Starbucks Coffee Co. is pressing forward toward its goal of achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for all new company-owned stores worldwide, beginning in late 2010.

The coffee company announced two important milestones as part of its long-term commitment to environmental stewardship: Starbucks has entered into the construction phase of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED volume certification pilot program, which will enable the company to reduce the environmental impact of its stores on a global scale with significant cost and time efficiencies; and Starbucks has begun implementing its light-emitting diode (LED) lighting conversion program, the result of an alliance with GE Consumer & Industrial to develop a solution that will help reduce energy consumption as well as utility and maintenance costs at Starbucks stores around the world.

“Our new green construction methodologies and lighting efforts have the rigor to help us achieve our environmental goals and the flexibility to support our scale,” said Arthur Rubinfeld, president, Starbucks Global Development. “Through innovative leadership and collaboration, the USGBC and GE have made valuable contributions that are advancing our sustainability initiatives.”

The USGBC is working with Starbucks and other volume certification pilot contributors to develop resources that will help integrate the adoption of LEED into the standard design, construction and operations practices of participating organizations.

Over the next six months, Starbucks will build or renovate a minimum of 10 pilot stores in six different bioregions around the world. Once the pilot stores’ environmental strategies are audited and approved, they can be replicated elsewhere. This capability will allow the company to reach its goal of achieving LEED certification for all new company-owned stores worldwide, beginning in late 2010.

“The volume certification program gives companies the tools to integrate LEED into their standard practices,” said Doug Gatlin, vice president of market development for the USGBC.

Starbucks global support center in Seattle and its Sandy Run, S.C., roasting plant have both earned LEED Gold certification. In addition, six Starbucks stores not associated with the pilot program have either achieved or are currently registered for LEED certification. These stores feature plaques that identify green design elements and inform customers about solutions they can apply in their homes and workplaces.

Starbucks’ inaugural store under the volume certification program opened in San Diego in December.

On the LED front, in 2008, Starbucks explored the substitution of incandescent and halogen lighting with LED lighting to conserve energy but found no commercially available LED product that met the company’s aesthetic and functional requirements. As a result, Starbucks reached out to GE to identify a solution. With input from Starbucks about its specific needs, GE developed an energy-efficient LED product that complements Starbucks store design approach and fits existing fixtures.

Starbucks has begun implementing the LED lighting conversion program in all company-owned stores in the United States and Canada and has already completed installation in more than 1,000 U.S. locations. The company will expand the program to international markets in March 2010, aiming to complete installation in more than 8,000 company-owned stores around the world by the end of 2010. Following global implementation, Starbucks projects a 7 percent per-store reduction in energy use. This improvement will contribute toward the company’s goal of achieving a 25 percent reduction in energy use by the end of 2010.