  • Installing cabinetry made from 90 percent post-industrial material (where available), with no added formaldehyde;
  • Using recycled flooring tiles;
  • Using wood products that are Forest Stewardship Council–certified (where available);
  • Conserving energy by allowing air-conditioned stores to reach 75°F instead of 72°F on warm days;
  • Saving water by using high-blast nozzles to clean pitchers instead of running water;
  • Installing low-flow valves throughout the store;
  • Improving lighting efficiency; and
  • Using paints with lower amounts of volatile organic chemicals.

According to the news article, Starbucks will use shipping containers for short- or long-term cafes on properties awaiting development and in areas where there is a high volume of automobile traffic.